NASCAR announced on Wednesday a standardized system for how many employees teams can bring to a track across all three national tours.
The gist of the system is that NASCAR will reduce the number of crew members that go over the wall from six to five. The new regulations will also better define each role as NASCAR moves to a traditional stick-and-ball sport „roster.“
The traveling roster will be composed of organizational employees, road crew members and the over-the-wall pit crew. Each traveling crew member will have assigned letters and numbers on uniforms and armbands to signify their role with a team.
Let’s take a deep dive into what this means for NASCAR fans next season:
Why was this decision made?
NASCAR won’t admit it, but this was a cost-saving measure.
Budgets are out of control in modern-day NASCAR, so the sanctioning body has decided to police an area team owners have not been able to on their own. The Race Team Alliance has collectively said they want to lower costs, but if one individual team independently tried to do this, it would place them at a significant manpower disadvantage. But NASCAR also wants to spotlight additional team members aside from drivers and crew chiefs.
„This is about the drive towards parity,“ NASCAR vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said during a Wednesday press conference. „To give more teams a chance to win. If you look at this past year, there are more teams with a chance to win than ever before. We saw a different number of organizations bring new winners to victory lane. So this and the safety initiative drove this, and again, putting the focus on other team members as well — not just the driver.“
How does this influence parity?
NASCAR was not able to release complete details yet, but the idea was to take away some of the advantages that multicar teams and their satellite operations have on a week-to-week basis.
For example, when Martin Truex Jr. slapped the wall during Saturday practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Furniture Row Racing employees were joined by those from Joe Gibbs Racing to repair the car since they have a technical partnership. Under the regulations, crew members can only touch the cars they are assigned to when the weekly roster is released in advance of a given race.
Can an employee be added to the rosters of two different cars?
Yes. But it will count as one employee on both rosters.
Will some crew members lose their jobs?
It’s likely that every team will cut some degree of excess from their budgets as a result of this decision, but that was something the owners essentially asked NASCAR to regulate for them.
„Our intention is obviously not to put anyone out of work,“ O’Donnell said. „Our intention was to work with the race teams and get this in a position where we all felt we were ready to go. This has been dialogue that’s taken place with the race teams for a long time; we discussed it actually last year as well. … We felt the timing was right.“
How will this change pit stops?
Well, the over-the-wall limit has been reduced from six to five after getting reduced from seven to six back in 2011. Under these new regulations, the gas man will only be allowed to gas the car and will not be able to make any wrenching adjustments. Teams will have to get creative on pit road next season, so it will be interesting to see what form that takes. It’s worth noting, however, that O’Donnell said he didn’t expect stop times to increase by that much.
Why does NASCAR want to further limit the number of crew members going over the wall?
O’Donnell said it’s about safety and maximizing the competition on pit road. This decision also comes a year after NASCAR reduced the number of officials on pit road, combined with the PRO video monitoring system placed on the scoring tower.
„First and foremost, it’s safety, and we’ve taken some steps in our own house in reducing the number of officials on pit road,“ O’Donnell said. „We’ve got some of the best athletes in the world out there on pit road, so we’ll want to showcase them in as safe an environment as we can. Everybody obviously wants to see it play out on the track, but everyone kept in mind that our goal is to make the racing even better and to allow the possibility for even more teams to win a race and compete on pit road.“
Will NASCAR dictate the exact positions in each roster level a team must bring?
No. That will be left up to teams. A team can bring one crew chief and 11 mechanics to complete its road crew if that’s what it wants. Or it can be made up of a crew chief, car chief, five mechanics, two engineers and three specialists. That will be a team decision in the same way that a baseball manager can decide to carry more pinch hitters or relief pitchers.
What are the exact numbers for each national divisions?
|Series||Organizational||Road Crew||Pit Crew||Misc.|
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup||3 or 4*||12||5||Additional road crew spot at road courses, Indianapolis|
|XFINITY Series||1||7||5||Additional road crew spot available at 10 races|
|Camping World Truck Series||1||6||5||Additional road crew spot available at five races|