For years, when NASCAR teams showed up to the racetrack each weekend, they would not only bring their fastest bullet of a race car, but their fastest gun to pit road.
Compression air guns used by tire changers had evolved over the years, with teams in an “arms race” to develop their own faster and lighter equipment. Thousands of hours and significant sums of money went into making their respective air guns the quickest and most effective they could possibly be for optimal performance.
That all changed during the off-season when NASCAR mandated a standard Paoli air gun for every team on pit road for the 2018 season.
Instead of bringing their own guns and equipment to the track each weekend as in years past, teams are now required to pick up the mandated Paoli guns, air hoses and regulators from NASCAR about an hour before the race starts. This allows NASCAR to keep a tight check on the equipment and reduce the possibility of any tampering or altering of the equipment.
According to Richard Childress Racing pit crew coach Ray Wright, the newly NASCAR-mandated guns are equaling the playing field on pit road, especially for those smaller teams that may not have had the funding and resources to research and develop new technology to make their previous guns better.
By bringing in an air gun that is provided by the sanctioning body, each team is now working with the same technology as the other 39 teams up and down pit road. RCR supported the change and quickly went to work focusing on how its teams can optimize the pit stops.
“At RCR, we are happy about the new Paoli air guns. We’re happy that everyone is on a level playing field,” said Wright. “It’s just going to make the competition better. It’s like Major League Baseball. You can’t bring an aluminum bat to a baseball game; everybody has to use a wood bat. Everybody has to use the same football in the NFL. In every sport, there are regulations that keep the competition close and that is what NASCAR is doing on pit road. Although we had developed our own terrific RCR air gun, the move to the standard Paioli gun is a significant initiative and we’re excited for the change. I think our guys have been taking advantage of it.
“Paoli has done a solid job organizing all of this and making sure all of the pick-ups go smoothly. They are trying to prevent any problems that may arise,” he said. “When we’ve had problems, they have done a great job addressing them. We’ve got to be patient, but this is the best scenario for competition on pit road”
Much like any new technology, Wright indicated there will be some growing pains with the new Paoli guns, but that ultimately those will be worked out and everyone will be better in the long run because of this shift in the rules.
“Everybody has to understand we’re going to have problems with these guns,” he said. “When we started our own program at RCR we had sockets fall off at the racetrack, we had gun malfunctions at the racetrack. Every single team on pit road has been through the development of guns, occasional issues and the bad things that can happen.