Kyle Busch’s Team Committed a Black Flag-Worthy Mistake but Also Impressively Made It into the NASCAR Record Books
Through seven races, Kyle Busch has had mixed results. Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway had it all, and unfortunately for the No. 18 team, it turned out to be the latest case of what might have been.
Busch was justifiably not pleased when NASCAR black-flagged him late in the race when it discovered tape on the grille more than 200 laps after his team applied it. But it wasn’t all bad for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, and, in addition to earning a ninth-place finish, his team made it into the NASCAR record books.
Kyle Busch penalized late in race
Like the rest of the JGR fleet, Kyle Busch had a top car most of the day at Richmond. It was a nice change for a team that has struggled for most of the season and gone winless in the season’s first six races.
Late in the race, it appeared any one of the Gibbs cars might make its way to Victory Lane. However, that all changed with 49 laps remaining when NASCAR informed Busch’s team that it had discovered tape on the grille and he needed to make a pit stop to remove it.
Making an unscheduled green-flag pit stop late in the race was bad enough and effectively ended Busch’s chances at victory. But to make matters worse, NASCAR discovered and enforced the penalty more than 200 laps after the team had inadvertently applied the tape in the wrong place.
Busch’s team records fastest pit stop in NASCAR history
The delayed penalty call was undeniably a massive blow to what would have likely been a top-5 day for the two-time Cup Series champion. Interestingly, that top finish was only possible after Busch’s team set the record for the fastest pit stop in NASCAR history.
While the stops should be quicker from previous years because the Next Gen car has gone from five lug nuts to one, it was more impressive because of how it happened.
For months, the JGR teams have been talking about a new choreographed pit stop in which the pit crew goes over the wall and around the front of the car. When all is said and done, the right-rear tire changer finishes the stop on the left-front while the right-front tire changer ends on the left-rear.
The timing of it was impeccable during Sunday’s race and made history in the process with Busch getting in and out in a record 9.1 seconds.
Joe Gibbs Racing puts other teams on notice
The new pit stop, which JGR teams had practiced for over a year and only got recent approval by NASCAR, sent a message to the rest of the teams in the garage.
Rear tire changer Lee Cunningham, who has worked at his position for 17 years, told RACER the new stop got the attention of other teams and “a lot of them say they have some work to do. So, we definitely put the rest of pit road on notice.”
Up in the broadcast booth, Hendrick Motorsports VP of Competition Chad Knaus admitted the new style of stop showed him something that he had never thought about in the past with the gasman filling up the car uninterrupted because all of the crew members were working around the front of the car.
The Next Gen car has ushered in a new era of racing. And on Sunday, the Joe Gibbs Racing team introduced a new era of pit stops that will likely change the racing even more for years to come.
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