Kevin Harvick will have a new pit crew for the first Chase race this weekend.
Swapping out crew members or even entire pit crews is nothing new to NASCAR and I have no problem with it ... In most situations.
This past week, two teams that advanced into the Chase have made alterations to their pit crews. In the case of Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing has completely switched his crew with Tony Stewart's guys. Richard Petty Motorsports has given Aric Almirola a new jack man and rear tire changer ahead of Chicagoland.
When it's right and when it's wrong
I have no issue with what these teams did. This is the championship and you want to have the best group of guys possible going into it, that's perfectly understandable. What I do have a problem with is when this happens during the Chase itself. Barring any kind of medical issue or family emergency, teams should not be allowed to touch their pit crews once the Chase starts.
An NFL team can't make it to the Superbowl and then switch every player they have with another team. Why is it allowed in NASCAR? Let's take a look back at the most notable and controversial situation regarding crew swapping. Here's a little back story before you watch the video - It's 2010 in the eighth event of the ten race Chase at Texas and Jimmie Johnson is in the midst of the championship fight.
This was so wrong in my opinion. It was the right decision by Chad Knaus and being the cunning crew chief he is, this was a good move from a strategic standpoint. If I was in his position, I would have been tempted to do the same. The fact that this is allowed to even take place is what irks me. There are three sets of eliminations in this year's format, which could cause some desperate teams to do some very desperate things ... Such as swapping pit crews.
This crew had been with Jimmie throughout the the first 75% of that Chase; some were even with him in previous years when he earned other championships. It shouldn't be acceptable for an entire crew to be junked in the middle of the Chase and even beyond that, in the middle of an actual race.
I hope we don't see it again in this year's championship hunt, but since there's no rules forbidding it as there should be, we very well could.