Monday, May 9, 2016

Right Sides Only: Notes from the GoBowling.com 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

One of the best things about being part of a race team is helping the driver get to Victory Lane. There's something special about hoisting a trophy over your head and doing the "hat dance." Working with a driver who's talented enough to have visited almost every single Victory Lane on the circuit is extraordinary, and crew chief Adam Stevens is getting to do just that.

"... it's always cool to get to Victory Lane. But to knock off another place that KB hasn't won at is really special," Stevens said.
            
"He's got a very storied career, done a lot of great things. To help him accomplish the few things he hasn't done is really cool.
          
"It was a tough race. A lot of adjusting with the track conditions changing. Groove really widened up, which was really good to see. Lots of pit strategy and an overall solid night for the 18 team."

Following his win in the GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Busch has whittled to two the number of tracks at which he has yet to score a win. The only two left for him to conquer? Charlotte and Pocono. Guess which tracks are looming on the horizon? Yep. Those two.

Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

To check Kansas off the list, a track which had long been problematic for Busch, especially after its 2012 repave, Stevens made a bold call with 56 laps remaining. He left his driver on the track.

"Hadn't seen much speed in tires all night, not much tire falloff. We'd only gone about 25. It was about the perfect time to make that call. A little bit longer would have been harder to make the call and you'd have had less laps to pass the cars.

"It's just so hard to pass and the cars are so even. As soon as you get the track position, you need to do all you can to maintain it," Stevens explained.

Of course, Stevens needed his driver's skill and finesse to win.

"For some reason I was a little bit loose," Busch said. "I was trying to take care of my tires and make sure I wasn't slipping 'em and overheating 'em. But Kenseth was catching me. I was like, 'Okay, I got to go. I got to find some speed.' I wasn't able to find any. At that moment, I'm wondering, Okay, what am I doing wrong, what am I doing different from the previous run and why am I in this position?

"Fortunately, like I said, those couple restarts that I got, I just had a chance to regroup, resettle in and get my car back underneath me. That was the key for us."

The win, his third this year, moves the reigning Sprint Cup Champion to the top of the Chase grid ... right where he ended the previous year. With so much of the season remaining on the calendar, having Busch atop the standings now must be more than a little unnerving for 39 other drivers.

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   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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