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The laws of the (pit) road
'99 News
Chocolate Myers

(Oct. 21, 1999)
You've probably noticed a time or two when you're watching the race from your television set and you thought you saw more than seven crew members over the wall. You scratch your head and wonder if your eyes have just deceived you, since you know that Ned Jarrett just recited the rule from the holy NASCAR rule book that says only seven crew members over the wall, period. Now you're really confused. You're wondering if some team out there is getting away with having more team members over the wall or just what is the deal?

Well, the truth is, as long as NASCAR gives the OK to a team, they are in compliance. There are certain situations in which NASCAR does allow a team to have an extra person over the wall, say to clean the windshield, but it's completely up to NASCAR's discretion. And usually they won't allow for this to happen, unless it's more than halfway through a race.

Also the "seven men over the wall" rule doesn't mean that you have to have seven people over the wall. It just means that there can't be any more than seven people.

And there's more. Just like most things, there's more to this rule than meets the eye. And believe me, I know what I'm talking about here.

Let me tell you a little story. A few years back, we were racing in Charlotte and we were involved in an accident. The car was pretty torn up, so I knew it was going to be on pit road for an extended period of time. So, I went over the wall to put my first can of fuel in. I was really in no big hurry, since the whole team was trying to make the best out of a bad situation. When I emptied my first can, I stepped back over the wall and got the second can instead of having somebody hand it to me, like I normally do. As I was about to step back over the wall, a NASCAR official told me that if I went on over the wall, I would be counted again. After a few words with this particular official, he told me I should read the NASCAR rulebook.

Later on, I did read it, and you know what, he was right. Hey, just because we're professional racers, and we may LOOK like we know what we're doing, we sometimes still need to check the rulebook. It's kind of like a football player who's standing in the end zone after a kickoff, trying to figure out should he touch the ball, or shouldn't he.

OK, here's the deal. Read this slowly, because it gets a little complicated:

After a crew member steps over the wall and starts to perform his duty on a pit stop, he is counted as one of the seven people for the remainder of that pit stop. What that means is, if a tire carrier, or a gas man, or whomever, is working on the car during a pit stop, and he has equipment failure, or any other type problem, and he goes back over the wall, to the equipment side of the pit wall, and then steps back over the wall again to the pit box, then he would be counted again as the eighth person even though he's the same person.

At this point NASCAR would penalize the team, even though the person who is being counted as eight, is of the original seven.

Imagine that me counting as two people! Whoa, now there's a mental picture.

Danny "Chocolate" Myers is the gas man for Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt. You can visit his Web site at www.gasmanchoc.com.