Q&A with No. 99 Crew Chief Bob Osborne CONCORD, N.C. (February 4, 2005) -- As the 2005 NEXTEL Cup season gets under way, Chester, PA native Bob Osborne prepares for his first full season as crew chief for the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford. Osborne...
Q&A with No. 99 Crew Chief Bob Osborne
CONCORD, N.C. (February 4, 2005) -- As the 2005 NEXTEL Cup season gets under way, Chester, PA native Bob Osborne prepares for his first full season as crew chief for the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford. Osborne began his career with Roush in 1998 and has moved his way up the ranks taking over as crew chief of the No. 99 Ford at the first Darlington race in 2004. Since then Osborne has gained a rookie driver in Carl Edwards and the results show the promise that the team of Osborne and Edwards have heading into 2005. Osborne took some time out of his busy schedule to comment on his new position, his new driver, and the 2005 season, here's what he had to say.
There seems to be a shift in the sport making engineers crew chiefs. What are your thoughts on that?
It's a telling tale. It's for sure the direction that everyone will go in down the road. Either having extremely technical people with a great ability to analyze data and understanding the engineering side of things, or actual degreed engineers. It doesn't take a degree to necessarily mean you're smart enough to understand everything. There are some people out there that are perfectly capable of doing the job that aren't true degreed engineers.
Talk about Carl Edwards. It's been an interesting road. You started with a veteran driver in Jeff Burton then here comes a rookie but you as well were a rookie having only 18 races under your belt before Carl took over.
It's been interesting. It was quite an experience taking on the crew chief role in itself. It was an advantage for me to have Jeff as the first driver I worked with as a crew chief. With his experience he was able to help make the decisions and it made my job a lot easier. Then Carl came on board and I had the mind set of 'he's a Nextel cup driver, he should know certain things already'. The rookie word is truly what Carl is, he is a rookie and I'm not trying to take anything away from him but there are things that I expect him to know because Jeff knew them but I forget that Jeff had 10-15 years experience driving a car and Carl doesn't. Carl has one year, not even truly a full year. That's been an experience but an enjoyable one.
Does it work to your advantage in some ways that Carl is rookie?
What's easier is the ability to try things that are outside the box. We've tried a lot of different set-up packages in those 14 races last year that we probably would have never thought about trying before that. We tried a lot of set-ups that a lot of teams at Roush hadn't dared to go that far yet. We tried them in testing and in certain situations we opted not to race them and in others we did, but there were a lot of situations that we went first when it came to race packages.
Talk about the second Atlanta race. It was your most successful race to date as crew chief and Carl's most successful race as a driver. The No. 99 team qualified fourth, finished third, ran in the top-five most of the day and Carl lead his first laps as a NEXTEL Cup driver. How was that for you?
It was, 'wow we could do it'. You can have the greatest crew chief in the world but if you don't have the driver and crew to go along with it you are going no where and vice a versa. It was nice and comfortable for me to have a good qualifying car and have a car that stayed in the top-five for the entire race. There wasn't a worry that whole race for me that we were going to fall out of the top five, even when the scoring glitch happened and we went four laps down I wasn't worried. It's a different feeling when you qualify well and your communication with the driver is going in the direction that you know you are not going to have to worry.
Heading into 2005, its your first full-season as a crew chief, you have a new driver, a new pit crew, what are your goals and what are looking to get out of the upcoming season?
I don't know if it's optimistic or not, I don't think it's optimistic to say that well be in the top-10 for the chase at the end of the year. I'd like to think that this team, even though there are a lot of new people, is highly capable of that and I will be disappointed if we don't make it. I plan on winning at least one race for sure, if history can give you any direction based on our races at the end of last season, we have quite a bit of momentum coming into the start of this season and I'm pretty comfortable with the fact that I think we are going to win a race and be a competitor at the end of 26 and be in the chase.
How long do you think it will be before Carl Edwards visits victory lane in the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford?
I don't want to predict. I think its going to surprise people though. I think there are a lot of people that are saying, or ignoring the fact, that Carl is in Nextel cup. Everyone's looking at it as this being truly his rookie year and expect nothing to go right and I'm going to do my best that none of that happens and that everything does go right and we do see victory lane.
How has the sponsorship piece affected you and the team from your perspective? You've gone from no primary to four. What does this do for the team?
It was a lot of pressure last year because there were so many ups and downs and so many bubbles that burst. That was a stressful few races for us. Its hard not having a sponsor, then thinking you do, then going back to not having one. It makes it difficult and its bad for morale and everyone has a hard time with that. Now that we do have sponsors were going to run the best we can no matter what with or without sponsors. We aren't going to make any excuses for not having a sponsor so the pressure to run better because we have sponsors is not really there. The pressure to run well is always there because we are all competitors on the team and we want to run well whether we have a sponsor or not. We want to win for us and for our sponsors, Scotts, Office Depot, World Financial Group and AAA, as well as our secondary sponsors like Pennzoil and Kraft.
What in your estimate up to this point has been your biggest challenge as a crew chief?
The only thing that I really didn't have any experience with is actually calling a race. To me that is the most stressful thing in my job. I don't have an issue in dealing with personnel because the crew chiefs I've worked for in the past I've often discussed personnel issues with so I had a feeling for that already and managing the engineering program prior to that, I definitely already had personnel experience. Personnel issues are pretty simple for me; I don't want to say it's a simple job in itself but ranking it relative to everything else its simple. Making sure cars are crafted and making sure scheduling is done properly is fairly simple. We have PK (Pierre Kuettel, car chief) helping me a great deal with that. He enjoys doing that part of the job so I let him. The most stressful thing for me is calling the race. I would prefer to not have to do that but its part of my job so I do it.
Is it helpful having four other veteran crew chiefs at Roush to help you?
It's good to know that they are there. I don't lean on them every weekend. I do occasionally go up and ask their opinion on certain topics here and there but it is good to know that they are there when I do have a question and I'm not sure about something. I can go to any of them and know that I'll get a straight answer and that they are willing to help.
Lastly, what's something about Bob Osborne that no one knows or that people would be surprised to know?
If I told you that then everyone would know and it wouldn't be worth keeping to myself right now. Really, I'm a run of the mill, normal old shmoe. I don't really have anything exciting and secretive.
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Industries that operates nine motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards; three in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth and Edwards, and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Ricky Craven and Todd Kluever.