If Jeff Gordon wins the Daytona 500 next week, he can thank his crew for delivering the perfect pit stop
Catch Can Man
Hurd plugs a catch can into the overflow valve at the rear of the car, then takes the first gas can from Craven. Hurd doesn't have to move around much, so he presses close to the car to stay out of everyone else's way. When fuel starts flowing into the catch can, he knows the car's tank is full and gives Cook the all-clear signal.
Not a job for the weak. Craven has to carry an ll-gallon gas can, which weighs 80 pounds when full, and attach it to the car's fuel tank. He then gives way to Hurd and retrieves a second can. While Craven's lugging the container, the trick is not to disrupt Church and Lupo as they move from the right side of the car, to the left, changing tires. Bumping into Church or Lupo can cost Gordon a few precious seconds.
Rear Tire Changer
Church must wait for the 24 car to pass in front of him before moving into position on the right side, so he leans as close to the car as he can—about eight inches from it—as Gordon enters the pit. After changing the right rear tire, Church races to the left side, dodging Hurd, Craven and anything they might've spilled. "Fuel, that's what I worry about," says Church. "They spill gas in that corner, and it's slick as ice."
Rear Tire Carrier
His primary job is to place tires at the ready for Church, but Lupo is also responsible for making chassis adjustments if the car isn't handling well, which may be requested by radio from Gordon only seconds before he arrives in his stall. "I've done the wrong thing in a race," Lupo says, "taking a round [of wedge] out when the crew chief said to put a round in, which makes the car handle even worse."
Brute strength helps, but being a successful jackman is "all about leverage," says Cook, who can raise a side of the 3,400-pound ear with one pump of the jack. The most important part of Cook's job is knowing When to lower the left side of the car. He has to wait until he gets all-clear signals from the catch can man and both tire carriers before dropping the left side. Cook can't do that too early, because the instant Gordon feels the car begin to drop, he hits the gas and pops the clutch.
Front Tire Changer
Gantt arid Curione cross to the right side of the pit when the entering 24 car is one stall away, placing them in a vulnerable position. If they don't stay alert to another car pulling into a stall in front of them, it might brush or hit them. Gantt can tighten all five lug nuts in roughly a second.
Front Tire Carrier
Curione puts new front tires in .place for Gantt, then makes sure the two spent tires make it to the pit wall safely. If they stray into pit road, NASCAR usually will penalize the team a lap. "If you have to chase a loose tire across pit road, it's like playing Frogger," Curione says. To save a microsecond, Curione gives the all-clear signal after Gantt has four of five lug nuts tightened; by the time Cook drops the car, the last nut will be in place.