New TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition format features best-of-three final

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INDIANAPOLIS – Two days before they compete on track to win the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, 10 of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ best pit crews will compete to decide which team is the fastest on pit lane.

The annual TAG Heuer Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition on Miller Lite Carb Day pits over-the-wall crews in a head-to-head, drag race-style event Friday with teams vying to claim the winner’s share of $50,000 from a total purse of $100,000.

In addition to the purse, participating crew members are eligible for individual awards from sponsors such as Firestone, Spyder, Lenovo and NAPA Auto Parts/Carlyle Tools.

“It’s a great way for the pit crews, the unsung heroes of IndyCar racing, to showcase their talents and skills on a stage of their own,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR’s president of competition and operations. “It isn’t just about the driver in this competition. Just like the race, you have to be on your game every stop or you’ll be knocked out.”

In a new twist, the final round will be a best-of-three showdown to claim the United Race Parts Golden Gun given to the winning team. Teams will change lanes between rounds. Lane choice is determined by the team with the fastest time in the semifinals, while the team with the best time in the final will have lane choice if there is a winner-take-all third round.

“If you’re the fastest, it won’t matter what lane you’re in,” Frye said. “You’ll sweep the finals.”

Six teams qualified based on performance during the 2016 season and 2017 races prior to the Indianapolis 500. Each earned automatic bids into the quarterfinals. Those teams are: the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team of James Hinchcliffe; No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing team of Ed Carpenter; the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team of Graham Rahal; No. 28 Andretti Autosport team of Ryan Hunter-Reay; No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing team of Scott Dixon and the No. 12 Team Penske team of Will Power.

The remaining four teams were invited based on being the second-highest-ranked team of a full-time entrant or an Indianapolis 500 competitor. Those four will meet in the first round with defending champion, the No. 3 Team Penske team of Helio Castroneves meeting the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team of Sage Karam in one first-round matchup and the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing team of Charlie Kimball meeting Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team in the other matchup.

Team Penske and Castroneves beat Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Aleshin to win the competition in 2016. It was the eighth time in 16 starts that Penske and Castroneves have won the event.

Miller Lite Carb Day action begins at 11 a.m. ET Friday with the final Verizon IndyCar Series practice prior to Sunday’s 200-lap race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. The Freedom 100 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race starts at 12:30 p.m., with the TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition at 1:30. The entire day’s action airs live on NBCSN.

Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets for Miller Lite Carb Day and the 101st Indianapolis 500.

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