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New stud lengths cause havoc on pit road

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.



Related Pictures

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Kyle Busch makes an unscheduled pit-stop during the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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Attila - Unregistered

April 23, 2009 1:20 PM

I didn't know that Phoenix was in Britian, where tyres are used, I thought Phoenix was in the U.S.A., and we use tires here. :p Sorry hit the s for the x in the first comment.



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