To say that NASCAR fans have not embraced the Next Gen car and the host of other changes coming into the sport in 2022 would be wrong. Simply because ‘not embracing’ doesn’t do justice to the reaction these changes have caused. But despite that, the change is coming and teams have to adapt. This is something Joe Gibbs Racing is also doing so that drivers like Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are ready to fight for the ultimate prize.
And for that to happen, for their great drivers to win the great championship, JGR understands the importance of having a great team all around.
So for the coming season, they are redefining the pit crews, introducing a change in pit crews in line with the change of the pit stops, which is in line with the new single-nut wheels.
“I think the Next Gen pit stop is going to be one of the most critical components of the event,” Chris Hall, the director of player advancement at JGR said. “If the Next Gen car is the great equalizer for race teams and race car drivers, pit stops are going to be the great separator.”
Hall, who considers the pit crew members as athletes, and rightly so, pointed out how he has been tasked with finding such athletes from all walks of life. He explains it has allowed them to become more diverse.
Intensive work could be key in a good season for Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin
Chris Hall explained how they spent the entire 2021 season practicing the Next Gen pit stop in the simulator, along with taking part on race weekends.
“It was grueling for our guys (but they) handled it like pros. It was a lot of the coaching staff. It was a lot on the film (department), and I mean, everyone was maxed out,” he said.
We feel like that allowed us the opportunity to put the best guys in each position, which will allow us to make great teams for the Next Gen pit stop.”
Jul 18, 2021; Loudon, New Hampshire, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) pits during a cation after a collision with driver Denny Hamlin (not seen) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Hall also described the shift JGR has made from a traditional way to a more nuanced and modern way of doing such things.
“We make data-driven decisions,” he said. “You have to perform to play, and that separates Joe Gibbs Racing from a lot of other race teams, in my opinion. It all goes back to the numbers.”
“All those things have to line up for you to be successful.”