Right Sides Only: Notes from the Gander Outdoors 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

Not every driver on the pole wins the race. Kyle Busch can attest to that.

Starting from the 28th position meant that Busch had some work to do to make it to the front. Crew chief Adam Stevens talked about the team mentality with such a mediocre starting position.

"Well, you're always thinking you have a chance to win. We have Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, we have Mars backing us, and we have Kyle Busch driving. I know if I do my job and keep my team focused that we'll have a chance to win. Practice and qualifying don't really play into the mental aspect of that at all, so I had high hopes we were going to have a good car, and we did.

"You know, we made quick work up there to the top 10, and once you get in the top 10, it's just a regular race from there," Stevens said.

After their tech issues, which relegated them to a less-than-stellar starting position, Stevens made some wholesale changes to the car to pass technical inspection before the green flag dropped. Was Stevens concerned about what those changes might mean for his team's speed?
"Not really. The issues that we had in tech, the reason we failed was completely my oversight. There's a rule with a number of fans that you're allowed to have to cool the tires and brakes, and I didn't misread it, I just neglected to read it, and says plain as day that you can only have one, and when you have two, you're outside of the rules. They can point to it and tell you, and you say, oh, yeah, I'm an idiot. You fix it and you move on.
"But we were on post-race tolerance, post-qualifying, and then we had to go to pre-race tolerance for some of the chassis measurements. But I wasn't really concerned that it was going to affect the speed of our car. I was gravely concerned that it was going to hurt our pit selection and have a negative impact on us every time we came down pit road, but the speed of the car not so much," Stevens explained.
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With the problems the team had getting through tech inspection, Stevens was asked whether he apologized to Busch for his oversight.
"Kyle and I don't really do a lot of apologizing. He knows I'm trying to do my best, I know he's trying to do his best. You'll make mistakes and you'll have oversights. I'm embarrassed about it. I'm not sorry about it. It's not that big of a deal. Nobody died. Nothing caught on fire. You know, it was just one of those things. I've just got to maybe read the whole rulebook in my downtime. Maybe I'll do it on the plane ride home," Stevens said.
Oversights aside, the duo has figured out how to win at Pocono Raceway. They've won two of the last three Monster Energy Series races at the track and swept this past weekend. Stevens discussed their approach to the track.
"You know, for me, we've been here -- gosh, this is our fourth year, I guess. We've been fast, arguably fast enough to win every single time, and that's because we have good cars and good equipment and strong engines, and Kyle knows how to get around this place. His feedback is such that if you give him what he's looking for, you're going to be fast. The reason why you don't win them all is because this is a really difficult place to win with the pit strategy and not losing a lap if you're within the gap, and now the segments, and it's just too easy when you're running fourth or fifth to do the opposite of the leader and put him in a bad spot.
"I expect to come up here and be competitive again next year. I have no idea if we'll be in a spot to win a race for all of those reasons," Stevens explained.
Every driver expects to be competitive, but the No. 18 team has figured out how to turn their competitive edge into multiple wins. The victory at Pocono moved the younger Busch to 13th on the all-time wins list, which ties him with Tony Stewart, and puts him a great position to remain competitive as the races wind down closer to the playoffs.
  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... as long as she allows him to obsess over college football every fall.
Right Sides Only: Notes from the Gander Outdoors 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Right Sides Only: Notes from the Gander Outdoors 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, July 30, 2018 Rating: 5