Ranking the 11 Most Intelligent Crew Chiefs in NASCAR Today

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Ranking the 11 Most Intelligent Crew Chiefs in NASCAR Today
Tyler Barrick/Getty Images

There's an old saying in NASCAR that one of the main differences between a good driver and a great driver is his/her crew chief.

Look at some of the greatest drivers in the sport's history, and it's questionable if they would have achieved the success they did in their careers without the guy atop the so-called war wagon.

Richard Petty likely wouldn't have won 200 races and a record-tying seven Cup championships if it wasn't for Dale Inman. Jeff Gordon wouldn't have won three of his four Cup championships if it wasn't for Ray Evernham.

And the late Dale Earnhardt wouldn't have won his seven Cup crowns (tying him with Petty) if it wasn't for the guys who called the shots during those championship seasons: Doug Richert (1980), Kirk Shelmerdine (1986, 1987, 1990 and 1991) and Andy Petree (1993 and 1994).

All drivers do pretty much is drive, but crew chiefs do pretty much everything else. They hire members of the pit crew, formulate pit stop strategy, devise overall game plans going into each race, oversee preparation of the race car and pretty much anything and everything in between.

Crew chiefs have to think outside the box, push the envelope (if they think they can get away with it), try to take advantage of the rule book when necessary and, in short, have to out-think their fellow peers atop the other 42 war wagons on race day.

Boil all that down and it comes down to who is more intelligent than the next guy. That's the difference between a driver being an also-ran or a champion.

Today we look at the top 11 most intelligent and active crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup game. (We originally planned on having 10, but we wound up with a tie for 10th place, thus the need for a top 11.) They not only are mechanical wizards, they have an innate sense of ability, talent and drive that is capped off by having a pretty darn good noggin.

Here's how we rank 'em. Do you agree? Either way, leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

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