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

by Stacey Owens

Adam Stevens may need a seminar in self-confidence ... or at least learn to cut himself a little slack. He led Kyle Busch to his third win of the season, yet he didn't feel like his work was necessarily up to par.

"Yeah, you know, we've been pretty - what's the word here - close all year. This was probably about the worst car I gave him to go race with this year. This new tire combination, aero package threw off our old setup. We didn't make a lot of headway in practice. We weren't as good as we hoped to be.

"We got some good tracks coming up. Hopefully we can get back on our horse, give him something he can race with a little closer next week," Stevens said.
Yes. The crew chief for the winning driver thinks he and his crew need to do a little better.
What Stevens did consider a no-brainer was leaving Busch in the top spot once he'd taken the lead.
"It took us so long to fire on tires, but beyond that there was a quick caution after our last stop. I think the back six or seven came about 20 laps on tires or something. They had no reason to pit. If we gave them the lead, they were just going to take it. 
"I didn't see us restarting behind those guys and behind the two that were already in front of us, being able to finish any closer to the front than what we already were.
"We were just going to take our chances. I didn't think we would inherit the lead. I thought maybe one of them would come. But they both came. That made it a little bit easier on us," Stevens explained.
What Stevens may lack in self-confidence, he more than makes up for in determination.
"I don't think complacency is in my vocabulary or Kyle's vocabulary or anybody on this team that I've hired. I can tell you that.

"If there's a trophy and a checkered flag, we're working 80 or 90 hours a week, away from our families for three or four days a week. We don't come out here to ride around. We get paid to win.  Coach gives us the equipment to win. We have Kyle Busch driving our car. That's what we intend to do," Stevens said. 

Of course, it helps that he works with a talented driver. With his finish at Martinsville Speedway, Busch became the first driver in 27 years to finish in the top 10 in the first eight races of the season.
"That's pretty cool. In one of the prerace shows interviewing Kyle, I heard them mention that. I thought that was pretty neat. Any time Kyle can scratch his name in the record book, he likes to do that, for sure.
"Just a testament to the preparation and execution of the whole team, and a little bit of luck, too. Anything can go wrong and take you out of a race. We sped on pit road, that could easily have been a last stop instead of mid race or early-race stop. Any one little thing can happen.
"That streak will come to an end, hopefully not next week, but it definitely will at some point," Stevens remarked.
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Though he finished his day with a win, there was some obvious concern at one point that Busch's finish could be far from victorious. Stevens, in his role as crew chief/cheerleader, had to steady his driver.
"He was fine on the radio today. In general, I can probably only think of one or two times that wasn't the case. Like I said, he's no different than the rest of us. We came here to win. Sometimes those circumstances can change that situation.
"That particular circumstance just cost us some track position. Thankfully we didn't take a shot to a wheel or to the axle or something that was going to do some serious damage. I don't think it impacted our day too poorly other than having to go to the back.
"This race, I don't know what it is about this spring race in Bristol, tear a lot of stuff up here. A lot of people make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes you end up with a winner that you didn't expect. I would say today was no different," Stevens explained.
Truthfully, though, any time Kyle Busch is in a race, everyone watching should expect him to win.
  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 Food City 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Right Sides Only: Notes from the Food City 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, April 08, 2019 Rating: 5