Monday, July 27, 2015

Right Sides Only: Brickyard 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

They have won four of the last five races. It's a remarkable feat for any team. It's even more dramatic since they're led by a driver who sustained what could have been career-ending injuries. Kyle Busch's recovery and return to not just the track, but also to Victory Lane, have been nothing short of phenomenal.

Adam Stevens is always quick to credit every person who had a hand in making the car and the team the best they could be.

"Well, I think it has a lot less to do with myself or my individual race team as much as it has to do with the entirety of Joe Gibbs Racing. These cars don't go fast because of one person. I've said it before; you take one person out of the 550 that work at Gibbs, and the whole thing comes crashing down. Everybody has to execute and do their job. And when everybody does that, you can adjust quick. Having trust in the people that work with you is a big deal, and everybody puts their ideas in of what's going to make these cars go, and everybody gets to work on it.

"You can't underestimate the hard work and the dedication of the folks back at the shop that make these cars go fast," Stevens explained.

Part of doing his job is taking care of his driver. Stevens watched Saturday's Xfinity race, which Busch also won, from his motorcoach and then spoke to his crew chief and to Busch about how to keep him cool in the car.

"[I] made sure that we did everything we could, even to the detriment of the performance of the car, to make sure that he was comfortable today ... These cars are sealed up so tight, that's the way they run the fastest, and it makes the interior of the cars really hot. And with the tail extension of this new package and the big spoiler, there's just not the air moving inside or under the car, and that's adding to the heat. We just dumped some air into the cabin to keep the air circulating. It's not rocket science. But we run better when Kyle is healthy. Certainly run better when he's in the car. We've got to keep him in there," Stevens said.

Credit:Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Every crew chief must admit that one of the most crucial elements of his work is relaying information to his driver. Stevens knows exactly what to share and when to share it.

"Kyle is the type of person that when you need to relay some information to him, you can't be afraid to tell him in a way that he's confident in it. We just have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, and we approach racing and race cars in general the same way ... all he needs is information.

"Every caution we had was completely legitimate, well-founded, needed to throw the caution. If you don't tell him that and then they get the mess cleaned up before he gets to that part of the track, he doesn't know why the caution is out. It's not rocket science sometimes, but I'd get frustrated, too, if I had a lead late in the race and the caution comes out and you don't see the debris or you don't know why the caution comes out. A lot of times a little bit of information goes a long way," Stevens explained.

Speaking of information, for those of you doing the math, the No. 18 team is currently a mere 23 points shy of that all-important 30th place that will make them Chase eligible. Whoever said you'd never need math wasn't a NASCAR fan.
   Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    Her other interests include country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.