On Track: Pit road

5 Jun

Everyone looked a little toasty Saturday morning, as the sun beat down to the tune of 95-plus degrees at Kansas Speedway. Today, for the Sprint Cup Series race, figures to be just as steamy. Taking the brunt of the heat (outside of the fans, of course) are the members of pit crews. I’ve got to hand it to them for their efforts.

Yesterday I stood behind the pit stalls, about 10 feet removed from the guys preparing tires, testing impact wrenches, readying 11.5 gallon, 91-pound gas cans, and surveying other equipment, including several computers that were set up on top of the massive “toolbox” – understatement of the year – that each team worked out of. The soundtrack to this was “Ain’t Goin’ Down Til the Sun Comes Up.”

Before yesterday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, it felt relaxed on pit road. I couldn’t wait to see the crews in action once the race started, and they did not disappoint. It was cool to be able to tell when a certain car was about to pit, because the team would suddenly begin moving about, all the members moving around at the same time, but somehow not in the way of each other.

When a team’s car got ready to come into the pits, crew members clad in firesuits, gloves, kneepads and helmets stood on the wall and got in a ready stance – almost like a defender on a basketball court, except these guys held massive tires, equally large gas tanks, jacks or impact wrenches.

As the team’s car decelerated impossibly quickly to 45 miles per hour, the driver’s crew members leaped over the wall, and the truck squealed to a stop. Every time, it looked like it would run right over the guys waiting to fill it with gas or change its tires.

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