Drivers and crew chiefs swap all the time in NASCAR. It is usually one of the first moves made when a team isn’t preforming up to standards.
Towards the end of the 2020 season, Joe Gibbs Racing announced a crew shakeup that included driver Kyle Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens parting after six seasons and two Cup championships.
The duo won 25 Cup races and the titles in 2015 and 2019 and had 19 wins in the Xfinity series. But Busch went winless for much of 2020 winning only once and was eliminated from the Playoffs early on.
After the season ended, JGR announced that Stevens would be getting crew chief Ben Beshore while Stevens would be moving to the No. 20 team with new driver Christopher Bell for 2021.
“We go through a process at the conclusion of every season that includes evaluating each of our teams,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing at the time. “We believe our crew chief lineup for 2021 will best position each team and driver for success across both series.”
As it turns out the breakup of Busch and Stevens may have gone a bit deeper.
In an interview on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” released Wednesday, Busch reveals what really happened.
“I asked Adam for a couple of changes to be made over the off season,” Busch said. “And he didn’t agree with my philosophy on those changes. So he said, ‘You know what, I’m going to go do something different and let you do something different and we’ll see what happens.’”
Busch he wasn’t expecting that answer.
“I was shocked because I was like, ‘Well, essentially you just told me you quit on me. So, um, OK. See you later. Now I have to go find somebody else…’
“I flat out told him in the beginning of our conversation, I said, ‘Look, I believe in you. I trust in you. I want you. You’re my guy. We’ve done this already for six years. We’ve won two championships. Like there’s chemistry here. And we have a working relationship where we understand one another’ … Adam has been the first guy that on any given weekend, there’s always change in the car and how it feels. And that’s what I liked about it, and him. And so that’s why I didn’t want to lose that. But I guess all good things must come to an end.”
Busch won the Clash on Tuesday night in his first outing with his new crew chief. Beshore said the chemistry between him, and his new driver is going well so far.
“I think it was good,” Beshore said. “I crew-chiefed him in the Xfinity Series in 2019. It hasn’t been that long since we’ve worked together. I spend four years as his race engineer, Xfinity crew chief, for seven races. We’ve had a lot of success together. We kind of know the language we’re both speaking.
“I don’t think it was that big of a deal. I think obviously getting some success early will build some confidence in each other and we’ll be able to move forward from here and keep getting better and better.”
The full interview from “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” will air this weekend. Listings can be found here.