54 Team Takes Pit Crew Challenge at North Wilkesboro Speedway

#54 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

#54 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR Cup Series pit crews took centre stage on Friday, May 19, during the pit crew challenge.

Joe Gibbs Racing delivered when it mattered most by completing the fastest four-tyre stop and putting rookie Ty Gibbs on the pole for the All-Star Open. 

NASCAR took a new approach to qualifying for the All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Instead of sending each driver out for a single lap, the crews set the starting order for the All-Star Open and the All-Star Heat Races by completing four-tire pit stops. 

The format for the pit crew challenge was simple – each driver lined up on one timing line on pit road.

They then accelerated forward and stopped inside their stall. Once the crew completed a four-tire stop, the driver accelerated toward another timing line that stopped the clock. 

The winning pit crew put their driver at the front of the pack for one of the All-Star Heat Races.

The crew – crew chief Chris Gayle, car chief Nate Bellows, front changer Blake Houston, rear changer Michael Hicks, tyre carrier Jacob Holmes, jackman Derrell Edwards, and fueler Peyton Moore – also walked away with a $100,000 bonus. 

The winning crew spent most of 2022 with the #11 team and Denny Hamlin. They then switched to the #18 team and Kyle Busch after the Round of 16 in the playoffs.

This crew then joined the #54 team for the 2023 season as the championship-winning duo of Gibbs and Gayle moved from the Xfinity Series up to the Cup Series.

The #99 team of Trackhouse Racing missed out on the $100,000 bonus and the pit crew challenge trophy, but the team put Daniel Suarez on the pole for one of the All-Star Heat Races with a 13.297-second stop.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott will join him on the front row after a 13.572s stop.

The #17 team of RFK Racing delivered the third-fastest stop at 13.381s.

This put Chris Buescher on the pole for the second All-Star Heat Race. Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon will join him on the front row after a 13.712-second stop. 

The second-fastest Open time belonged to the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team. They completed a 13.677-second stop with backup driver Josh Berry, who replaces an injured Alex Bowman (fractured vertebra). Berry will line up on the front row next to Gibbs. 

Mistakes plagued several crews early in the pit crew challenge.

There were eight teams that received penalties for a variety of reasons, the majority of which were discovered during the post-stop inspection. 

The #15 Rick Ware Racing crew was the first to receive a five-second penalty during the session. Too many crew members went over the wall too soon during J.J. Yeley’s pit stop. 

The #13 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro, the #42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet Camaro, the #51 Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang, the #45 23XI Racing Toyota Camry, the #12 Team Penske Ford Mustang, the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, and the #6 RFK Racing Ford Mustang all received five-second penalties for loose wheels. 

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