One doesn’t exactly think of the concept of timing when it comes to NASCAR. However, it is more critical than one may think. It comes in many forms, and can both make and break a team’s day.
Often timing is thought of when qualifying, because the lowest time gets the pole.
But during a race, timing is even more critical because of so many ways it comes up. The timing of the first pit stop, whether it be during a caution or during scheduled green-flag cycles. A team that’s struggling, may take an early caution as a chance to make changes, then at the next caution, if timed right, will stay out to gain positions.
Pit stops themselves are all about timing. It’s like a dance, where any missed step will cost time on the track. Seconds in the pits relate to sometimes miles on the track. It’s been seen a lot this year with pit crews making mistakes, whether it’s coming over the wall too soon, or the now strictly enforced lug nut rule. The driver as well can be part of that, because being caught speeding on pit road costs the team time on the track. Under yellow, it just means time to go to the rear of the longest line, and move forward. Under green, it means the first time a pass-through pit lane at pit speed. Speed that time, it means come in for a stop-and-go in the stall. A third time means in addition to losing all that time because of multiple penalties, it costs a lap to the lead.
But the one way a driver is always critical of timing is on a restart, specifically if it’s the ones out front leading the way.
On the initial start of the race, the flagman is the one that starts the race, it is at his (or her) control. On restarts, it’s the lead car. At a certain area of the track designated as the restart zone, the leader is the one who must go first to create the start. However, after that point, if the leader has issues going, those behind are allowed to go. But the leader is the one on restarts that designates when the flag waves. This then becomes more about reaction time, and who possibly could react quickest.
That is what happened in Sunday’s race at New Hampshire, and it worked both ways. On the next-to-last restart, teams were irate about how Matt Kenseth seemed to slow down and get the field to slow up to him, and then he launched. Some believed he didn’t maintain speed, but instead he timed it so he slowed down enough to bring the field to him, and then leave them behind.
On the final restart, timing was more about keeping pace. Kenseth and Kevin Harvick both started well, but Harvick kept pace through the first two corners. It allowed him to be in better position for the third turn, which gave him the lead, and ultimately the victory.
Timing in NASCAR isn’t one of those items that is discussed every lap, every corner. But it certainly is critical when it comes to every race.
RESULTS: 1-Harvick 2-Kenseth 3-Kyle Busch 4-Keselowski 5-Kurt Busch 6-Edwards 7-Truex Jr. 8-Johnson 9-Kahne 10-Larson
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Logano 13-Elliott 15-Hamlin 16-Dillon 19-McMurray 23-Stewart 30-Buescher
CAUTIONS: 6 for 31 laps. Lap 125-131 (Debris-T1); 167-171 (Debris-BS); 241-248 (#46 Accident-T2); 265-268 (#95 Spin-T3); 286-289 (#6 Accident-T4); 292-294 (#17, 55 Accident-T2).
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 8 drivers. C. Edwards 1-30; M. Truex Jr. 31-75; C. Edwards 76; Kyle Busch 77-78; B. Keselowski 79-80; M. Truex Jr 81-124; Kyle Busch 125; M. Truex Jr. 126-166; C. Elliott # 167; M. Truex Jr. 168-178; M. Kenseth 179-231; K. Harvick 232-233; D. Patrick 234-242; M. Kenseth 243-294; K. Harvick
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 54 Mins, 15 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 109.291 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.442 Seconds
CHASE GRID: 1. Keselowski-2087 points; 2. Truex Jr, -1*; 3. Busch, -2; 4. Kenseth, -9; 5. Logano, -14; 6. Harvick, -16*; 7. Hamlin, -16; 8. Johnson, -17; 9. Elliott, -19; 10. Edwards, -19; 11. Kurt Busch, -20; 12. Larson, -30; 13. McMurray, -35; 14. Dillon, -35; 15. Stewart, -41; 16. Buescher, -60.
*Locked into next round.