Friday, May 20, 2011

A Moment In The Sun For The Pit Road Gang


Update: Well, it's all over but the shouting. Denny Hamlin's team wins again and had a great night. The TV pictures and production were super. SPEED's announcers added just the right touch.

The one issue that popped-up was the fact that SPEED carried the show on a one-hour delay. Lots of media, teams and even NASCAR and SPEED all communicated the compitition via social media in real time. That meant that NASCAR fans on Twitter, Facebook, NASCAR.com or other racing media knew the winners well in advance.

Just might be a good idea for SPEED to look at making this a live show in 2012 in order to get a broader audience of fans. We welcome your thoughts on this topic.


Surrounded by the All-Star race and the Hall of Fame induction sits the one opportunity of the year for Sprint Cup Series pit crew members to get their names and faces out on national TV.

Thursday night is the 2011 Sprint Pit Crew Challenge from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC. The TV coverage begins at 8PM ET on SPEED.

"While it’s about the group of guys, it’s also about individuals and how they perform," said SPEED's Larry McReynolds when talking about the event. "But the end result is about how the team performs and that’s the same thing they face on race day."

"The NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge has become extremely popular with our fans and with our teams as it provides an opportunity for the real unsung heroes in our sport to be on center stage and showcase their talents and outstanding teamwork," said Robin Pemberton, VP of Competition at NASCAR. "It’s a great lead-in for the week of activities heading into the All-Star Race and it promises to deliver another exceptional experience for the fans and for the competitors."

Here is an overview of what you will be seeing on SPEED from the organizers:

All teams competing in this year’s All-Star Race are eligible to send their over-the-wall gangs to the Challenge. Also eligible is the winner of last year’s Challenge. If more teams are needed to fill out the field of 24 teams, the positions will go to the teams of car owners ranking highest in the 2011 owner standings that are not otherwise eligible.

Seven-person over-the-wall crews from each of the teams will compete. Six of those seven remain the same from last year; front-tire changer, front-tire carrier, rear-tire changer, rear-tire carrier, gas can man and jack man. New this year will be a second gas can man who will take the place of the catch can man, a position which is no longer relevant in the series.

The new fueling cans and systems, however, will not be used.

The competition is different than a normal pit stop. The crews start at four separate stations. From those stations, the crewmen do their normal duties and then hit a split-timer button. They then have to run to one end of the arena and collectively push their 3,200-pound car across the arena floor to the finish line.

All team members will begin simultaneously at the sound of a starter’s pistol. They will hit a stop button positioned on pit wall as they leave their respective pit box, creating their individual split time.

A victory gives the winning team its choice of pit stalls in the All-Star Race or in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race that precedes it.


This event had a rough start on TV, but now SPEED and the organizers have worked together to create an annual event driven by team rivalries and some colorful personalities. It turns out that there is a lot more to most Sprint Cup Series crew members than meets the eye.

Bob Dillner will be handling the interviews from the floor while Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will call the action. SPEED's two former crew chiefs bring a solid perspective to this competition and the casual style of Byrnes really makes it work on TV.

Click here for a feature from WCNC's Greg Bailey about how this competition has changed over the years and the new breed of athletes involved.

NASCAR officials are the ones in place checking the stops and adding up the penalty points. The pressure is really on and this competition is slowly becoming a nice little TV franchise for SPEED.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion before, during or after this program just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for stopping by The Daly Planet.

20 comments:

Sally said...

This was a lot more fun when it was held on a real track with drivers pulling into actual pit stalls. This is just another 'made for TV' moment. Just another way to miss "the good old days'.

Anonymous said...

Hype or time filler?I don't really know.I do know that pit crews try hard and sometimes don't get everything right.Drivers cussing pit crews is just plain wrong.Drivers get things wrong too,nomore perfect than the crew.
For once,let the crews get some justified recognition for what they do.

OSBORNK said...

It's probably just me but made for TV fabricated "excitement" is not my cup of tea. We already have to endure that with the entertainment event they pawn off on us as racing.

Ken-Michigan said...

Being a fan for almost 40 years, this pit crew event does absolutely nothing for me and it never has.

Whats next, "coming up tonight on NBA TV, watch as every teams Athletic Trainer tapes ankles of the starting five in the middle of the arena".

Who is fastest? Who will drop their scissors? Who will let the roll of tape roll away ?

Nah....no thanks....I dont watch it.

GinaV24 said...

I agree with Sally. Having it inside is too contrived for me. I enjoy seeing the pit crews and respect immensely the risks they take to do their job, but I don't like this format.

Roland said...

Ill probably watch the beginning, then go watch the Braves game. Funny thing is the Braves game will probably finish before the pit crew deal. Last few years this event has run wayyyyyyyyyyyyy long even for a same day delay event.

This competition doesnt really showcase the pit crews in a good way. Theres are a ton of mistakes made during each run. Watch tonight and count how many time both teams made clean runs. Its not cause the pit crews are bad, its just the nature of this competition. Theres no wow factor with this competition. In fact just about every year I get bored and go to bed before its done. Doesn't really make for compelling TV IMO.

What they should do is just have the event at CMS, maybe after qualifying on Friday, and do it like they did at Rockingham. No gimmicks, no pushing a car 40 yards, just whoever has the quickest stop with no mistakes wins. Bet they would have a bigger crowd for that then the 35 they will have tongiht.

Gymmie said...

When it first started I didn't like the format but it's grown on me. But I do miss the original format I really liked that.

But I've enjoyed it over the years

Wisconsin Steve said...

If you guys prefer the old Rockingham version of the competition, then check out Cup qualifying for the race on Friday- that's pretty close to the way it used to be when Union 76 sponsored the pit crew challenge. Personally, I wish they would do qualifying that way every week, but I realize that wouldn't work because of the time constraints.

Anonymous said...

These guys do one hell of a good job and we really are fascinated in watching them. Only problem is this setting is not the same as 'on the job'.Like most all star games, it just does not grab where it should. We are also afraid that all these festivities will be polluted by too much Waltrip nonsense. Sorry....

Palmetto said...

I spent many a November Saturday afternoon at Rockingham, where this event used to be held. After the Busch race and Cup 'Happy Hour' would be the annual Pit Crew competition. Each driver would start at pit road exit and complete an 'in lap'. This kept the driver as part of the competition; similar to a race stop, he had to get it on the marks and away from the wall. The clock stopped when he pulled out, the announcer would read the 'raw' time, then we'd wait anxiously while the lug nuts were checked for proper torque and the gas cans were weighed. I recall the penalty was three seconds for each loose nut; dragging equipment out of the box was the kiss of death.

In short, the competition measured REAL pit stops, under conditions as close to race ones as possible. Earnhardt's 'Flying Aces', Kenseth's 'Killer Bees', the ground-breaking Wood Brothers; good times, man, good times.

Jonathan said...

Sally seriously people cling to the old days way way way too much!!! This is a fun event I love it so what if its indoors lets these guys shine!!!

Anonymous said...

It's obviously not important to SPEED if they aren't even going to bother showing it live (as always) - so it's not important to me.

Roland said...

Well all in all it wasn't as bad as previous years. Although Speed decided to go super hyper tight on the camera work. They would just show one of the gas men for the whole run. That part I didn't like. I did like that it didnt drag on for hours.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I liked it! SPEED was a bit aggressive on the tight shots but "drama" is the big TV thing these days....again.

Thought the announcers did a good job, the actual event was tight and on time and well-organized.

Like many of you, I believe SPEED needs to work out the logistics of how to show this live next year. Plenty of time to do this.

JD

Buschseries61 said...

That was fun to watch! On Speed Byrnes, McReynolds and Hammond were informative, focused, and lively. It's sad the only place to find those qualities on FOX is the silent neon ticker crawling above a tight shot of Jimmie Johnson's helmet.

Gymmie said...

Enjoyed it like always! Very happy for the 11 crew :).

I also hope they figure out how to make it live as well. I don't mind the spoilers but would love to see it live.

Anon/J said...

I enjoyed it. Unlike an earlier comment, I prefer drivers not be involved.

These crews deserve to be showcased on their own merits. Sure, the format isn't the same as an average pit stop...but that's kinda the point.

Coverage wasn't 100%, but it wasn't like what we often see for the races themselves.

Props to the guy with the bum knees on the FedEx team. Were it not for stuff like this, we'd never know he existed aside from a brief camera shot.

Jonathan said...

It was one hell of a show great crowd looked wicked in HD!!! Great setup all around Thanks Speed I had a great time

glenc1 said...

I saw a bit of the end. It was entertaining. You people who want it outdoors are forgetting one thing--being indoors *ensures* you can have it when you want it and not have to worry about the weather. For that reason, in a week packed with events for drivers & crew chiefs, I think indoors is fine. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. I'd rather see it more closely follow an actual pit stop though.

earl the pearl said...

Will Dick Bergran ask this
question to one of the drivers ??

" Would you sell your First Born Child into bondage to win the
All Star Race ?