Monday, July 2, 2018

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Overton's 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens
 
If you didn't see the Overton's 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon but only listened to crew chief Adam Stevens after the checkered flag flew, you might not think he sounded much like a member of the winning team.

"We just weren't very good, to put it honest. We missed it all weekend. Short practices and limited sets of tires. We didn't unload very good. Barely made any gains on it through practice. Took a swing at it for the race. Probably made it a little bit better. It just wasn't very good. 

"This tire combination is pretty finicky. The grip level is low, especially with the track conditions and the bumps. He just had his hands full, and we had our hands full," Stevens said.

Of course, the afternoon wasn't a complete wash.

"We kept working on it and made it a little bit better. I think we missed the splitter height a little bit.  Any time we got some clear air on the nose, it was a different racecar.

"Through a couple adjustments late and ratcheting up with some track position on some good pit stops and some good restarts, we kind of showed the speed we had late," Stevens explained.

If you did see the race but decided to take a snack break during the final two laps because it looked like Kyle was going to win, then you were only half right. Busch bumped Larson for the win in what some fans might describe as the best finish during this season. Stevens talked about the bump.

"I don't believe that he dumped us in any way, shape or form. He just gassed it up and used whatever tools he had necessary to try to win the race. 

"If you flipped those roles, would it happen that way? It's quite possible. It seemed just like a hard racing move to me," Stevens said.
Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

The No. 18 team has now won five races this season. That number ties the team with the No. 4 team for most wins in 2018. Which team is more dominant?

"That's a good question. I really feel like it's week-to-week. You have to take each race, all the tracks are so particular, the tire combinations, what you fight, what you work on, how that transfers to another place. But, yeah, they are fast. They were fast all weekend. 

"This tire combination and this racetrack, us unloading so far off, we got to unload better. We have to get it dialed in before we get here if we want to be able to compete consistently with a short schedule like this. We didn't have a lot of time, a lot of tires, limited practice. You have to unload close when you have limited practice time like we had this weekend," Stevens explained.

Stevens talked about whether there's anything his driver can't do.

"Things he can't do? It's all situational. He's a one-in-a-million talent. The sport hasn't seen too many people with his level of talent. To get the chance to race with him, win some races with him is what every little boy dreams about. 

"But to his credit today, it would have been easy to get frustrated and throw in the towel, as hot as it was, as far off as we were. I'm sure he didn't have real high hopes going into the race since we struggled in practice and we struggled in qualifying. 

"Listening to him on the radio today, as focused as he was, as committed as he was to making it better, any time I told him something, he believed it and he got on it. His feedback to make the car better even through all those trials and tribulations were as good as it could have been given how poor our car was," Stevens said.

How poor the car was? It certainly didn't look that way from where most of us were sitting.

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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... as long as she allows him to obsess over college football every fall.
 


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