Race Weekend Central

Monday Morning Pit Box: Early Pit Call Adds to Kyle Larson’s Advantage

Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Morning Pit Box, where we break down the crucial calls that shape the outcome of each week’s race. We take a look through the minds of those on pit road and, at times, call atop race control as well.

Kyle Larson‘s No. 5 Chevy was already one of the faster cars on Sunday night (May 21). With 250 laps in his pocket from winning Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, he had more of an edge. Oh, and Larson’s dirt-race prowess did not hurt things given all the slip and sliding on the old, old surface at North Wilkesboro.

See also
Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Larson Subs for Alex Bowman, Wins Series Return to North Wilkesboro

The fact is that Larson had an edge and No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels changed up the pit window a bit early on in the 200-lap all-star event, allowing Larson to have about 10 fewer laps on his tires as the 100-lap mark approached.

The result? Larson did his best to eliminate the competition, putting around all but the top 17 a lap down by halfway. That, in theory, shrunk the field. Sure, there would be lapped traffic to contend with, but it certainly reduced who Larson would have to deal with in fending off for the win.

Tire Gambles Few and Far Between

Tires and worn out pavement. Usually, they don’t work well together if you are looking for consistent speed. Before Atlanta Motor Speedway’s worn surface was addressed, it was very common for lap times to quickly deteriorate within a few times around the track.

There was a similar expectation going into Sunday’s All-Star Race, and with that in mind, very few crew chiefs opted to go with two-tire calls. For one, who could blame them? If this were a points event, that’d be understood. But this is an exhibition race, and if there is ever a time to lay it all out there and go for broke, what better time than Sunday night?

With the race deprived of a short run due to fewer cautions, crew chiefs did get put in a box with little room to work. Would someone have taken a chance with a caution in the final 20 laps? Maybe. Sadly, we will never know.

See also
Kyle Larson Dominates North Wilkesboro For 3rd All-Star Win

No. 21 Thinks Outside Box With Tire Call

Racing into the All-Star Race via a win in the All-Star Open may not help in the points standings, but if you are a race team in need of something good to happen? It certainly helps.

Harrison Burton, coming off a sporty run at Darlington where he finished sixth, looked to parlay that wind of momentum on Sunday in the All-Star Open.

Not among the fastest few cars and needing to finish within the top two to race his way in, the option to take a chance was seized upon by crew chief Brian Wilson, putting on two rear tires with the balance of the field on pit road. The move, due in part to the North Wilkesboro surface, didn’t vault Burton to a transfer spot in the end as he finished 11th, but in an exhibition race with no points, nobody should be blamed for taking chances.

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Echo

Why a story about Harrison Burton! His last good finish was because of attrition only, nothing he did. Why he has a ride I don’t know.

H

Same reason Austin Dillon has a ride!

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