Chase Crew Chiefs Talk Chances for Sprint Cup Championship


Behind every driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, there is a crew chief. Behind every crew chief is years of turning wrenches and driving race cars – all toward their ultimate fate of becoming part of a championship-winning team.

For this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup – the second installment of NASCAR’s Chase Grid format – there are only four previous champion crew chiefs going for a return to glory. Among the four, only Chad Knaus has won multiple titles (’06 -’10, ’13).

To join, six crew chiefs enter their first career Chase with their new drivers at Chicagoland Speedway.

With the new round of crew chiefs searching for a first Cup crown, they – with the absence of an ill Greg Ives – joined SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to speak their case on why they will survive the three-round format to lift the Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Luke Lambert (Ryan Newman, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)

“We are on the up-and-swing of momentum. We’re a consistent team with consistent strengths at all levels. We’re going to battle for the next 10 weeks in a row and prove we got what it takes.”

Dave Rogers (Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

“I think the Sprint Cup championship is tailored to Denny Hamlin. I think the JGR team is putting out phenomenal race cars right now. I think when it comes to Homestead, I don’t think you want anyone in your car except Denny Hamlin. He is great down there.

“The equipment that these guys at JGR is providing and the motors that TRD is providing is outstanding. I think that combination right there is going to be awful tough to beat.”

Alan Gustafson (Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

“We have to go perform. We got to go do it on the track. Talk is not my favorite thing to do, it’s more about action and that’s what we have to do — it’s the teams that performs the best on the tracks and not the guys who kind of sell it. We’re hoping to be that guy and we’re going to do whatever we can to do that.”

Todd Gordon (Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

“I think execution has been a wonderful word for what we’ve been able to do. Whether it be pit crew, whether it be driver, whether it be mechanics making sure the cars are properly prepared. And the engineers and how much speed we got. Everybody here believes in doing their part and executing their part. I think to this point of the season,  we’ve  been able to do that.

“We’ve had three wins so far. I think when you look at the last 10 races, I think we’ve been very competitive in all of them and not put ourselves in bad positions. I look forward to the team to continue to do what they do and giving us the opportunity to run our way all the way to Homestead.

“I’ve got a closer for a driver.”

“Very few people in any sport that can elevate to that level, that next level when they have to. I believe Joey Logano is one of those people.”

Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet)

“I tell our guys every week before we start the race that I feel like they’re the best in the garage. They work hard. We were here at 6 o’clock yesterday morning and we left at 7:30 [p.m.] last night. When it comes time to go win a championship, there’s nobody that going to fight harder than this team is. We’re ready to go and we got our stuff together. We just gong to go and race hard and do the best job we can.”

Tony Gibson (Kurt Busch, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet)

“Determination and nobody thinks we can. That’s just it.

“We’re so determined right now to get this done no matter what it takes.”

“Hopefully, we’re the guys nobody is thinking about. We’re the ones that are just sitting there running top 10, top 5. In the Chase, the pressure gets on, we’re the ones that shine. That’s the way I want it to come down. I hope that’s the way it works out.”

Adams Stevens (Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

“I think that Joe Gibbs Racing has a lot going for it now. I think that the [No.] 18 team has a tremendous going for it.  We have the tools, support of everybody here at JGR and we’ve proven how quick our cars can be. And how we can approach weekends and dominate weekends.

Individually, on the [No.] 18 team, only one of us has Kyle Busch and that’s us. With his head on straight and he has a good car underneath him, you really cant be beat. It’s on us to make sure that his head does stay on straight and that we give him a good car. We’ll make it happen.”

Matt McCall (Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet)

“I would say the biggest thing is because we’re not expected to. I think that’s why were gong to. I think that the mindset that all our team has is sort of how we got here, sort of been under the radar. We’re had just clean races, not great races. Minimize our mistakes.” 400

Chad Knaus will join driver Jimmie Johnson to battle for a seventh Sprint Cup championship. (NASCAR via Getty Images)

Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

“I really think that were the best team out there. I think Jimmie is the best driver, I think we’ve got the best group, I think we’ve got the best pit crew, I think we’ve got everything we need to go out there and make it happen.

“Jimmie is an absolutely amazing racecar driver. I would put him up against anybody out there and win, lose or draw, I’d pick him the next week no matter what the outcome was. I think he can get it done and with the resources we have at Hendrick Motorsports – I know everybody is pulling in the right direction right now – I think we can do it.”

Darian Grubb (Carl Edwards, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

“We’re just driven. I feel like were the best out there. We’ve got the best put crew, we’ve had really good momentum on our side. We’ve all been there like, Carl’s been there, I’ve been there, the crew’s been there. Obviously, there are some guys who have more championships under their belt. We’ve got no pressure on us. We are a first-year team, we’re putting everything together. We’re where we need to be. We’re gong to keep striving to get better every single day and every minute on the race track.”

Jason Ratcliff (Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

“I feel like, based on my experience, I just feel like you have to be consistent. I don’t think you can go out and luck into a win here and there. I think you have to go out and try and win them all but, at the same time, lets be realistic, you’re probably not going to.

“How are you going to get there? You have to be consistent. You got to get through the first segment and focus on the next one and pick apart each race track and put your best foot forward. I like, from that standpoint, our chances.

“I think our consistency has been as good as anyone.”

“I think we have some pretty good momentum going in but, we have to keep that. As long as we can keep that momentum going, I like our chances over anyone.”

Billy Scott (Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota)

“That heart and that drive. He [Bowyer] puts on that helmet, he’s as determined as anyone to go out there an make the most of it. There’s tracks coming up in every round that we’re certainly capable at winning at. There’s no reason to count ourselves out.”

Cole Pearn (Martin Truex, Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet)

“I believe we’ll just have to be faster than everybody else and make less mistakes and we’ll be there.”

Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford)

“I think we’ve got a great group of guys that we’ve put together that have worked well together over the last few years. I feel like we’ve got what it takes to do it. We’ve shown that in the past and when it comes down to performing under pressure, this team has done as good as anybody has.”

Justin Alexander (Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)

“We’re going to work harder. We’re going to outwork everyone. We’re going to show everyone that we’re here to compete and that we are capable of running up front with all these other guys. It’s possible, it’s been proven last year [to win championship without a race win], but we plan to give it our all and were going to go out there and do what we know how to do and shock the world.”

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About Zach Catanzareti

Zach Catanzareti serves as a Contributing Writer in the NASCAR department for Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@zachracing) for the latest NASCAR updates. A native of Easton, Pennsylvania, he also follows IndyCar and Formula 1.

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