Over the Wall with the RCR No. 8 Pit Crew

This year the All-StarRace Pit Crew Challenge is presented by Mechanix Wear at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The team pit crews play a vital role in every race, but none more so than this weekend.

The starting lineups for the two heat races on Saturday and the All-Star Open on Sunday will be determined by the Pit Crew Challenge on Friday and the fastest pit crew team will also earn a 100k bonus.

This is how the pit crew challenge works:

It will consist of only one driver at a time and no speeding penalties. When the driver reaches one stall away from their designated box, the time begins. Once the driver is in their pit stall, it’s a four-tire stop and no fuel. However, the fuel man will be there with an empty can. After the driver reaches the speed line, which is one pit stall past their box, the timing ends for the stop.

If there’s any equipment out of the box, or if they go over the wall too soon, there will be a five-second infraction deducted from their time for each violation. If they have a loose wheel, then they’re disqualified. The results of the pit stop time only will determine the starting lineups for both the All-Star Heat Races and All-Star Open.

I spoke with all five of the pit crewman for the No.8 team of Kyle Busch about today’s All-Star competition to determine how they approach this event.

MW: As the jackman, you’re leveraging the car for your other teammates to complete the stop together. Do you feel any added pressure during the All-Star pit crew challenge?

Josh Sobecki: (Jackman) I don’t feel any added pressure. I guess I never really have. It’s a little nerve-racking having everybody watch you during that stop but, it’s also really fun and a great experience. Just have to execute what you already know and you’ll be just fine.

MW: Are there any advantages with the rules entering and exiting the box that are in your favor?

Josh Sobecki: The best advantage, we have is Kyle Busch. The man is P1 on and off pit road all the time, so any help is the best. And he always hits his marks well which makes us do our job better as a team.

MW: Once the jackman has the car up, as a tire changer,  briefly explain your position. 

Bryan Backus: (Front Tire Changer) Before the car stops, I should be on the lug nut already. Once the jackman gets the car up, the lug should be off. Then I have to pull the tire and roll it back to the wall then switch my button and zip the lug nut back on after the jackman hangs the tire. 

MW: While passing the tire off to the tire carrier, do you feel any added pressure since this isn’t a normal race pit stop, but a challenge of speed?

Bryan Backus: I actually never hand the tire off to the carrier because I roll the tire back to the wall. It actually feels like less pressure because we are just going to try and do the fastest stop possible. 

MW: Coming into today’s All-Star Pit Crew Challenge, how do you mentally prepare for it?

Marcus Horton: (Rear Tire Changer)

I mentally prepared for today just like any other race. Easy going. Relaxing. 

MW: What if anything, do you feel will be the toughest challenge as the rear tire changer?

Marcus Horton: Getting to the right rear is always my toughest challenge. Depending on where Kyle stops the car makes all the difference for me. 

MW: On a normal fuel stop,  you feel the weight of the can plus the fuel. Explain how today’s challenge is different.

Justin White: (Fuel Man)   First off, today will be a lot of fun because Fuelers will get to participate. In years past we had to watch the competition from behind the wall. Having an empty can will feel different from a normal pit stop, but it allows me to be there for my rear changer to help guide the left rear tire coming off back to pit wall as I’m fueling the car.

MW: In the past, teams have had tires roll away on pit road. Coming into today’s challenge, how do you prepare for this and your role as the tire carrier? 

Lamar Neal:(Tire Carrier) I always try and prepare myself mentally before any pit stop by doing that, I get to visualize executing each component of my job, setting the tire for the jackman, hanging the tire for the rear changer, and cleaning up anything that is left behind going into the left side. As a carrier, I am depended on to be the cleanup man and that’s what I pride myself in doing.

The format is unique and to be eligible for the All-Star Race, a driver has to meet one of the following four criteria: They have to be a points race winner in the NASCAR Cup Series in either 2022 or 2023, a former All-Star Race winner, or a NASCAR Cup Series champion, top-two finisher in the All-Star Open, or win the NASCAR Fan Vote.

Even though Alex Bowman qualified for the race, because of an injury that has him temporarily sidelined, Josh Berry will be piloting the No.48 in the All-Star Open. He will need to finish in first or second place to transfer to the main event. Drivers who are not eligible for the All-Star Race will compete in the All-Star Open, where the top two finishers will advance to the main event. The Fan Vote winner will complete the field. 

I’d personally like to thank the entire Richard Childress Racing No.8 Cup Series Over the Wall Pit Crew of Kyle Busch as they head into today’s All-Star competition at North Wilkesboro.

“This one’s for you old buddy !!!! Going to Give ’em hell tonight !!!” – Josh Sobecki 
jongurley @nascar #allstarpitcrewchallenge @rcrracing

In loving memory of Jon Gurley 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Melissa Wright
Melissa Wright
I've been a freelance writer covering Motorsports for over a decade and a half. My column, "Over the Wall". has been my main feature focusing on the unsung heroes in racing. If I'm not trackside; I spend my time volunteering with several veteran based non-profit organizations such as: Team Rubicon, One Tr1be Foundation as well as The American Red Cross. Also, I'm the secretary at The Hour Glass Initiative where we focus on mental health and suicide prevention.


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