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Truckin’ Thursdays: Should NASCAR Eliminate Live Pit Stops?

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

As silly season rages in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, silly season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series typically is slower to develop because of the domino effect from the Cup Series to the NASCAR Xfinity Series down to the Truck Series. However, a tweet recently rumored NASCAR is considering abolishing pit stops in the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series.

First off, what is the validity of this tweet? FOX Sports analyst Bob Pockrass responded to someone questioning the truth and of this tweet.

Furthermore, Pockrass noted that while the NASCAR K&N Pro Series has breaks instead of pit stops, this idea has a long way to go before coming to fruition.

All three of the main NASCAR series and the ARCA Menards Series have live pit stops. Frontstretch‘s Bryan Davis Keith has repeatedly pleaded in his ARCA Racing Series Breakdowns for NASCAR to retain live pit stops once it assumes full control over ARCA next season.

When the Truck Series began, it did not have live pit stops. Instead, it had five-minute halftime breaks, which at the time were very popular among fans and TV networks. In 1998, NASCAR introduced competition cautions, and the following year, live pit stops were added to the Truck Series.

Would abolishing live pit stops and returning to a halftime break be good for the Truck Series? In short, yes and no.

The Truck Series is the third-highest division of NASCAR racing. Many drivers and crew chiefs aspire to eventually race in the Cup Series. The same principle is applicable to the pit crews. Some Truck Series pit crews are training for Cup Series programs, others are from pit road schools, some use combinations of those two and some Truck Series teams employ Cup Series pit crews.

As Gray Gaulding noted, if these novice pit crew members want to eventually pit for a Cup Series team, they need to practice first. Practice makes perfect, and the Truck Series and Xfinity Series races are those practice opportunities.

When NASCAR implemented stage breaks into all three main series, it gave Truck Series teams a bit of a reprieve in case they lacked top-notch pit crews. If they entered pit road on the lead lap at the end of the stage, no matter how slow their pit stops, they almost always stayed on the lead lap.

The amount of pit stops under the green flag therefore have diminished in the Truck Series because of stage breaks. Yet pit stops under the green flag offer teams the opportunity to use differing strategies to gain their driver positions or improve their truck. Plus, for the pit crews, learning how they will react to pressure under the green flag is an opportunity for them to hone their skills.

Live pit stops greatly affect the outcome of races, and NASCAR would be doing a disservice to the Truck Series by abolishing live pit stops.

Unfortunately, because of the high intensity and drive to perform well at races, the cost for a top-notch pit crew is yet another financial burden on Truck Series teams. Getting rid of live pit stops lowers the cost for Truck Series teams, offering the possibility of more owners entering teams in the Truck Series.

The Truck Series would be returning to its roots, and it would further give the Truck Series its own identity.

Would the entry lists resemble more of fields at short tracks or at Eldora Speedway with the lowered costs? That is something to consider. Given NASCAR does not release the purses for any of its series, lowering costs by abolishing live pits stops for the Truck Series could be a healthy injection into the series.

The absence of live pit stops could be appealing for fans, TV networks and prospective racetracks. Fans would see another restart, which would add more excitement to races. TV networks could use halftime breaks or competition cautions to go to commercial breaks, thereby allowing for more green-flag coverage. During competition cautions or halftime breaks, the pit-road reporters could talk to crew chiefs, the announcers could talk to more drivers, etc., giving fans more in-depth coverage during races.

Lastly, for prospective racetracks, no live pit stops could allow NASCAR to add more racetracks to the Truck Series schedule. If racetracks lack enough pit-road space for live stops, NASCAR will not give those tracks Truck Series race dates. Tracks such as Madison International Speedway, Evergreen Speedway, Five Flags Speedway, and others could potentially host Truck Series races. Would you rather watch a Truck Series race with a full competitive field on those short tracks or a race at 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway with a short field? If NASCAR abolishes live pit stops for the Truck Series, races at those tracks become more of a reality.

Full disclosure, I was too young to remember when the Truck Series utilized halftime breaks. Currently, NASCAR utilizes halftime breaks, so to speak, when the Truck Series races at Eldora. Could that format be expanded upon for the whole season? Sure, and as NASCAR has shown with the caution clock, if it is considering a format for all three series, the Truck Series is the guinea pig series for those ideas.

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About Mark Kristl

Mark Kristl
Mark joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is an Eagle Scout & a proud University of Dayton alum. He also writes about NASCAR for Beyond the Flag.

9 comments

  1. Avatar

    WTF? I remember when the trucks had a break instead of pit stops. It was stupid then and it would be even more stupid now. With the stage breaks green flag pit stops have already become rare, even in the cup series so why bother.

  2. Avatar

    IF they make any changes, I think they should do what most open wheel series do – no jackman running around, one man fueling, one man on each wheel to change tires, and one other allowed to make adjustments.

  3. Avatar

    Instead of halfway breaks to help the pit crews, how about just banning Cup pit crews from pitting Cup drivers in the lower series. If the Cup drivers are so great, they would still be able to do good with the crews from that series.

  4. Avatar

    I know this is a little off topic but related. I believe if NASCAR is going to have competition cautions and stage breaks then if you choose to pit at these times then you restart in the same position as when you pitted (as long as your pit does not exceed a certain time). Also, the laps run during the stage breaks and competition cautions should not count.

  5. Avatar

    If this were something NASCAR was considering, they would have one of their controlled mouthpieces like Dave Moody or Pete Pistone float the idea. In the past, they used the traveling press like the late Tom Higgins to get feedback on their ideas.
    Since neither of these are singing the praises of this really bad idea, the only place that it might happen is the truck series. And for that one it make sense.

  6. Avatar

    TV coverage would run commercials during the caution breaks……Ha! That was the idea behind stage racing, that TV would run their commercials during the caution flag laps. However, nobody convinced the TV networks to do that. So, as long as we have the TV packages that are on now, we will NOT see more green flag racing. They will continue to run their commercials whenever they want, whether NASCAR dictates it or not.

  7. Avatar

    I enjoyed the truck series when it raced short tracks only. Liked recent article about the tracks that closed, miss The ROCK, North Wilksboro, Bethlehem and Flemington, where incidentally I got to pit Doug George’s Ortho truck as I had won a Craftsman contest at Sears and got to help swap engine, decal new truck race morning and do the catch can during that 5 minute break. Got the pictures to prove it, it was a weekly contest that year. I agreed with the way trucks started with some money saving options. Bring back those good old days. Only bad thing was at some tracks it took years to get a ticket like to Bristol night race or New Hampshire. But you had a great fan base back then, now it’s a joke…

  8. Avatar

    The Truck Series is in major need of cost reduction. Unfortunately the genius’ at NASCAR are too headstrong to see the errors in their ways.

    Cost controls for Trucks:

    – Discontinue relationship with Illmor. Go with K&N Yates engine instead. 1/2 cost of Illmor with same power, and greater durability. K&N engine is essentially a SLM type Chevrolet LS based engine. Simple, effective, and plentiful. Everything necessary to reduce the barrier of entry.

    – Composite FiveStar bodies are needed. No body offset. Just hang it and go. Template inspection. No optical scanners.

    – No live pit stops. Controlled cautions only. If caution is waived all cars can enter. The order you enter is the order you leave pit road. Have 3 laps to complete service. Fall into line behind cars that stayed out. Go green lap 5 from original caution. Look at Eldora and how that worked out….and replicate it.

    – Reduce suctioning fees. Get the Trucks off of ALL Superspeedways. No tracks greater than 1.25 miles.