Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Right Sides Only: Notes from Pennsylvania 400 Winning Crew Chief, Bob Osborne

by Stacey Owens

Not many crew chiefs who think they've entered a race with a Top-15 car end their day with a visit to Victory Lane. Bob Osborne is the exception in the wild, rain-soaked weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Rookie driver Chris Buescher scored his first Sprint Cup win after the regularly scheduled race was rained out and moved to Monday, August 1. Rain was again a factor as it shortened the race by 22 laps following a dense fog that rolled in and made racing impossible. Many spotters used the red flag conditions to tweet that teams had experienced every weather situation short of snow during their time in Pennsylvania.

Osborne helped his driver secure track position prior to the foggy conditions.

"It's pretty awesome. It's pretty good company, as well. Pretty wild day. Pretty eventful weekend. A lot of things worked out really well there at the end, and some things that I thought were heading in the wrong direction when I cut a rear tire down just trying to avoid a wreck, and we ended up in a good spot there at the end, and Bob made a good call to hold out on the weather and make sure that we could run as far out on fuel as we possibly could, and it worked out really well. The weather got here just when we needed it to," Buescher explained.

Osborne was quick to credit the changing conditions for lending assistance to his efforts.

"All in all, we had a -- to be honest with you, a top-15 place car. It was decent, and it was heading in the right direction from where we were the first race here and for where we are with our program.  But with fate really going our way today and calls going our way, which we haven't had a lot of this year, it worked out to put us in position to win it," Osborne said.
Credit: Rebecca Kivak for Skirts and Scuffs

Part of the race certainly didn't look like it was going their way. Shortly before Lap 100, Buescher cut a tire. He explained his train of thought at the time.

"Yeah, basically getting into Turn 2, it was after a restart or pretty close, and basically a couple guys in front of us got crossed up getting into 2 and out of shape, and I tried to avoid the 44. It was kind of sliding back and forth, and when I pulled down the track, there was a car to the inside a little bit closer than I thought, and honestly I probably didn't need to pull down that far, but we've been hit in the right rear this year before, and that's no better.
           
"It smoked really bad. It actually cut the tire down coming off of 3 as we were hitting pit road, so we got really lucky there for once this season. We got lucky and were able to hit pit road, and then I messed up our luck and I sped off of pit road.
         
"You know, I've got to get a little bit smoother in situations where things don't go our way. I've got to try and calm down a little bit and make them a little bit easier on everybody back on the box," Buescher said.

Osborne and his team handled the situation like pros and got their driver in position as the bad weather arrived, despite the fact that Buescher didn't immediately notice the rain.

"I did ask him I think the very first time I asked him how the track looked, and he said, 'Oh, it looks okay right now,' and I'm like, 'No, it's raining somewhere on the racetrack,'" Osborne explained laughing.

With the win and the fact that the team is currently a few points outside the top 30, which would lock them into Chase contention, how does Osborne assess their season going forward?

"Yeah, I guess coming into the weekend, evaluating our season and what we wanted to have happen this weekend in particular would be improvement upon the first time we were here and having a better handling race car, having a faster race car relative to the competition and being able to build on that for the rest of the season was our goal, what we were looking for.          

"We did accomplish that. We had a better, faster, more competitive car than what we had the first race here, so I was happy to see that, and we're going to continue to do that race after race for the rest of the season," Osborne explained.

If they intend to race their way into the Chase, they have five races left to break into the top 30.

To their credit, Buescher is already preparing for next weekend's stop at Watkins Glen. Rather than taking time to celebrate their success in the Poconos, he boarded a plane for Utah so that he could get in some practice time at a road course school so that he can improve prior to this weekend's race.

With their newfound outlook on the remainder of the season, other teams with more resources may find themselves outside the coveted 16th-place position in just a few weeks. Look for some teams to scramble for that position over the next few races.

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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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