Monday, June 12, 2017

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400 Winning Crew Chief, Jeremy Bullins

by Stacey Owens

All drivers want to win for their team owners as much as they want to win for themselves. When those drivers get their first win, especially when it's the first win for their iconic team owners in a few years, it's even more special. Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers, achieved just that at the Tricky Triangle.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins talked about how the No. 21 team got their driver to his first win.

"Just experience. I mean, we started this thing part-time in 2015, built a team, put people together, made changes here and there throughout, and have a group of people now that I feel like can compete as a team with anybody. We've had good cars all year. We've had good speed all year.
           
"The last few weeks we've been really fast and just had some unfortunate things happen but felt like we were in a position a couple times to take advantage of that, and today we put it all together and overcame some stuff, and it all worked out," Bullins said.

Now that the team has a win under its collective belt, will they approach the second half of the regular season any differently or will they continue with business as usual?


"More of the same. I mean, we're in the Chase now, and the reality of that is the way the points structure is, you have to win races to win a championship, and so there were some times like the Texas thing, I got questioned about going for stage points and all of that, but at the end of the day, all that stuff is going to add up at the end of the year. We went into the season thinking we could win a race and we could contend with these guys so that's the mindset we've had racing these races and trying to be aggressive at times. That's certainly not going to change. I feel like we've proven that we can do this. We beat some of the best today. We had a fast car. So I think for us, it's just more of the same, trying to carry on and build on this. We've said from the beginning that it's a process of trying to build a team that can do this week in and week out, and we're getting there, so we've just got to keep working hard and keep doing the things that have us here today," Bullins explained.

Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
For part of the first stage, driver and crew chief couldn't talk with each other because of a faulty radio. Bullins joked that there "was a lot of Morse code" as they tried to communicate. He talked about the issue in the post-race press conference.

"What happened was I kept hearing something key up, but there was no noise, and I knew right away that it was the mic in his helmet because that's why you didn't hear the car running, you didn't hear any background noise. I knew exactly what was wrong as soon as it happened, so I asked him, are you trying to talk to us and I heard it key up again, so I'm like, okay, there's no way to fix this without giving up a bunch of time, so we're just going to have to old-school it and get through it, and it was pretty much that simple," Bullins said.

To get the win, Blaney had to get past Kyle Busch. A four-tire call on the final pit stop turned out to the be the difference for the pass.

"I think we knew -- I think we had 15, 16 laps on our tires and there were still 20 to go. Felt like we were not the best car. I felt like the 18 was the best car, so we needed another shot at adjusting it and we needed tires. The guys we were scanning, the guys we felt like we were racing around us were probably going to come, too. So honestly, as soon as the caution came out, it's like -- I said, 'Hey, I'm thinking about pitting, out the window,' so it was like, okay, cool, here we come," Bullins explained.

Best car or not, Bullins made a great call. Now the team can look ahead to the playoffs and continue to tell the rest of the field, "Here we come."

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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; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.



2 comments :

  1. Good article. The 21 team has been real fast all year and could have had a couple more wins. Class act by Ryan in his ontrack victory celebration. He acted like a real racer instead of tearing his car up or sliding on his belly in the grass. Classy. Looking forward to more victories this year from young Blaney. He beat two champions to earn this win, no licking into it for him.

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  2. Thanks for your kind comments. We appreciate your reading!

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