Ford crews talk about new tire rule

Beginning this week a new NASCAR rule will take effect in which teams must pick up both right side tires on every pit stop or risk a possible penalty. Ford pit crew personnel spoke about what changes, if any, will have to be made in...

Beginning this week a new NASCAR rule will take effect in which teams must pick up both right side tires on every pit stop or risk a possible penalty. Ford pit crew personnel spoke about what changes, if any, will have to be made in terms of how they perform their stops.

RYAN PEMBERTON, Crew Chief --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE RULE?

"I think it's a good idea. We do it pretty religiously. I think it's something that needs to happen. I don't think it needs to be an option, I think they need to just make it happen. You see it every week. From a competitors standpoint to safety, I think it's a good idea all the way around to pick up that tire. I don't see any reason to not pick it up. There's no reason to say you can leave it out there. The only time we ever leave one out there is if maybe on a green flag pit stop, make sure it's down and there's nobody pitting around us. I mean, I think under caution it should be mandatory to pick up your tire. I don't think it's fair to the other competitors."

HAVE YOU HAD AN EXTRA PRACTICE THIS WEEK?

"No, we've always done it so maybe it'll help us. Maybe it won't be a disadvantage for us this week and it'll be a disadvantage for some guys who haven't been practicing it. We've done it all the time just because we never wanted to take a chance of a tire getting away from us or going down pit road. I'm not saying it won't happen, but we just try to guard against that and we don't feel it hampers our pit stop that much so we just do it."

EARL BARBAN, Jackman --2-- Miller Lite Taurus

DOES THIS RULE CHANGE THE WAY YOU WILL HAVE TO DO YOUR PIT STOPS?

"Well, we're gonna have to do it every time now. We're gonna have to bring the tires back every time. We have pretty much been going with whatever has been happening on the track. If we're gonna come in on a green flag stop and there's not anybody around us, then no, we don't bother with the tire. If we're making a green flag stop and there's nobody around us and we're making a wedge adjustment or track bar adjustment, I try to keep it as close to the car as I can to let the guys in the rear have some free time back there. But if it's under yellow and if we're pitting in front of someone who is already in their stall, then yeah, I have to take it because it's gonna be in their way. I take it and hand it off to the rear tire carrier. In our circumstance, it's not really gonna effect us. Before this year we used to take it back all the time and never once left it out on pit road. I think it's gonna mess up some people here on pit road. There are a lot of people that have never taken that tire back and that's evidenced by the rule change."

DOES THIS PIT ROAD AT MARTINSVILLE CREATE MORE PROBLEMS FOR SOME OF THOSE TEAMS?

"Yeah, I think it's gonna take more time on their pit stop. It's gonna take them just a little while to get used to it, but you don't have much time here anyway. The stalls are all real tight with drivers squeezing in and track position, I don't know that it's not any more important here as it is everywhere else either. We feel good about the change. We practiced the change to make sure that we do it every time. It's easy for me. I pull the tire off and instead of just sitting it there I just roll it towards the wall. The rear tire carrier comes around and as he's coming around he just pushes it towards the wall. We shouldn't have any problem, I hope. Not that we haven't had problems with our pit stops lately, we've had a lot of changes in seven races, so we've just gotta get it to where we stop making our changes and work with what we have and make that good. We just need time."

DID YOU PRACTICE MORE THIS WEEK?

"Yeah, we practiced four times this week. We practiced twice in two days and did about 24 or 25 stops total this week. I try to take care of the pit crew and try to get them out there twice a week just to pit four and then go on. You're really not gonna learn because the process is not any different. The car jacks up, the tires come off, the tires go on, and you go around the car. Now we're down to the fastest way that you can do it, you just have to knock the dust off once in a while. If somebody is having a bad week that kind of helps them get in a groove. But all the practice in the world at the shop doesn't get you ready for the car coming in crooked with two teams on either side of you...tires going here and there...hoses getting slid under the jack...cars cutting you off...but that's just part of it."

MIKE SMITH, Front Tire Changer --21-- Citgo Taurus

WHO HAS ADDED RESPONSIBILITY ON YOUR PIT STOPS?

"Really it's all the tire carrier. The tire carrier (Kenny Weddle, front tire carrier for the 21) is the one who has to change hands...like the guy that was carrying my tire, he used to set the front tire in left-handed on the right-front...now he's got to go all the way around me. For me, he's got to be there quicker and set it in with his right hand from the jack -- like he's going to the jack and set it in, and then come back around me. He's got to have that tire up before I can hit five buttons, which that's gonna be the only problem. The real fast tire changers, the tire carrier doesn't have the tire up yet before the tire changer hits his five buttons. I don't think it's gonna be a big deal, though."

DID YOU PRACTICE A LOT MORE THIS WEEK?

"We did probably 20 stops and they all went real good. We hit like the first two so he could get used to setting it in right-handed and after that everything went real good."

YOU'VE NEVER PICKED UP RIGHT SIDES BEFORE, RIGHT?

"Right. We'd usually leave them both but now we've got these two guys off a Busch car where they were used to doing it where the tire carrier brought the tire back. So the rear has been up anyway, I've just been setting the right front down at the jack and leaving it there with the jackman going around it."

IS IT GOING TO BE TOUGH DOING THIS HERE AT MARTINSVILLE?

"It's gonna be more dangerous really because you've got another guy farther over the wall. If there's a car turning in your pit box in front of you at the same time a tire carrier has got to come around me to the right-front to get that tire, he's gonna be out three or four foot farther on pit road than he normally is. See, normally, there's no way he could get hit because he's really at the edge of the right-front fender in front of the car, instead of out where he's gonna be at. He's gonna be farther out on pit road."

SHAWN PARKER, Rear Tire Changer --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus

HAS THIS RULE MADE YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOUR STOPS ARE CONDUCTED?

"As far as out team it really doesn't effect us. We bring our tires back anyway. The way we have is set up is my tire carrier in the back brings my tire back and the same with the front. Our front tire carrier does the same thing, so it really doesn't effect our race team. But I think it threw a curve ball to a lot of these race teams to have to do it because now they've been doing 15-16 second stops and now you throw something different in there and it might slow them down a little bit. This might be a small advantage for us because we don't have to start over and do another routine. We don't have to practice and practice and try to get fast because we've always done it that way. Hopefully, it'll be an advantage to us and maybe a couple of other teams that do it now. I think it's a good deal that NASCAR has done because there have been too many people getting hurt and it's taking too many race cars out of contention -- especially at Martinsville because it's a bad place for it."

HOW WILL THE RULE WORK ON PIT ROAD HERE AT MARTINSVILLE?

"It's OK for Martinsville. It's a small pit road and all, but it's just as bad at Martinsville as it is at Daytona. We had a kid get hurt at Daytona...probably the biggest pit road on the circuit and the kid got hurt at Daytona. So, obviously, you go to the smallest pit road on the circuit and somebody might get hurt, but I think they did the right thing. Jumping over that wall is dangerous anyway, whether you're going to bring the tire back or not. Whether you're a gas man, tire changer, carrier, jackman, it's dangerous going over that wall regardless of the rules. They're just trying to get one step closer to making it better and NASCAR has done a good job at it. Hopefully, it works well and nobody gets hurt."

Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 16 FamilyClick.com Taurus, hit the wall coming out of turn four during Saturday's morning practice session. He spoke about the incident, which will require the team to use its backup car for tomorrow's race.

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus

"We were three-quarters of the way through our run. The FamilyClick.com Ford was running really good, we were really happy with it. We made enough adjustments on it from yesterday to make it pretty good, but exiting turn four the right-front tire blew. Goodyear is looking at the tire, but, unfortunately, this is a brand new race car and we won't be able to race it on Sunday. It moved the frame over just a little bit in the right-front, so we'll just have to race the backup car."

IS THIS A CASE OF DEJA VU? DIDN'T THIS HAPPEN HERE LAST FALL?

"Yeah, last fall we wrecked a car in practice before qualifying. This time it wasn't my fault. This time a tire blew. We were just doing a long run. We were trying to get 100 laps on our tires just to see what the car would do and we ran 65 of them when we blew the right-front tire."

SECOND-ROUND QUALIFYING

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/Duracell Ultra Taurus -- "Yesterday I locked up the front brakes going in and qualifying and we thought we would have been a lot better than we were. So, I put a little bit of rear brake in it before qualifying (today) and I locked up rears on the way in, so I had to steer out of it and that's where it ended up."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Lepage