Yesterday, Joe Gibbs Racing finally revealed its crew chief roster for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It was largely a shuffle, as Darian Grubb and Dave Rogers switched cars while Jason Ratcliff stayed put with Matt Kenseth.
However, there is one newcomer to the four-car fold in Adam Stevens. But while Stevens will be making his Cup debut in 2015, he’s a very familiar face to the driver he’ll be working with: Kyle Busch.
Stevens has collected 31 wins as a crew chief for JGR’s NASCAR XFINITY Series program over the last four years. 19 of them have come over the last two seasons alone from working with Busch; after racking up a staggering 12 wins together in 2013, the duo followed up with seven more this past year.
In an interview today on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Stevens touched on how he and “Rowdy” quickly became a successful pair.
“Kyle and I, we have a little bit of history now of building some communication and some success behind us,” he said. “The cool thing about him and I is we look at race cars the same way, and immediately when we started working together, his feedback and what I’m thinking and how I think race cars work just seemed to mesh really well.
“And in our brief history [together], it’s added up to quite a few wins. We’re hoping to see if we can carry some of that into the Cup Series.”
Stevens will be counted on to help JGR improve on a mixed 2014 season. All three JGR pilots – Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin – made the Chase and Hamlin went on to be part of the Championship 4 at Homestead. However, only Busch and Hamlin could muster a single win apiece partly due to Toyota’s relative lack of power.
If TRD can solve their power issues, that will be one less thing for Stevens to worry about as he adapts to working on Sundays.
He’ll no longer have to game plan around a tire limit like he had to in the XFINITY Series, and with the longer races, he’ll have more pit stops to dial in Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota.
But he figures it still won’t be easier to do his job in the top level of the sport.
“There are certain aspects of the race that will make it a little bit more easier, comparatively,” he said to SiriusXM. “But the [Cup] races as a whole – being so much longer, the track conditions, and the preferred line and handling conditions you’re fighting – tend to change a lot more through the race.
“You’re trading one set of problems – managing your tire sets – for another set of problems, which is managing changing track conditions.”