With the introduction of the Next Generation car, NASCAR fans will see a drastic change when it comes to the teams making pit stops.  Previously, teams had to change five lug nuts on each of the four wheels.  Any team found to have any of those lug nuts loose during post race inspections would face a penalty.

With the Next Gen cars, each wheel will have a single lug nut!

Choreographed like a ballet performance, teams have gone back to the drawing board for how they will plan out the dance of the wheel changes beginning next week with the duel races at Daytona in preparation for the 500 on February 20.

Each team is allowed five crew members over the wall during a pit stop.  NASCAR rules state that a crew member may not “come over the wall” until the driver is one pit stop away.

With the five lug nut wheels, teams were making pit stops of around 12 seconds; but while the crews can change tires much quicker with a single lug nut, the driver must still wait for the fueler to fill up the gas tank.

The difference between changing tires and fueling the car means that crew chiefs will have decision to make on whether to let the driver leave pit road with a less than full fuel tank or wait to fill the tank and hope the driver can make up the time on the track.

Along with the single lug nut, the new tires are also 18 inches – a bit larger than the old tires.  A larger tire also means a bulkier tire for the tire carriers to deal with.

As pit crews practice their new “pit road dance”, Joe Gibbs Racing’s car number 19 tire changer Houston Stamper noted that the hard part was learning the difference between a tight wheel and a loose wheel. ““When you hit five lug nuts for 16 years, you know without a shadow of a doubt whether that wheel’s going to hold or not, or if it’s going to be borderline. That’s probably the one thing I’m concentrating on the most is really trying to zero in on what’s going to be tight and what isn’t going to be tight,” he noted.