Yesterday at the NASCAR Media Tour, and so far today, there has been no clear answer to perhaps the biggest story line entering the 2018 season. "I haven't seen it" said Kyle Busch. "No, I haven't seen it yet" replied Denny Hamlin. "I saw it, but I can't say anything about it" is what Austin Dillon had to say. But what is this big story that nobody seems to have an answer for? The answer, the new five man pit crew system that will be debuting in Daytona in 2018. With one less man able to go over the wall in 2018, there will be different strategies by many teams in Daytona to try and perfect this new format. About a month and a half ago, at Champions Week in Las Vegas, Austin Dillon brought up a great point that I don't think anyone really took into consideration to start. That point was that every team is going to have a different way of changing four tires and filling their car up with fuel in Daytona. Another key point was that all teams will be studying each other to see which team hit the "jackpot" regarding who has the fastest way of completing service on their car without taking too much time. That team that has it down will become the model for the rest of the field, who may be lagging behind in pit road speed.
In my personal opinion, there has been one team that has been far superior than the rest on pit road, and that is Joe Gibbs Racing. Look for the JGR teams to have a method down that will be faster than the rest, mainly because of the way they revolutionized the old pit system. By modifying pit guns and doing other items different, they had a clear advantage for a few weeks before the rest of the field caught up to their modifications. Look for this to happen once again. Even though the pit stop speeds we saw last year will likely be increased by a second or two with the loss of one crew member over the wall, there will be one method that will stand out as better than the rest, and that team will be in great shape for Daytona Speedweeks due to the amount of time that goes into perfecting a pit stop strategy. I know it sounds cliche to say that the fastest pit stops will win the race in Daytona, but they will be more important than ever with the loss of one crew member in 2018, and that team or teams will be put in position to win the 60th Daytona 500 as well as in great position moving forward in the 2018 season.