Is It the Driver, Crew Chief Or Team: Or Is It All About Team Chemistry

David PhillipsAnalyst IJune 1, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 30:  (L-R) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, talks with Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 U.S Army Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

In today's NASCAR if a driver regardless of who they are or what team they drive for if there not contenting for wins and championship's.

The crew chief is usually first to go, heck maybe even more than one crew chief before the driver goes and a lot depends also if the sponsor likes their driver.

Of course we may see a change like RCR did with Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears switching everything, but the spotters and sponsors.

We've seen a few driver changes, not because the Owner wanted to, but the sponsor demanded it and these days in a tough economy it's all about performance.

Could it be it the team as a whole they're the  problem, not necessarily the driver or crew chief, let's take a look at my point.

Look at the other professional sports, look at all the Coaching changes, some are just poor performance by the coach that gets him fired.

But we have seen a few were the coach takes the team as far as they can, then the Owner makes a change that gets the team over the hump to winning championships.

Just maybe lets call a crew chief as the coach could the same philosophy work in NASCAR. I certainly think it does, look at Xpress Motorsports and Brian Scott.

Your talking about a 21 year old kid, who by the way got his first win Saturday and every recap I seen from the team.

He's always thanking his crew chief Jeff Hensley, his entire team and the organization in general for all their hardwork.

You certainly saw they have great chemistry, from their victory lane celebration and they all are on the same page.

To me that's what makes any team in the three elite series successful, but you certainly can see this in each of the 12 teams in the chase right now.

Ok, points leader Tony Stewart drive's for his Stewart- Haas Racing organization which is a two car team along with his teammate Ryan Newman both are in the top-12 respectfully.

Now let's look at the power house team's like Hendrick Motorsports they have Jeff Gordon in second, Jimmie Johnson in third, Mark Martin in 12th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr sits in 18th.

One bad apple out of four teams, 18th isn't horrible and look at some of the other names having bad seasons.

How bout Roush-Fenway Racing they have Matt Kenseth in eighth, Greg Biffle in ninth, Carl Edwards in 11th, while Jamie McMurry sits 22nd, and David Regan sits 31st.

If they were a three car team they would be one of the most consistent teams but because there a 5 car team there not doing that great at all.

On to Richard Childress Racing they have Jeff Burton as there only shining star this season as he sits in 10th, while Clint Bowyer sits 16th, Casey Mears is 21st in points, and the guy who everyone would call the leader of the team sits in 24th.

Joe Gibbs Racing has Kyle Busch in sixth, Denny Hamlin in seventh, and rookie Joey Logano sits in 23rd. With Cup starting to return to races, he should have so good races down the stretch.

Penske Championship Racing has only one championship contender in Kurt Busch as he sits fourth in points having one of his best years in quite a while.

While teammates Sam Hornish Jr is 26th, and David Stremme is 28th, but all things considered they are showing promise that better days are coming. Since I had Hornish struggling to stay in the top 35 and Stremme didn't think he'd be in the top 35.

Michael Waltrip Racing has David Reutimann sitting in 13th, biting at Martins heels to get in to the Chase. While teammates Marcos Ambrose sits in 20th, he's been a surprise this season and owner Waltrip sits a very disappointing 32nd.

Richard Petty Motorsports started the year, at Daytona getting your attention as to how well they ran team wise at that race.

So far RPM has Kasey Kahne still in chase contention sitting in 14th, while Reed Sorrenson sitting 25th in points, Elliott Sadler sitting 27th, and A.J Allmendinger sits in 30th. 

RPM has lots of room for improvement, but I think with a veteran driver as a leader on the team we'd see a better performance out of the team as a whole.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing - has J.P Montoya in 15th, while teammates Martin Truex Jr sits 19th, and John Andretti who has affiliations with EGR sits 35th. 

Can't forget about Aric Almirola's team has been shut down, but with a sponsors help we'd see them back on track racing.

Now Red Bull Racing Brian Vickers sits in 17th, while rookie Scott Speed sits a very very disappointing 36th and we could see a crew chief change coming.

If we thought any of these teams were struggling, let's just look at Yates Racing. Paul Menard sits 33rd, but with running Nationwide races has started showing some improvement.

Travis Kvapil's team is another victim of the economy, with companies willing to sponsor but wanting a proven driver for a guaranteed return on their investment and with a sponsor they'll be back. 

Now they are affiliated with Hall Of Fame Racing, field the No. 96 car with Bobby Labonte who sits 28th in points, but realistically it's to be expected with the learning curve jumping in a Ford and the resources this team has.

Now in 2010, add the odd man out at Roush to Yates/HOF Racing and we'll see Labonte will have a better year.

Crew chief, Driver, or Team all are important for your team to be successful.

It takes chemistry, getting the right people, look at Stewart-Haas Racing, Smoke hand picked his teams and he really did his homework. 

Now look at Junior, just think how 2009 would have gone, had Mr. Hendrick made the crew chief change over the off season and plugged Darren Grub in as crew chief.

HMS is all about chemistry, finding, hanging on to and always searching for new talent to add to the power house organization.

As a side note, with NASCAR at the halfway point to the Chase, here's my picks for who the 12 drivers will be and my prediction. (Fill free to leave your picks in the comment section or if I'm on the money on them.)

Here's my twelve drivers for 2009, be exciting to see just how accurate I have them.

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Tony Stewart
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Jeff Burton
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. David Reutimann
  11. Mark Martin
  12. J. P. Montoya

I know what your saying I left out Biffle, Kenseth and gave Bowyer no love.

As a side note, I am hoping Vickers gets in, but they've been to up and down as a team this season and I wouldn't put money on them being in the chase.


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