Analysis: Pit-road improvements key for No. 48 team in Jimmie Johnson's final run

Staff Report

With Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and William Byron each securing their positions in the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs, Jimmie Johnson was forced to watch his teammates contend for the title — an unfamiliar view for the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Struggling to end its winless drought along with an unexpected crew chief change during the year (plus the one in the offseason), the No. 48 team struggled to match the pace set by neighboring teams in the Hendrick stable.

RELATED: Inside Kyle Busch’s pit-road dominance

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For the first time since his rookie season in 2002, Johnson took the green flag at Daytona International Speedway listening to the voice of a new crew chief, Kevin Meendering. Still struggling to find Victory Lane late in the 26-race regular season slate, another change was made as Cliff Daniels took control atop the pit box with the tall task of righting the ship in Johnson’s quest for a record-setting eighth Cup Series title.

While the team found speed but struggled to produce consistent results with its on-track runs, the 48 team’s pit-road performance also ranked last among his teammates in nearly every category.

In 2019, an average four-tire stop for Johnson lasted 14.645 seconds compared to the No. 9 crew’s HMS-leading 13.839 seconds. The total time from entry to exit also lasted more than 47 seconds, though none of his teammates averaged over the 45-second mark.

Elliott’s No. 9 crew posted the fastest four-tire stop in seven of the 36 races, only trailing Kyle Busch for the series’ lead. Byron’s team also claimed five of the fastest times, while Bowman’s claimed one. The No. 48 group did not post the fastest single four-tire stop at any race last season.

Below is a look at the average time of a four-tire pit stop for all four of Hendrick’s teams:

Driver

1.5-mile

Superspeedways

Short Tracks

Elliott

13.753 sec

14.605 sec

13.497 sec

Byron

14.006 sec

14.942 sec

14.215 sec

Bowman

13.755 sec

14.363 sec

14.292 sec

Johnson

14.616 sec

15.296 sec

14.457 sec

Pit stats provided by SportsMEDIA Technology Corporation.

Racing in his final full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Johnson and company will look to make improvements in almost every area after posting a career-low 17.4 average finish and ending the season 18th in the final standings.

With Daniels solidly at the helm for the 2020 season, crew consistency and being faster on pit road will likely be a focus for the No. 48 team’s chase for an eighth championship.

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