Motorsport News

Slow Stops, Speeding Penalties Hamper Contenders at COTA

2024 Cup COTA Shane van Gisbergen, No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet (Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images via NASCAR Media)

William Byron became the first multi-time Cup Series winner in 2024 with a victory in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. With only two cautions for the stage breaks and just three pit cycles, slow pit stops and mistakes on pit road became bigger in Texas. In particular, three drivers’ bids for a checkered flag got sidetracked by poor execution on pit road.

Christopher Bell

With the fifth-fastest practice times and a fourth-place qualifying effort, it was evident throughout the weekend that the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team had one of the fastest cars in the field. Crew chief Adam Stevens also dialed up a unique pit strategy, stretching their first run well into stage two to pit only twice in the whole race.

However, what seemed like a bold and potentially race-winning strategy hit a snag with a slow time of 19.5 seconds on Bell’s first stop at lap 23. The slow stop waiting on fuel cost Bell a great deal of track position, and Bell spent the rest of the race trying to gain it back. He nearly succeeded.

Bell pitted three to five laps later than the rest of the leaders; as a result, he had slightly fresher tires than the likes of Byron or Ty Gibbs. Bell used every bit of that rubber to drive back up to finish, just seven-tenths of a second behind Byron.

While it was an impressive drive for Bell, it could have been a different story for him and the No. 20 team with a faster first pit stop. We might be talking about Bell as the first two-time winner of 2024 instead of Byron.

Ross Chastain

The Melon Man made his presence felt up front, leading 10 laps during the final stage. While Byron did get around him through turn one on lap 44, Chastain was nipping at his heels as they pitted together on lap 45.

This is where it all went wrong for the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, taking 13.3 seconds on their pit stop relative to the No. 24 crew getting Byron out front with a blazing 10.4 second pit stop. While 13.3 seconds was considered a good stop 20 years ago, it is a slow stop in today’s era of highly trained pit crews and single lugnut tires.

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at …