The championship race was won when Larson’s pit crew hit the lug nuts the fastest and got the car out first. Now the pit team will be torquing one center lug. Of all the changes, this might be the biggest from a fan standpoint.
The car will look different and so will the pit stops. The five lug nuts are replaced with a single, center-locking lug nut for its wheels. The size of the wheels is increasing from 15-inch steel to 18-inch aluminum. This was another move to closer match production cars.
Single lug replacing five lug nuts
John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, said “I think from a fan standpoint, the choreography of the pit stop will look unchanged.” Probst said the same personnel will go over the wall and he addressed the criticism that it takes away from the unique NASCAR pitstop. “I think that a lot of times when we say single lug nut, people fear that it’s an open-wheel style pit stop where people will be on their knees waiting for the car to come in. We don’t intend to change anything with respect to how the pit-stop flow is executed.”
During testing, NASCAR noted that the timing of the pitstops is similar to five lug nut stops, however, there may be a few tenths of a second shaved off. “Good tire changers can take five lug nuts off or put them on in less than a second, say eight-tenths of a second to a second. They’re going to have to leave the gun on for probably at least a half a second, so if anything, they may be three-tenths (quicker) here and there, but it shouldn’t dramatically change the timing on the pit stop,” said Probst.