Danny McKeever (Driving Instructor) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'pit stop'?; What is a 'pit pass'?; What is the 'pit box'? and more...
What is a 'pit stop'?
A pit-stop is where you come in for fuel and/or tires or to make any corrections or adjustments to your car, so that you can get back out to racing. It's very critical that the pit crew give the driver the right information, so that they come in at the right time, so that they don't run out of fuel. Usually they come in for tires and/or fuel and the pit-crew is ready for you. It is very important that you stop on your mark. If you come in five feet ahead or three feet behind, they're not ready for you because they are not lined up with your tires. Once your car is jacked up and the tires are changed, it's fuelled, and any other adjustments are made, and then once you get the okay from the crew chief, you're back out on the track.
What is a 'pit pass'?
A pit pass is a credential to get you into the pits. It might still be limited from the standpoint that you can get into the pits, or paddock area, where all the cars are. You may not get into the working pit lane where the pit crews are. Obviously, you don't want to be in their way when they're changing tires or fuelling cars.
What is the 'pit box'?
When you come in for a pit stop, there are marks on the pavement where you have to stop. Your front tires have to be right on those marks, and if they are, then your rear tires are going to be right on the marks. This is because the person that's ready to take your wheel off is sitting there waiting and he wants to see that tire right in front of him. If you miss your pit box, usually by overshooting it, then that tire is way over here and they're not ready to change your tire. So you have to hit that pit box perfectly, because, otherwise, it adds time to your pit stop. If you are sticking out of your pit box, then you have to go back around and come in, because usually there's such close quarters in the pit lane. You can't be half stuck in someone else's pit box because they're not going to be very happy.
What is the 'pit window'?
Perhaps on this track we can get forty eight laps per tank of gas, so maybe we want you in on a pit window of forty four to forty six laps. Therefore, anywhere in between that we might put you in, but we don't want to go over what we calculate as forty eight laps. It's really interesting because if in those forty eight laps there's ten laps under a yellow flag, what that means is that you're going to use less gas, so you can go more than forty eight laps now. They're always trying to figure that out so that you can get as many laps as you can on a tank of gas, or wait for a yellow flag. This is because if you pit under a yellow flag, everybody is going for it, so it's an advantage to us.
What is a 'gas-and-go stop'?
A "gas-and-go" means that you just need another gallon or two of fuel to finish the race. You don't want to take a chance on running out. If you only have 20 miles to go, there's no sense in filling the whole gas tank, as it takes longer. They calculate how much fuel to put in to finish the race at full speed. That's all you want. Extra fuel adds weight and extra fuel takes more time to put in.
What is a 'stop-and-go penalty'?
A 'stop-and-go penalty' means that you did something wrong. Maybe you had too many people over the pit wall. Maybe you ran into somebody's pit box or something happened. So they're going penalize you. It's a stop-and-go. You come into the pit lane, and rather than rolling through it, you're going to stop at a designated area. Once you've stopped, then they'll tell you to go. When you come in for a stop-and-go, obviously everybody else that didn't come in for a stop-and-go is out on the track pulling way ahead of you.
What is the importance of a good pit crew?
The importance of a good pit crew is that they are going to get their job done in the least amount of time and get you back out on the track. Every time you are coming for a pit stop, obviously you are not going at racing speed, so the less time you spend in the pits, the more time you spend on the race track and the better chance you have of winning the race.
What is meant by 'going behind the wall'?
Going behind the wall means that anything that's wrong with your car probably can't be fixed in the pit lane. Maybe you got a bumper hanging down and maybe in the pit lane they can just rip it off and send you back out. You may have a more serious problem. Maybe it's a stuck-in gear. Maybe they can't do it in the pit lane, so let's get it behind the wall, into our garage space. We have the equipment, maybe we can fix it. If we can, we'll get back out on the track. You will probably have lost 20 laps, but the sponsors want the car back out on the track and the driver also wants to go back out on the track.
Who are the members of the over-the-wall crew and what are their duties?
You can have anybody, an engineer, someone calculating the fuel usage, someone looking at the tire ware so that they know that we went X amount of laps at full speed on these tires - they're looking pretty good. Or maybe they're not looking good because you think on the last NASCAR race they were blowing a couple of tires out there on the track. So sometimes if you go a little bit too far, it could cause a problem.