Right Sides Only: Notes from the TicketGuardian 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

What a difference a week makes! The No. 18 team didn't have the finish they wanted last week, but they more than made up for it with a win at ISM this week.

This was the second time in a month of races that a JGR team found its way to Victory Lane. Crew chiefs always find themselves doing some number-crunching to get their drivers the best possible outcomes, and the majority of the numbers that Adam Stevens crunched in Phoenix concerned fuel consumption.

"You can only gauge your race mile-per-gallon leading into the race based off of practice and past history. The mileage always gets better because the lap times are always slower. You never run long enough in practice to know exactly what that's going to look like.

"The race conditions are always a little different. There's always a small percentage change even above what you anticipate. But you get a handle on that as the race progresses.  Cautions mess it up bad. It's really hard to tell how much fuel the driver saves under caution, so you're trying to account for that. The more caution laps there are, the harder it is to really calculate. The more green laps there are, the easier it is.
"So much is in the driver's hands, how he's using the throttle and the brake.  It's a lot to keep up with through the event," Stevens said. 
Stevens also explained that despite the number of gauges and dials in the cockpit of the race car, there is no gauge that helps with fuel consumption. All Busch knows about his fuel consumption is what he learns from his crew chief throughout a green flag run.

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After figuring out fuel consumption, crew chiefs next have to consider the best way to get their drivers to the front of the field. Track position is often a crucial component in determining whether a driver will win, and at a track like ISM, it can mean a ton. Stevens discussed getting Busch to that all-important first spot on the track.

"I thought it was going to be even harder to pass than what it was. It's never easy to pass. It shouldn't be easy to pass. There were a lot of guys having to pass cars, come up through the field. 

"We had to pass cars on a lot of occasions. With the way the cautions fell, there was a lot of tire strategy. That jumbled the field up. Some of the better cars that took that opportunity to gain some track position were able to hold onto it. It was pretty interesting. 

"There's going to be a lot of data for us to dig into so we can plan how we're going to strategize the next race when we come back," Stevens explained.

Kyle Busch fans are aware of the milestone that he could reach as early as next weekend in California. Busch currently sits at 199 wins across all formats, and each of his crew chiefs would like to be the one who gets him across the finish line to grab that all-important 200th win. Stevens has a plan for keeping Busch out of the Saturday night Xfinity race and be that winning crew chief for the next Cup race.

"Maybe I'll have to take him for some bad sushi or something on Friday night," Stevens laughed.

  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 TicketGuardian 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Right Sides Only: Notes from the TicketGuardian 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, March 11, 2019 Rating: 5