Seven Xfinity and Truck Series races are going have significantly different rules for pit stops in 2020.
NASCAR announced Tuesday that four Xfinity Series races (Mid-Ohio, Iowa, Iowa, and Road America) and three Truck Series races (Iowa, Gateway, and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) would be officiated differently. Teams will not be allowed to perform standard pit stops that include full tire changes and refueling at the same time.
Instead, teams will have the opportunity to pit twice during a caution flag either for a crash or debris or for the conclusion of the stage. At oval tracks, teams will have the opportunity to changes two tires and fuel the car at the same time. If a team wants to add four fresh tires during a pit stop it must come back to pit road a second time and change the other two tires.
At the three road course races, teams can either change fuel or all four tires in the first pit stop. If it wants to do both, a second pit stop is needed to do what wasn’t done the first time.
The field will be frozen at the moment of caution before the pit stops begin at these seven races. The restart order will be determined first by the running order of the cars that didn’t pit and then the cars that pitted once. The cars that pitted twice will follow the single pit stop cars and cars getting their lap(s) back and penalized cars will be at the end of the line.
Stage lengths will also be adjusted at the seven races to ensure that teams don’t have to make a pit stop under green.
Green-flag pit stops that involve four-tire changes will be subject to a two-lap penalty unless NASCAR rules they’re necessary due to damage. The same goes for any four-tire and fuel pit stop.
You’re probably wondering why NASCAR is going to these lengths for seven second and third-tier races. The answer is pretty simple. It’s an attempt to cut costs and level the playing field between the haves and have nots.
Teams won’t need to rent or lease pit crews for these seven races that are happening independent of Cup Series race weekends.
The richest teams typically spend the most for pit crews and the Cup Series-affiliated pit crews that cost the most are typically the best. This will allow teams at the back of the field to have a chance to keep up with Cup-affiliated teams on pit road because regular crew members will be allowed to service the car without the pressure of performing a pit stop in 16 seconds.
“The stand-alones in general provide some additional logistical and efficiency challenges for Gander Trucks and Xfinity teams,” Xfinity Series technical director Eric Peterson said in an article on NASCAR.com. “Any time you have races where we’re not a companion to Cup or Cup is in a different area of the country, it is logistically harder for the Xfinity and Truck teams to accomplish those races and do all the things we do on a normal weekend. … A lot of the teams — a good portion, not all of them — do utilize sharing pit crew personnel between Cup and Xfinity and Gander Trucks that it is a logistical hurdle for the teams to fly those individuals back and forth. Trying this procedure at these events certainly alleviates a lot of that burden on the teams to make that happen.”
It’ll also — in theory, anyway — give teams that are at the back of the field a chance to move up in the running order by pitting just once or not at all during a caution flag. A lower-budget team with a fast car and a good setup but without the resources to field a great pit crew won’t have to worry about getting beaten on pit road by teams with more financial ability.
Will it work or have a dramatic impact on the racing? We’ll get the first answer to that question at Mid-Ohio on May 30 when the Xfinity Series tests out these new rules.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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