Technology Takes A Pit Stop

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In NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition, a fraction of a second is everything.

Need proof? Just ask Mark Martin. Despite leading 26 of the final 27 laps at the season-opening Daytona 500, the crown jewel event of stock car racing, the 25-year-veteran lost by a mere 0.020 seconds to Kevin Harvick only three weeks ago at Daytona International Speedway.

With that in mind, teams will try everything they can, within the rulebook, to get as much speed out of their race cars in their quest to be the fastest at every track on the calendar. But nowadays, that's not enough. Not only are there multiple high-level organizations with top notch drivers to compete with, but every team in the garage faces constant changes taking place throughout the landscape of the sport – including the introduction of a new car design (the Car of Tomorrow), new rules packages (like the smaller fuel cells in use this weekend), and changes to venues (like the reconfigured Las Vegas Motor Speedway) – just to name a few.

In today's NEXTEL Cup Series, building the fastest race car doesn't ensure a trip to Victory Lane.

That's where XOS Technologies comes in.

The eight-year-old sports technology firm based in Sanford, Florida recognized a specific need in the sport – increased speed and performance – and created a system that would improve the operation in one area that remains standard at all 36 race weekends: pit crews.

While working on speed with the over-the-wall crews is nothing new in NASCAR, as evidenced by the various teams who employ trainers that hold multiple practice sessions weekly, XOS Technologies takes it a step further by applying their know-how from the world of "stick and ball" sports to the fast paced arena that is NASCAR.

After working alongside several teams and crew chiefs, XOS created the Pit Coach Station, a system that allows teams to record individual pit stops using multiple camera angles. Once recorded, the software allows the individual teams to review their pit stops as a whole and by individual members through the use of frame-accurate stop watch technology. Additionally, it allows for the recording of comments for the entire crew and individuals for reference at a later date, both at the track and back at the shop.

Similar systems are already in use by 30 National Football League and 28 National Basketball Association organizations, individually adapted for their specific needs.

"Since its establishment in 1999, XOS has always approached the sports industry with a very clear vision of redefining the way people, especially coaches, athletes, fans and now pit crews, interact with and consume sports content. The XOS Pit Coach Station is a great example of how we do this," said Jason Murphy, Motorsports Product Marketing Manager at XOS. "The Pit Coach Station is very similar in concept and design to our contact sports video editing solutions. However, it differs in that we customized it specifically for motorsports. So now, it uses motorsports terminology, for example. But the technology itself is not brand new. This is a technology that contact sports teams have been using for several years."

"Basically, we've revolutionized how (NASCAR) teams operate through the use of digital sports content."

A total of seven teams in the NEXTEL Cup Series are using the Pit Coach Station this season. So far, they have amassed one victory, five top-fives, 13 top-20s and two wins in the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Pit Crew Challenge, a contingency program awarded after every race that recognizes the team that spends the least amount of time on pit road and finishes on the lead lap.

"The XOS Pit Coach Station has revolutionized pit stop breakdown and review," said Corinne Mauldin, Richard Childress Racing's pit coach. "It allows for quick review at the track and quick post-race breakdown of all pit stops. We can now see every movement a crew member makes which allows us to make adjustments to shave crucial fractions of seconds off of our pit stop times."

Along with all three RCR teams (Nos. 07, 29 31), Ginn Racing (Nos. 01, 13 and 14) as well as the No. 40 Coors Lite team from the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates stable currently use the technology.

XOS' breadth of knowledge extends far beyond this program, as they have also produced a system for Michael Waltrip Racing's Waltrip Raceworld that helps establish a specific tone and helps produce "the ultimate fan experience" according to Murphy. They also create and maintain a number of technologies for over 900 professional and collegiate sports organizations.

However, what matters most on raceday is the checkered flag, and the Pit Coach Station is one of many tools used by teams to reach their goal at Las Vegas and throughout the season.

For their part, XOS is more than happy to help their teams achieve that objective.

"NASCAR and motorsports are just as much a part of the American culture as any other sport," said Murphy. "There is a lot of technology growth within motorsports now and when we saw the need for pit crew advancement, we wanted to become a part of redefining how race teams interacted with sports content."

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