Right Sides Only: Notes from the Auto Club 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

You'd think as the crew chief who helped Kyle Busch score his record 200th win across all series, Adam Stevens would be pleased with his team's performance. Well, Stevens summed up how he felt his team performed in the weekend leading up to the Auto Club 400 this way.

"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," Stevens said.

He went on to talk about the performance of the tires and how they were on the two-mile track.

"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. 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," Stevens explained.

Of course, Stevens finally had to concede that the car was fast.

"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 said.

He was also quick to give credit to the No. 18 pit crew.

"Obviously pit stops have been a huge part of this sport for as long as the sport’s been around. That's not going to change. What makes them so good is practice, hard work, dedication. We have a whole department of people that put their time and talent and energy into that. Optimize it the best we can.
"We have a great mix of guys that really work well together and believe in each other, believe in what we're trying to do as a team. When you're this far off, making as many changes as we have, as we did today, for them to keep their heads down, for the driver to keep his focus, keep his elbows up for as awful as we were, to come out of here with a win is really rewarding," Stevens explained. 

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Stevens also lauded the efforts of Busch himself when asked if there's anything he can't do behind the wheel of a car.

"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.
Lastly, Stevens talked about how Busch's specific skills on-track. 
"Kyle is the best at running the top. At any track we go to where that groove opens up, he's going to be a threat. Doesn't matter if his setup is perfect or if his car is the fastest, he can squeeze that last couple percentage out of it running the high line. You see it, gosh, here, you see it at Homestead, you see it anywhere.
"It's super impressive how close he can enter on the wall and how quickly he can get back to the throttle and have complete control of his car so close to the wall lap after lap.
"I don't think there's ever been anybody that I can recall that's been able to do that. I'm sure it's the dirt track skills and the way he grew up, what he raced growing up. It just speaks to his talent. It's not easy to do. It's super easy to make a mistake. You're really walking a fine line. He can walk it better than anybody," Stevens explained.
Kyle Busch has a ton of fans, and it sounds like his crew chief is chief among them.

  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 Auto Club 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Right Sides Only: Notes from the Auto Club 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, March 18, 2019 Rating: 5