Race Weekend Central

Monday Morning Pit Box: Hendrick Pit Crews Are Hot & Cold at Dover

Denny Hamlin dominated the third stage of the Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway to secure his third win of 2024 and the 54th of his NASCAR Cup Series career.

Hamlin took control of the race by winning the race off pit road during the yellow flag pit stops at the beginning of stage three. According to FOX Sports, the No. 11 crew’s pit stop under that caution was the third-fastest four-tire pit stop in the Cup Series this season as both Hamlin and the team around him continue to perform at a championship-contending level.

Let’s check on the other major pit road storylines from The Monster Mile.

See also
Denny Hamlin Holds Off Kyle Larson for Dover Win

Up and Down Day for Hendrick Pit Crews

On a day at Dover featuring only five cautions and significant tire wear, there was little imagination to each team’s pit strategy, with four-tire calls every time down pit road. That made clean execution on pit stops all the more important. For Hendrick Motorsports, one of its pit crews rose to the occasion while another floundered their way out contention.

During the race’s first green flag pit cycle beginning on lap 183, Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team put together a fast and efficient 9.94-second four-tire stop. Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr., who was the race leader entering the pit cycle, fell back because of a 12.74-second stop from the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing crew.

As a result of the quick stop, Larson assumed the lead and held all the way to the end of stage two, picking up a playoff point that could be pivotal late in the season. For comparison, the table below shows the pit cycle times for the No. 5, and the No. 19, and two other teams who pitted from the top-five. These times cover pit entry, time in the stall and getting off of pit road and back up to speed.

Car No./TeamPit Cycle Time
5 /Hendrick Motorsports1:30.63
19/Joe Gibbs Racing1:34.62
45/23XI Racing1:31.49
24/Hendrick Motorsports1:45.91

You may notice that the total time for William Byron and the No. 24 team is way higher than the other three. That’s because during the same lap 183 pit cycle Byron, who led 36 laps in stage one and pitted from the top five, fell victim to a pit stop mistake. While changing the left-side tires on the No. 24, the jack fell early before the left-front tire was completely secure, forcing the crew to get the car back up and take 24 seconds to complete the four-tire stop.

Consequently, Byron lost his prime track position, falling back to the late teens after green flag pit stops wrapped up. This put Byron in the wrong place at the wrong time to get caught up in the lap 329 wreck that knocked the No. 24 out of the race, coming home in the 33rd position.

Dover marked the first DNF of 2024 for Byron and the No. 24 in what has otherwise been a successful season to this point.

Corey Heim’s Welcome to the Cup Series Moment

Dover is infamous for having one of the narrowest and slowest pit roads in all of NASCAR. The perils of pitting at The Monster Mile were on full display on lap 42, when almost the entire 37-car field pitted together under the first caution of the afternoon.

Corey Heim, making his Cup Series debut subbing for the injured Erik Jones, made contact with Tyler Reddick and got spun around trying to enter his pit stall. It was a prime example of a welcome to the Cup Series moment for the 21-year-old out of Marietta, Ga.

To Heim’s credit, he recovered from the early pit mishap to finish the race three laps down in 25th place, a respectable debut outing under the circumstances.

See also
Corey Heim Comes Home 25th in Cup Debut at Dover

Look Ahead to Next Week

The NASCAR Cup Series will head to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway for the running of the AdventHealth 400 next Sunday, May 5. With less tire wear than Dover, the crew chiefs could make more two-tire or fuel-only calls in an attempt to gain track position. Don’t be surprised if fuel mileage also factors into the outcome at some points as well.

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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