Pikes Peak to Have Pit Stops

Pit stops replace halftime at Tempus 300 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 1998) The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' first visit to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., for the July 25 Tempus Resorts 300K will feature...

Pit stops replace halftime at Tempus 300

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 1998) The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' first visit to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., for the July 25 Tempus Resorts 300K will feature NASCAR-style tire changes during pit stops instead of the tour's traditional "halftime" break.

The one-race procedural change was announced to competitors prior to the July 12 NAPA AutoCare 200 at Nazareth Speedway, following lengthy discussions between NASCAR officials and the circuit's teams.

Dennis Huth, NASCAR vice president of administration, said the sanctioning body is approaching the switch as a test with additional evaluation to follow the 186-mile race at the Colorado Springs-area facility.

"This is a major change for the series and the reaction of all the teams is very positive," Huth said.

The mid-race break, during which teams are allowed to work on their trucks on pit road for a specified time period without losing track position, was introduced as a cost-saving device. It also was made necessary, according to Huth, by the large number of facilities signing up for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events which did not -- and do not -- possess adequate pit road infrastructure.

"We will limit each pit stop to five people over the wall," Huth said. "By doing that, the added costs to the teams will be minimal. That was one of our biggest concerns when this was initially discussed. Team members will now feel they fill a more integral role throughout the race."

The latter issue of pit road infrastructure, Huth added, would preclude any complete departure from a mid-race break or competition caution approach.

"Our teams have matured and jelled," he said. "We're listening to fans, competitors and our TV partners. This is the right time to introduce full-scale pit stops to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series."

The July 12 announcement to teams outlined a tire allocation policy, the size of over-the-wall crews and how many tires can be changed during caution and green flag conditions.

At the Tempus Resorts 300K, teams will be allocated four sets of Goodyear Eagle radials for use during practice, Bud Pole Qualifying and the 186-lap race. Each team will be required to start the race on the tires on which its driver qualified. Any two tires may be changed under each caution. The team is free to change any or all tires during green flag racing.

Over-the-wall crews will be limited to five persons, one of which must assist the team's fueler with a catch-can. With two fewer members than NASCAR Winston Cup Series or NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division crews, it's anticipated that tire changers also will be tire carriers, harking back to an earlier era in NASCAR racing.

"You're going to see a NASCAR Busch/Winston Cup type race," said Barry Dodson, crew chief for the Team ASE Ford driven by Mike Bliss, "with just not as many tire changes. If it's good for the series, we're for it."

Max Jones, general manager for Roush Racing, which fields Fords for Joe Ruttman and Cintas Rookie of the Year candidate Greg Biffle, was equally positive.

"I think it adds a new element to the truck series that we've needed to generate excitement for the fans and excitement for TV," Jones said. "The series has grown to the point where it needs that."

Among drivers most vocal on behalf of the traditional tire stops is Mike Wallace, who competed in both the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series before signing to drive Ken Schrader's Purolator PureONE Filters Chevrolet in mid-1997.

"I've been personally politicking for pit stops since my first race last year," Wallace said. "The fans want to see the guys race, from start to finish."

Ron Hornaday, the 1996 series champion and 21-time winner on the tour, agreed that pit strategy will add elements to which he and the Dale Earnhardt Inc., NAPA Brakes Chevrolet will have to adapt.

"My guys are ready," Hornaday said. "We're always ready, in case we have to make a pit stop during a race because of equipment failure."

The Tempus Resorts 300K will be broadcast live by CBS at 1:30 p.m. EDT and the radio affiliates of the NASCAR Truck Network.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ken Schrader , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Mike Bliss , Max Jones