Monday, February 23, 2015

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Winning Crew Chief

Usually after a race win, the focus is on the winning driver. Everyone wants to know what he felt in the closing laps and who he wants to thank for helping him get to Victory Lane. That was certainly the case after the 2015 season opener, the Daytona 500, which saw Joey Logano wheel his Pennzoil Ford to his first win in the iconic race.

That isn't the case in this column. "Right Sides Only" will tell the tale of the race from the perspective of the man atop the war wagon. As every driver attests, NASCAR is a team sport, and the crew chief is the team captain.

Going into this year's Great American Race, the focus was on Jeff Gordon who led the field to the green flag for his final year of competition. However, as the checkers flew, attention turned to another Gordon --Todd Gordon-- crew chief for the No. 22.

When asked what were the keys to winning the race, Gordon said he felt making the right calls to have stability in the car for Logano to stay up front was instrumental. He further acknowledged Logano's ability to find the right lines to run as well as spotter Tab Boyd's work to help his driver maneuver to the front of the pack. Gordon also credited Clint Bowyer for working well with Logano throughout the afternoon.
Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon in the Daytona garage, Jan. 10, 2013
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Even team owner, Roger Penske, cited Gordon as being one of the reasons Logano performed so well.

"For me it's a credit to what Todd's done... Joey, he and and Todd have built a bond together, which is important. They trust each other. You could see it. The calls on the racetrack, stay out, two tires, four tires. That's what you have to have. It was a perfect day."

Though there was concern about possible engine issues following problems for teammate, Brad Keselowski, Gordon maintained his composure.

"You worry about the things you can control in this sport. At that point we have no control over it... we had managed where we needed to be with our motor all day. Fortunately everything worked out for us."

When asked what winning the Daytona 500 felt like to him on a personal level, Gordon practically beamed, and focused on his relationship with Logano.

"It's been great," he said. "The relationship is something where we trust each other with everything. Today was a perfect example of 'I'm too tight,' I call for two tires, there's no hesitation in Joey's mind. He understood track position was what we had to maintain... I don't ever question what he does. I've never heard him question me, so..."

Logano agreed with his crew chief, "I don't question you, man. You're smarter than me."

Thanks to Gordon's great calls and his intellect, both of them are forever recognized as Daytona 500 winners.


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