It's not a space shuttle launch.
What can be so difficult about changing four tyres and putting gas in a car?
Clearly, the task becomes more difficult when 13 seconds is the standard for an excellent pit stop. On the other hand, the seven members of a NASCAR Sprint Cup over-the-wall pit crew have been drilled on their respective tasks with more repetitions than they care to remember.
In the past, pit stops have been likened to a well-orchestrated ballet. This year, there's more Bubba than Baryshnikov on pit road.
Uncharacteristic mistakes by top teams have exacted a heavy price this season. Lug nuts that 'fell off' the wheel studs during pit stops cost the Roush Fenway Racing cars of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth in the April 5 Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. In Edwards' case, the lug problem on the final pit stop probably cost him the race.
In Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeff Gordon lost 77 points of his lead in the Cup points standings because his crew failed to secure a lug nut during a green-flag stop.
Jimmie Johnson might have been able to challenge team-mate Mark Martin for the victory, but he never got the chance. Johnson repeatedly drove up through the field, only to have lug-nut problems set him back.
“We drove up to the top-five, top-three a few times, come down pit road and had something going wrong with the glue on the lug nuts and the wheels,” Johnson said after the race. “They would just fall off on our pit stops. It happened like three times.
“Track position is so important here. I'd work my way all the way back up there and then it would happen again. That time we got up to fourth, I really think we had a shot at winning this race if that didn't happen.”
It's not just the lug nuts that have come unglued this year. You can add a few pit crews and drivers to the list.
Walk down pit road a few hours before a race, and you'll see tyre changers meticulously gluing lug nuts to wheels. Ideally, when the tyre carrier hangs his tyre during a pit stop, the tyre changer can hit the lug nut with his air gun and secure it to the stud.
This year, the ideal is less often the normal. For safety reasons - to lessen the likelihood of a loose tyre being jettisoned from a car - NASCAR mandated that at least one thread must show on the outside of a lug nut once it has been tightened.