By: Ashley McCubbin
It has not been the year that Kyle Busch has envisioned, with a lot of frustrating moments throughout the 2020 campaign. The lack of results became so concerning that some wondered whether Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens would remain together next season.
On Wednesday, everything came together en route to Busch finally picking up the first checkered flag of the year. So what does that mean for the crew chief pairing?
“That we can do it under any situation,” Busch told POPULAR SPEED. “We can do it under pressure situations of racing for a championship and winning the final races at Homestead and bringing home two championships there, we can do it in the Coke 600, we can do it here when we’re knocked out of the playoffs and people would say that we’ve got nothing to race for, but we come out here and we’re able to win.
“There’s all kinds of different circumstances and different opportunities for us, and I’d like to think that we can be successful for a long time.”
It was a race that tasted their relationship with Stevens coaching Busch through the final stage of the event on how much fuel he needed to save to make it versus the competition, considering they began their pit cycle initially 13 laps sooner. The crew chief stuck with it throughout, relaying to his driver the gap between them and their competitors, while telling him when to save and suggesting when to go.
“You can call it coaching. That’s perfectly fine. I mean, that’s what it was,” he commented. “When you’re a guy behind the wheel, you need that constant reminder of being able to lift early, and there’s not a whole lot of saving fuel in this era we’re in right now because there’s so much throttle‑on time that any little bit of throttle lift is two, three tenths. So really being able to find the draft and find other cars and do things‑‑ (spotter) Tony (Hirschman) was a big help to do all those things, to be able to save the fuel that we needed to those final two runs was huge.
“Having Adam there to kind of help that, he’s obviously got some data that he’s looking at that he can see as far as the fuel savings are going. I even came on the radio and asked one time and said, hey, with what I’m doing, am I doing okay, do I need to do more, what does it look like, because I know they’ve got tools. He said, just keep doing what you’re doing, so I was like, all right, well, what I’m doing must be okay, at least, and fortunately it was‑‑ man, it was just enough.”
Now with the monkey off their backs, one has to wonder if Busch can close out the year with another victory possibly this coming weekend at Martinsville Speedway, or the following event at Phoenix Raceway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has visited victory lane at both tracks previously, with eight top-five’s in the last 10 races at Martinsville.
“That’s what we’re going to push for,” he said. “We want to go to Martinsville and run up front, try to win that one, and same thing, go to Phoenix, let’s spoil the championship party and not see the champion have to be the winner.”