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When the going gets rough on pit road, well, a jackman can always hurl the jack through somebody's windshield to get 'em to buzz off

When the going gets rough on pit road, well, a jackman can always hurl the jack through somebody's windshield to get 'em to buzz off

NASCAR's pit roads can get jammed (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



   By Mike Mulhern

   Intimidation is part of the NASCAR game, on pit road as well as on the track.
   And whenever a driver buzzed a pit crew once too often, back in the day, one of the weapons of deterrence was the threat of putting a jack through his windshield.
   These days the tricks are a little more subtle, Eric Wilson says.
   Wilson, though, is an old-school NASCAR jackman, from Junior Johnson's University of Ronda, when this sport of stock car racing wasn't quite as prim and pristine proper as it is today.
    This season Wilson is pit crew coach for Richard Childress' three Sprint Cup teams, and Thursday night, as he warmed up to watch his three crews perform in NASCAR's annual Pit Crew Challenge, he was refreshingly blunt about life on pit road.
    "There are three or four drivers you just don't want to pit around," Wilson says.
    "One of 'em is driving anymore – Rusty Wallace. Nobody wanted to pit around him. You'd watch the pits get selected, and Rusty's pit was the last one anyone wanted to have to pick around.
    "Thank goodness he's not pitting anymore."
    Wilson laughed.


  Eric Wilson, pit crew coach for Richard Childress' three Sprint Cup teams, and a legendary jack man in his time (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   "There are a few others….there are some who don't care, who aren't courteous," Wilson says.
   "The thing is you just don't want anybody to get hurt. They've got 3400 pounds, and against a 200-pound guy, you know who's going to win.
   "Some of the drivers understand that…and some don't.
   "But that 15 by 30 foot area on pit road (the size of a typical pit) is ours. And you've seen guys get in fights…."

   And for the ones who don't understand that, what defensive tactics can a pit crewman use?
   Maybe throwing a jack through the windshield just isn't done anymore….
    "When you get buzzed by someone, it's so aggravating…and the pressure on pit road is pretty high," Wilson says.
   "It a guy buzzes you too often, you just fill an airgun with oil and spray it through his window or on his windshield. They don't like that.
   "Or you can lay a tire out there, and bust their front fender….
   "There are several other little things you can do."

   The key to a great pit stop of course isn't just the pit crew.
   Some drivers are simply much better than others at getting on and off pit road. The gold standard for that has been Matt Kenseth…one reason his pit crew has looked so fast for so many years.
   Among pit crews, who is the best?
   Wilson says that with so many green flag stops this season, and so few yellow flag stops, it's a bit difficult to determine.
    But he points to Kyle Busch and his crew and Carl Edwards and his crew as two of the best, on any given Saturday or Sunday. "And Jimmie Johnson's crew is starting to get its groove on," Wilson says.
   "However nobody is really standing out right now, because we haven't had many cautions," he goes on.
   "On a green flag stop, things are more driver-dependent, because a driver is going to make up more time coming and going out than you are on the pit stop itself."
    And, of course, a big factor on pit road – mistakes. Avoiding mistakes is usually the prime directive. At Richmond a few weeks ago, pit road mistakes were rampant, and however, and made a big difference in the outcome.
    "For us, with three teams, that's 36 pits each race that have to be really, really good," Wilson says.  "And out of those 36, sometimes it's the one that goes bad that goes on TV."
   Think Juan Pablo Montoya (42) is cutting it close on rival Kyle Busch? Just another night at the office for NASCAR over-the-wall men (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)




Might remember me from the modified days, started with Ralph Brinkley, Then with Kermit (who taught me really about racing) and Brent Elliott, finished with Speedy.
I had my left foot get run over on a pit stop at Martinsville. Was numb for a week. Can't remember who drove for us but he dusted the team of the driver that hit me the next week. Speedy said after I got hit that "it was just another Saturday night"! Of course the other team wanted to discuss it but Speedy said we came to race!!

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