A sticker Alternate Firestone Firehawk Racing Tire (red) is ready to be passed over the wall during a pit stop. The long-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES partner sponsors the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award to honor the pit crew that is the fastest during the season (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

By Steve Wittich

The five-way battle for the Astor Cup and two-way fight for Rookie of The Year grabbed most of the attention during the Firestone Grand Prix Of Monterey weekend; at the same time, the struggle for an under-the-radar but uber-important award was also coming down to the wire.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES partner Firestone generously offers a $150,000 prize split between the three crews that spend the least time on pit road during the season. The crew that spends the least time on pit road wins $75,000, while the next pair of fastest crews receive $50,000 and $25,000.

After the Grand Prix of Portland, Scott McLaughlin’s No. 3 Team Penske crew held a slim eight-point lead over a charging No. 12 Team Penske group and their driver Will Power.

Also with an outside chance was the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing crew and Scott Dixon, who had been the quickest on pit road at four events headed to the finale.

On Sunday, Power and the No. 12 crew, which includes Trevor Lacasse (crew chief and outside front), Trey Williams (inside front), Adam Janus (outside rear), Doug Snyder (inside rear), Blaine Hardy (air jack), Eric Crabtree (fueler) and Andy Greer (tear off) got the job done, spending the least time on pit road for the third straight race and fourth time in 2022.

“They’ve been solid all season,” said Power when TSO asked him about the No. 12 group giving him confidence going into the finale. “(Trevor) is a great crew chief, and it’s just a really positive group on the car. I’ve been fortunate to have these guys; we are a tight-knit group.

“They’ve been super consistent. The outside rear guy (Adam Janus) is in his first year, and he’s been pretty methodical about the way he does stuff and slowly picking up his pace. I tell them you don’t need to do anything special, just get us out. Do what you know.”

Power is the first Indy car champion in the last 25 years to take home the crown with only one win, making the little things like pit stops and the positions that can be gained a crucial part of the title. Power finished 29 spots ahead of where he qualified and won the championship by only 16 points. You do the math on that.

Final Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award standings (note that the Indianapolis 500 is not included)

RANKCREWPOINTS
1No. 12 – Team Penske544
2No. 3 – Team Penske522
3No. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing487
4No. 2 – Team Penske456
5No. 10 – Chip Ganassi Racing426
6No. 21 – Ed Carpenter Racing338
7No. 5 – Arrow McLaren SP335
8No. 8 – Chip Ganassi Racing324
9No. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian309
10No. 15 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing306
11No. 60 – Meyer Shank Racing304
12No. 28 – Andretti Autosport279
13No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP277
14No. 30 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing243
15No. 29 – Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport236
16No. 51- Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR231
17No. 27 – Andretti Autosport231
18No. 45 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing227
19No. 06 – Meyer Shank Racing212
20No. 48 – Chip Ganassi Racing203
21No. 20 – Ed Carpenter Racing192
22No. 77 – Juncos Hollinger Racing181
23No. 18 – Dale Coyne Racing with HMD181
24No. 4 – A.J. Foyt Racing129
25No. 14 – A.J. Foyt Racing125
26No. 11 – A.J. Foyt Racing78
27No. 33 – Ed Carpenter Racing38
28No. 06 – Arrow McLaren SP18

After winning his second championship, Power singled out crew chief Lacasse, who started his Team Penske career as a mechanic on the Aussie’s car in 2010, as a positive force during the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.

“Yeah, I’ve had a few different crew chiefs, but I would say that he is the most positive, lighthearted guy I’ve had and very nurturing just with the guys,” said Power about Lacasse after the final race of the season. “I think everyone is happy on the crew.

Trevor Lacasse (in grey) gets drenched after leading the No. 12 crew to the Astor Cup and the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award title during the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)


“I’ve had crew chiefs that were really tough on the guys. They demand everyone to really do their job properly. But Trev is just — he’s a great guy, a great human, and very good at his job, and he keeps everyone calm, including me. He just says, just do what you do, man; nothing special. I’ve been saying that, too, on the radio. We come in for a stop, nothing special, boys, just do what you know.”

Power’s crew was one of eight that was the quickest during a race, winning that title at the Iowa Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway, Portland International Raceway, and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing crew also topped the competition four times.

A hearty great job goes out to the No. 21 crew of Ed Carpenter Racing, who was one of only three crews to best Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing with the least time spent on pit road at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was good to other crews as well, with the No. 7 crew of Felix Rosenqvist the quickest group at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, helping propel the Swede to a fourth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Also, the No. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian spent the least time on pit road during Colton Herta’s GMR Grand Prix victory.

The No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing / Bitcoin Racing Team under the watchful eye of the crew at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. They spent the least time on pit road during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

VeeKay’s crew, led by Jeff Frederick, ended the season in sixth place, the best non-Penske or Ganassi crew.

Side note: Rinus VeeKay was sporting a bushy mustache at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in honor of the character Rooster from Top Gun: Maverick. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was VeeKay and his crews best performance of the year, maybe the mustache needs to come back.

Fastest driver and crew at each 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES race this year

EVENTBEST DRIVER/CREW
Firestone Grand Prix of St. PetersburgNo. 3 – Team Penske
XPEL 375No. 2 – Team Penske
Acura Grand Prix Of Long BeachNo. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing
Honda Indy Grand Prix of AlabamaNo. 3 – Team Penske
GMR Grand PrixNo. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian
106th Indianapolis 500 Presented By GainbridgeNo. 7 – Arrow McLaren SP
Chevrolet Detroit Grand PrixNo. 2 – Team Penske
Sonsio Grand Prix At Road AmericaNo. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-OhioNo. 21 – Ed Carpenter Racing
Honda Indy TorontoNo. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing
Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 presented by DoorDashNo. 12 – Team Penske
Hy-Vee Salute To Farmers 300 presented by GoogleNo. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing
Gallagher Grand PrixNo. 2 – Team Penske
Big Machine Music City Grand PrixNo. 10 – Chip Ganassi Racing
Bommarito Automotive Group 500No. 12 – Team Penske
Grand Prix of PortlandNo. 12 – Team Penske
Firestone Grand Prix Of MontereyNo. 12 – Team Penske
The No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing crew of Scott Dixon perform a pit stop at the Iowa Speedway. The “Wolf Pack” helped Dixon spend the least time on pit road during the Hy-Vee Salute To Farmers 300 presented by Google (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

The quickest crew doesn’t always win the race, but it certainly helps to have one of the five fastest. Eleven of the 17 winners had their crew finish in the top five quickest of the race, and every winner’s over-the-wall group was in the top half of that race’s competition. As a result, the average finishing position of the race winner in the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award standings was precisely five.

Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award winning crews (includes the Indianapolis 500)

RANKENTRYWIN
1No. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing4
2No. 12 – Team Penske4
3No. 2 – Team Penske3
4No. 3 – Team Penske2
5No. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian1
6No. 21 – Ed Carpenter Racing1
7No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP1
8No. 10 – Chip Ganassi Racing1

Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award top five crew finishes (includes the Indianapolis 500)

RANKENTRYTOP 5s
1No. 3 – Team Penske12
2No. 12 – Team Penske11
3No. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing9
4No. 2 – Team Penske8
5No. 10 – Chip Ganassi Racing7
6No. 21 – Ed Carpenter Racing6
7No. 5 – Arrow McLaren SP5
8No. 15 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing4
9No. 60 – Meyer Shank Racing4
10No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP4
11No. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian3
12No. 8 – Chip Ganassi Racing2
13No. 28 – Andretti Autosport2
14No. 30 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing2
15No. 20 – Ed Carpenter Racing1
16No. 77 – Juncos Hollinger Racing1
17No. 48 – Chip Ganassi Racing1
18No. 23 – Dreyer & Reinbold Racing1
19No. 33 – Ed Carpenter Racing1
20No. 29 – Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport1
The No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing crew services Santino Ferrucci during the 106th Indianapolis 500 Presented By Gainbridge. The crew spent the third least time on pit road, an impressive feat for a one-off entry. (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award top ten crew finishes (includes the Indianapolis 500)

RANKENTRYTOP 10s
1No. 12 – Team Penske14
2No. 3 – Team Penske14
3No. 9 – Chip Ganassi Racing12
4No. 8 – Chip Ganassi Racing11
5No. 5 – Arrow McLaren SP11
6No. 10 – Chip Ganassi Racing11
7No. 2 – Team Penske10
8No. 60 – Meyer Shank Racing9
9No. 15 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing9
10No. 26 – Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian8
11No. 21 – Ed Carpenter Racing8
12No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP8
13No. 28 – Andretti Autosport7
14No. 51- Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR5
15No. 48 – Chip Ganassi Racing4
16No. 06 – Meyer Shank Racing4
17No. 27 – Andretti Autosport4
18No. 29 – Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport4
19No. 45 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing3
20No. 30 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing3
21No. 20 – Ed Carpenter Racing2
22No. 77 – Juncos Hollinger Racing2
23No. 14 – A.J. Foyt Racing2
24No. 18 – Dale Coyne Racing with HMD1
25No. 23 – Dreyer & Reinbold Racing1
26No. 33 – Ed Carpenter Racing1
27No. 06 – Juan Montoya1
28No. 4 – A.J. Foyt Racing1