Right Sides Only: Notes from the Daytona 500 Winning Crew Chief, Jeremy Bullins


Jeremy Bullins may have a sore throat. The crew chief for the Daytona 500 winner, Austin Cindric, spent the last half a lap of Sunday's season opener screaming his head off. 

When asked to talk about what it felt like to be atop the pit box just before his driver took the checkered flag, all Bullins could say was, "This is awesome. That’s about the only way I can describe it."

Bullins spoke briefly about the progress that Cindric has made in the last couple of years.

"Austin has shown the last couple years in the Xfinity Series the amount of talent that he has. And the thing that’s probably surprised me the most, since we knew all this was going on, is how hard he works at it, the time he spends away from the track, the questions he asks, just the effort and the studying that he puts into it to be good at it.

"To his credit, he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do as a team, to try to learn and get better.


"Obviously did a tremendous job today of staying out of trouble, making moves at the right time, putting himself in position, and I don’t think you can express how hard it is to play defense at one of these races when you’re leading, to be able to finish that off," Bullins explained.

Cindric is still a relatively new driver; however, he's accomplished a lot. 

"I don’t know how many Xfinity races he’s won over the last two years, but to win a championship and be 50 feet from winning two in a row, I’d say he’s done okay.


"It was a matter of time before he got this opportunity, and he’s done a really good job and taken advantage of all the — he’s had a lot of opportunities, but he’s taken advantage of all of them.


"And I think that’s the main thing is when he’s gotten these opportunities, he’s put the effort in to take advantage of it," Bullins said.

So, Bullins and his driver just won the biggest race of the year? What's next? Do they try to keep this momentum for the duration the season? Do they set their sights on the playoffs, focusing solely on winning the championship? Bullins has an answer.

"Well, I think we’re both very realistic people. I know that we both know that these speedway races are very unpredictable. Definitely we feel like the road courses are a great opportunity for him to showcase his strengths.


"But I think if you look at the last couple years, he’s gotten really good at mile-and-a-halfs. He runs well at Phoenix, he runs well at so many places.


"I do think the sky’s the limit for him if he continues to work like he has, and I have no reason to think he won’t.


"But we’re realistic, and we know we’ve got a lot of work in front of us with this car and a lot to learn, and we still know what the level of competition is on this side of the garage, and he knows that.


"This is great. It’s awesome to be locked into the playoffs. I’ve never done it this early in the year, so I’m really excited about that. But at the same time we know we’ve got a lot of work to do, and that just means there’s more playoff points available between now and then.


"We’ll just keep working like we always do," Bullins explained.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Over the last six years, Bullins has learned a lot about superspeedway racing such as drafting, pitting, and maintaining track position, from working alongside drivers like Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski. He was able to put those skills into practice during Sunday's race and use them to get his driver to Victory Lane. 

"Well, I would say it’s not just me, it’s my whole team. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with great guys like Ryan and Brad that we learned a lot about drafting and the things that you have to do to be successful and how to pit the races, how to keep track position at the right time and do all the things that we were able to do today.


"You’ve got to survive the day and be there at the end, and we’ve done that a lot. So the odds had to be in our favor at some point. Daytona chose us today, I guess," Bullins said.

Penske may have lost a veteran driver to his duties as a teammate and co-owner of another team, but they didn't lose their core group of crew members behind the scenes and at the track. The knowledge and skills those key players possess were instrumental in helping Cindric and Bullins pull off the win on Sunday.

"I think our guys were up for the challenge. I think you look back at the last few years, we ran — it’s a lot of the core group that we’ve had for years. Grant, my engineer; Kirk, my car chief; Darin, my engine tuner, a lot of these guys, we’ve been together for so long that we felt like, if we stuck together and did what we always do, we could give him [Cindric] the tools that he needs to learn and be successful," Bullins explained.

Cindric definitely used those tools well on Sunday afternoon. Not a bad way to kick off his rookie season, huh?


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 most weekends throughout the season.
This self-admitted grammar nerd loves podcasts, playing with her dogs, and binge-watching programs with her husband.

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Daytona 500 Winning Crew Chief, Jeremy Bullins Right Sides Only: Notes from the Daytona 500 Winning Crew Chief, Jeremy Bullins Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 Rating: 5