During the Media Tour, Hendrick Motorsports was questioned of what would happen with the pit crews come 2011 after the struggles seen during the 2010 Chase.
[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignleft” width=”244″][/media-credit]It was revealed that five-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be taking three pit crews to the track each weekend between the two teams. The logic is that it will give them 18 crewmen to draw from if someone gets injured or performance problems are seen.
“We’ve always tried to work on the depth of our crew, but we’ve never been able to successfully pull that off,” Knaus said on Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour. “We think we’ve got it going in the right direction. It make take a little bit, let’s be honest, to get everything gelling in the right direction.
“But once it hits it’ll be exciting.”
The pit crew issues were spotlighted during the Texas race in the Chase where Knaus swapped pit crews with Jeff Gordon’s team.
Out of the first seven stops of the day, the No. 48 team had lost spots on four of them, costing their driver valuable time. Once teammate Gordon was wrecked out of the race, the swap was called.
“Ultimately, it was my decision to make the decision as we were getting beat,” Knaus said at the time. “I hope we get back with the 48 guys and get things back on track.”
The No. 48 team ended up using Gordon’s pit crew for the rest of the season on their way to winning the title by 39 points.
At the end of the year, the swap was reversed so therefore Steve Letarte, who was Godon’s crew chief at the time, could bring his team over to work with Earnahrdt in the new season. Knaus said of his team, four members remain in the mix, though nothing has been finalized.
“I can change at any point and time,” Knaus said. “We’ve always had that to a degree, but our backups weren’t necessarily ones that could get it done. I wouldn’t say get it done, but maybe guys on the back end of their career.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the No. 24 team of Gordon and the No. 5 of Mark Martin will have six full-time members per car and another four to share if problems arise.
The mentality that looks to be played out by Hendrick Motorsports is nothing different then what you see in most sports. Every hockey team, basketball team and football team has multiple guys ready to step up to the plate and makes line changes in the middle of the game. This looks to be no different with what Knaus has lined up as he just has created a second-line to swap partway.