Monday, September 7, 2015

Right Sides Only: Bojangles' Southern 500 Winning Crew Chief, Darian Grubb

The throwback theme was more than just a retro look at uniforms, paint schemes, and announcers from days gone by. It was a look back at the last several races as Joe Gibbs Racing drivers continued their domination of the 2015 season.

Led by driver, Carl Edwards, and crew chief, Darian Grubb, the No. 19 team of JGR picked up yet another trophy. This time it was at Darlington Raceway in one of the series' crown jewel events, the Southern 500.

Down by two laps during the race, Grubb was impressed with how well his crew performed to give Edwards the track position he needed to make a run for the win.

"They just did an incredible job all night, the whole ARRIS Toyota team from Joe Gibbs Racing. Everything that they've done all year, they've been phenomenal and at least tonight we were able to show off a little bit and put him out there in the lead and have a chance to win. We've had some really good runs this year and they've been able to knock it out of the park when it mattered, and this still wasn't their best stop of the night. They had six stops that were under 11 seconds. It was an incredible night," Grubb said.

The evening was long. Social media was abuzz with the length of the race, fueled by multiple cautions. As the night wound down, Grubb explained how hard the crew fought when the chips looked to be down.

Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs
"Yeah, it was mainly not giving up, made sure everybody kept faith that we could get back there. We knew the car was fast because I think ... we went from 16th to fifth in the first 40 laps. We knew we had speed, so we just had to make sure we put him in the right situation. We didn't take the first opportunity to try to do a wave around because we ran such fast laps after coming in to pit under green and we thought we'd used up too much tires. So then we went I think it was 27 green-flag laps the time we stayed out. It was a big risk but we had to, and Carl did a great job saving the tires during that whole run and still managing it and making sure we stayed in front of the leaders when the caution came out, and it came out with about 20 laps until we had to pit. It ended up working out and worked our way, right back to the front for the lucky dog position and got back on the lead lap, so it was just a testament to the team to never give up and keep fighting really hard," Grubb explained.  

With the high number of cautions, teams found themselves trying to save tires despite needing to change all four with each pit stop. Grubb talked briefly about the final stop of the night and whether it was ever a question to change right sides only.

"Absolutely not. We had one set of stickers left there in the pit stall, just based on the way that we had played the race, and we knew at that point that we had to have a fighting chance with four tires just to make sure we could give him a shot, and I think everybody on pit road knew it. That was a long enough green-flag run before that that you had to have the tires," Grubb said. 

This entire season has been a bit of throwback of sorts for the driver and crew chief. The two were adversaries on the track during 2011 as Edwards fought for a championship, eventually settling for second place as Grubb took home a championship with driver, Tony Stewart. They may be fighting on the same side, but Grubb doesn't let Edwards forget who has the better track record.

"I got the ring," Grubb boasted.

Edwards realizes he has Grubbs's experience on his side this year.

"Here's the deal. Darian is a championship crew chief. I've worked against him. I've raced against him, and I've worked with him, and it's like Coach said, there is nobody that calls a better race than Darian Grubb. That's it. We've just got to go dig deep and give each other 100 percent and go get a championship together. That would be so cool, especially after what he did to me in 2011. It would mean a lot to win a championship with him," Edwards said.

With the way this team and the rest of the Gibbs organization have been performing in recent weeks, that championship win is certainly possible. 


   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.