ROOKIE STRIPE: Crew Chief vs. Car Chief: Who Does What?

Hendrick Motorsports Crew Chief Chad Knaus
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
by Logan Stewart

The NASCAR team is a fluid, highly complex organization. Like a beehive, the team is always in motion come race time, with designated roles and responsibilities for each individual. And like the bee colony, the high stakes of the game necessitate a hierarchy within the NASCAR team.

Surprisingly perhaps, the team is not led by the driver, at least not when it comes to the nitty gritty of race strategy. Rather, at the helm of the race team are the crew chief and the car chief, whose highly skilled, focused work ultimately can position their star, the driver, for success. This duo is made up of the leaders who guide the team that defends the nest and direct tasks to ensure the survival and success of the colony.

Pretty buzzy jobs, huh?

The crew chief is the boss. As head honcho of the race team, the crew chief is highly knowledgeable, not only about racing in general but about the nuances of each and every track and of the race car itself. The crew chief knows how weather affects performance, determines the car set up, and directs pit strategy and big decisions.

The crew chief makes heart-pounding choices from the pit box in the waning laps of the race -- choices which ultimately affect who wins and who loses. Depending on how the race goes, the crew chief often takes the blame for unsuccessful strategy, or is hailed in Victory Lane alongside the driver for the win.

The crew chief must have excellent communication skills and be able to steer the driver (figuratively) in the right direction. At the same time he or she is overseeing the driver, the crew chief is also keeping the team in line and making sure work is done impeccably, all while under intense pressure. The crew chief also analyzes pit stops, inspects the car and its parts, and keeps data to know what to do next.

What a busy bee he or she must be.

The car chief makes things happen. The car chief ensures that the work gets done, freeing up the crew chief to manage big needs, like strategy and stats analysis. The car chief works closely with the crew chief to determine setups for the car and supervises the pit crew and mechanics in actually carrying out the plans. This role also makes sure that the car is ready to race, leads in preparing it for inspection and is tasked with making sure the car meets all of NASCAR's standards.

The best way to think of the car chief job is as the second in command to the crew chief, but honey ... it’s only for someone who’s capable of being a busy bee most of the time.

Winning on the NASCAR circuit requires teamwork, and a team is only as good as its leaders. And when it comes to the actual plans and strategy they work so hard on? Well, that’s none of your beeswax.

What’s the Difference Between a Crew Chief and Car Chief? Fox Sports

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ROOKIE STRIPE: Crew Chief vs. Car Chief: Who Does What? ROOKIE STRIPE: Crew Chief vs. Car Chief: Who Does What? Reviewed by Logan Stewart on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 Rating: 5

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