Monday, April 18, 2016

Right Sides Only: Notes from Food City 500 Winning Crew Chief, Dave Rogers

by Stacey Owens

Like other crew chiefs, Dave Rogers is quick to thank the mechanics at the shop for helping to put together a winning weekend. From earning the pole to leading the most laps to winning the race, the No. 19 Comcast Business team was all business all weekend.

"Yeah, it was a great race there. Carl just did a great job of managing the race car, keeping it out of trouble. 
"But the biggest thing I take away from this weekend is the team effort. It started back at the shop, Lee Hallman and Kenny Oates putting together a great setup for us to come up here with and the mechanics putting that setup in, and of course all the guys at JGR that built the car and our partners at TRD that put the motor in it. Just a great race car, a great weekend for this Comcast Business Toyota Camry," Rogers said.

In fact, Rogers is having more fun this year than he's had in a long time, which is something he attributes to the people with whom he gets to work. Having worked at Joe Gibbs Racing for almost two decades, Rogers has had an opportunity to work alongside many great people, and he considers Carl Edwards chief among them.

"Coach [Gibbs] taught me long ago that it's all about people, and that's why I'm having so much fun. This 19 team is full of good people. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. I've been there 18 years or so, and I mean, it's just — there's good people everywhere.
"But this team, this 19 team, the pit crew, the road crew, everyone gets along so good, and Carl treats us with a lot of respect. He keeps a level head when we have down days like Martinsville. He doesn't get too excited when we have good days like today. So that even keel just lets you perform at your best, and you're always having fun when you're performing at your best," Rogers explained.

Though numerous teams in the 40-car field were plagued with tire issues throughout the afternoon, Edwards had no issues. Rogers addressed the ease with which his driver handled the race.

"I just think Carl drove a brilliant race. There was plenty of times that he was running, and the 4 car, someone would be tracking us down, I'd read lap times and let him know that, hey, we're a tenth off, we're a tenth off, we're a tenth off, and then all of a sudden he would run a tenth-and-a-half quicker to show me that the car had it and then back it down. So I think Carl did a great job of managing the tires. It was just our day today, I guess," Rogers explained.

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Despite Rogers' years of service to the Gibbs Racing family, this is his first season atop the pit box for Edwards. Fans may recall that Rogers was a crew chief for Kyle Busch during the 2014 season. After eight races, how is Rogers feeling about working with his "new" driver?

"I think at some point you don't know what you don't know. I think my main focus right now is to keep bringing good race cars to the racetrack, consistently, each week. We ran really well at Texas, and we ran really well here, but two races doesn't make a season. We need to do it all year long.
"I think the biggest thing is chemistry, just the way we communicate about the car and the way we communicate about life. That's a big thing.
"I feel you're always trying to get the most out of your driver. You're always trying to tell him what you need to tell him to allow him to perform, and the driver is doing the same for the crew chief.

"But the relationship that Carl and I were able to build this winter, I just feel really comfortable being me calling the races. I call them the way I want them. I don't have to take on an adaptive personality of any sort, and it works for Carl, and likewise, I hope he feels very comfortable being Carl and communicating the way he wants to, and that's a big deal. That's a real big deal," Rogers said.

Want to know what else is a big deal? With Rogers' leading, the No. 19 team has claimed its place on the Chase grid. Edwards is looking forward to making a run for the championship with Rogers at his side.

"I truly have never worked with someone that I think is more like me and communicates the same way as I do. If we don't win the championship, it will not be because of any problem between Dave and I. It's unreal. And I'm not just saying this because he won this race, but he's already like a brother. It's unreal. I'm really, really happy with being with Dave. We don't get along with everybody, but we get along with each other really well, so it's great," Edwards explained.

Sounds like a match made in Sprint Cup heaven. 

   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.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves 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.


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