Martin Truex Jr.: Pit stops are still a learning experience

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 16: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, speaks to the media during the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

As an exhibition race with a halfway break on a quarter-mile track, the Feb. 6 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum didn’t feature pit stops.

But pitting the Next Gen cars—perhaps under green-flag conditions—certainly will come into play this week during Thursday’s Duels and during Sunday’s Daytona 500 that could present potential pitfalls, given the move to a single lug to fasten each tire and a larger 20-gallon fuel cell in the NASCAR Cup Series cars.

Given the new specs, fueling the cars could take roughly three seconds longer than changing the tires, throwing off the timing ingrained in drivers throughout years of working with the previous car.

“It’s going to—I’m sure—bite some people,” said Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. “I really have no idea. Pit stops are all about timing. You kind of know when you stop, and the jack goes up how much time it will be. You kind of have a little bit of a routine with the gearing and the clutch and where your feet are on the pedals trying to leave the box, so definitely a little bit different here.

“It’s just something we have to get used to. It’s going to be weird the first time I’m sure—the first couple times—just figuring it all out. Pedals are different, shifters are different. The timing is going to be all different for us.”