The Little Lug Nut That Could
Lug nuts are the outcasts of equipment. They’re left behind for brooms to claim or discarded in buckets with all the others. They have little job security, too.
Lose a lug nut, however, especially when track position’s at stake, and pit road can come crumbling down in tenths of seconds.
During pit stops, one of five lug nuts can sometimes lose its way and fall off — to the rear, right, left, under the car or through the wheel. No sense trying to find it in this mess. That’s why there’s always a spare close by.
“We hope for the best, but are always prepared for the worst,” said Brian Dheel, the No. 84’s rear tire carrier.
Spare lug nuts are in all sorts of places on tire carriers and changers. On the helmet, just next to the jaw (above). Maybe on the top of the glove or belt. These unsightly, nicked-up chunks of metal look out of place, but they’ve earned the real estate.
When things go bad, the little guy comes through in the clutch.
“The worst thing that can happen is it falls off and you can’t find it. I’ve found that’s the quickest way for me to recover if a lug nut falls off,” said Aaron Schields, the No. 83’s front tire carrier. “You always have to be prepared for what you can’t control. I’ve been fortunate and haven’t had very many fall off.
“It’s all preparation, man.”