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Monday Morning Pit Box: Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher Clash Over Pit Stall Drama at Charlotte

When Mother Nature arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Christopher Bell turned out to be in the right place at the right time as the race leader. With NASCAR unable to dry the track in time, officials called the race after 249 laps, giving Bell his second win of the 2024 Cup Series season in the Coca-Cola 600. Or should we say the Coca-Cola 373.5?

Either way, while the weather helped shape the race’s outcome, pit road also had a part to play in the night’s festivities.

See also
Christopher Bell Wins Rain Shortened Coca-Cola 600

Problems Exiting Pit Stalls Lead to Hurt Feelings

Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team kept losing spots during yellow flag pit stops last night, but it was not due to mistakes from the crew. Hamlin had problems exiting his pit stall trying to get around Chris Buescher, who parked early in his stall in front of Hamlin.

Under the first caution on lap 89, Hamlin could be seen backing up to get around Buescher, losing five spots in the running order. History repeated itself on lap 202 as Hamlin dropped four positions trying to avoid Buescher while exiting his pit box. It was after this second incident that frustration boiled over on the radio for Hamlin and his crew chief Chris Gabehart.

“Brother, if I do anything more than I’ve already done, we’re going to fight,” an angry Hamlin said over the radio after the lap 202 stop. “Do you hear me f—ing 17? Park in your f—ing box. I will stop on your bumper.”

Buescher also encountered difficulties with exiting his pit box due to John Hunter Nemechek pitting shallow in the stall in front of him. Like Hamlin did toward him, Buescher lost his cool with Nemechek after a long stop sent him back to the mid-twenties in the running order.

Coincidentally, Nemechek was slapped with an uncontrolled tire penalty on that stop.

Hamlin and Buescher both made in-race adjustments to attempt to resolve the issue, such as the No. 11 crew setting up a new tape mark a few feet behind where Hamlin was originally parking in the stall for pit stops. Under the weather delay, Hamlin and Buescher calmly discussed their pit stall dilemma, with crew chiefs Gabehart and Scott Graves joining in the conversation.

With the race called for rain, we will never know for sure if that discussion helped smooth things over between the No. 11 and No. 17 teams. Ultimately, Hamlin overcame the pit stall issues to come home in the fifth position. Buescher, however, was not as lucky, settling for 23rd when the race was called.

No. 54 Crew on Top of Its Game

Ty Gibbs had no such issues getting off pit road, earning the right to pick the first stall by pit exit after winning the Coca-Cola 600 pole on Saturday. Gibbs and his No. 54 crew made the most of that top stall, gaining a combined 18 positions across four yellow-flag pit stops on the evening.

The success of the No. 54 crew on pit road played a big part in Gibbs piloting his JGR Toyota to a sixth-place finish.

Busch Bounces Back Despite Pit Crew

While the No. 54 team excelled on pit road, the same could not be said for Kyle Busch and his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing crew.

Throughout the race, Busch got hit with not one but two pit penalties. During his initial stop under green on lap 43, the No. 8 crew lost control of one of their tires, leading to a pass-through penalty.  Later, on lap 142, NASCAR posted the No. 8 again for a safety violation during a yellow flag pit stop. Sandwiched between the two penalties was a slow stop that sent Busch to the back of the pack on lap 104.

Pit crew mistakes have been a theme for Busch and the No. 8 team so far in 2024, most notably at the Daytona 500 in February. With Busch hanging around the playoff cut line, it is imperative that the pit crew members clean up their errors soon.

See also
Kyle Larson Gets 18th in 1st, but Maybe Not Final, Indy 500

Look Ahead to Next Week

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Worldwide Technology Raceway for the running of the Enjoy Illinois 300 next Sunday, June 2. It will be the Cup Series’ third-ever trip to the 1.25-mile flat track just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

In the past two years, WWTR has proven to be a racetrack where it is difficult to pass, especially last season when Busch won from the pole. Therefore, do not be surprised if some crew chiefs opt to make two-tire or fuel-only strategy calls in an effort to gain track position.

About the author

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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 works as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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janice

Blah, blah, cry, cry, whine, whine, threaten, threaten… seems to be hamlin’s strenghs!

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