Hoping To Have the Right 'Combo' at Richmond HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 29, 2009) -- In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the relationship between driver and crew chief may be the single most important element for a team to be successful. The ...
Hoping To Have the Right 'Combo' at Richmond
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 29, 2009) -- In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the relationship between driver and crew chief may be the single most important element for a team to be successful. The communication between the guy on top of the pit box on race day and the guy behind the wheel had better be good -- or the results aren't going to be.
Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team and Carl Edwards and Bob Osborne on the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team are two of the most successful duos in the Sprint Cup Series today.
In late 2007, when it was announced that Kyle Busch would join Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and the No. 18 Toyota team, NASCAR observers wondered how Busch would get along with crew chief Steve Addington.
So far, the Busch-Addington "combo" has worked well. It's proven to be one of the top driver-crew chief tandems in the sport as it has found victory lane 10 times since the beginning of the 2008 season. That "combo" will look to add to its victory total this weekend when Busch drives the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry in Saturday night's Crown Royal 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Saturday night's race will also be the first and only appearance with Combos as the primary sponsor of the No. 18 Toyota driven by Busch, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on race day.
The second-year JGR driver will be looking for his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Richmond, but he's no stranger to victory lane at the .75-mile track. He won from the pole in both the May 2004 and September 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series races.
So, the question remains: Will the "combo" of the veteran Addington and the young Busch lead to a new track being added to their list of collaborative wins? It's certainly tough to look past what has become one of the strongest driver-crew chief "combos" in NASCAR.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You seem to have meshed well with crew chief Steve Addington right from the start. What are some of the things you like about Addington's style?
"I think Steve understands how passionate I am and how eager I am to run well and be successful. He's the same way but appears to everyone else as laid-back and doesn't always show it. If I'm the one upset about something, he's the one who understands my frustrations and he'll just keep working on making things better, instead of just getting frustrated with me. It's easy for me to get frustrated behind the wheel, driving these things. But for him to be on my side and understand what I'm feeling and what I need in the racecar has just made it an easy transition for me. He just always seems to be a calming influence, no matter the situation we're in."
What is your approach for Richmond this weekend?
"I'm just hoping we can find some good luck. It seems like we've had a lot of bad luck the last several weeks. We won the only Combos race last year at Dover, so maybe that will bring us some good luck. At Richmond, you try to be easy on the brakes getting in, so you don't lock up getting into the corner or get too loose getting into the corner. It's really particular there. The center (of the corner) always seems to be a little tight with these cars. And the exit, today, has been so loose. Nobody has any forward bite coming up off the corner, so it's pretty bad. That should make for a pretty interesting race. It's a fun short track. It's pretty fast and it usually spreads out, and you'll get a lot of grooves to choose from. You can pretty much count on the usual exciting short track racing when you go there."
How different has the car been each time you've raced at Richmond over the past few years?
"The car is a little different because we've been learning things. The track is a little different because it's been giving up grip. And the tire is different because they brought a different tire here. Everything's always different every time we come back to the racetrack. There's really not much that's the same. Last spring, we sort of unloaded somewhat similar to what JGR had there last year, but we were out to lunch. We really had to change a lot of stuff, and everybody was changing a lot because the tire and track don't match, and it's so loose up off the corner that it's hard to get any forward bite. Everybody was working really hard on trying to fix that. I expect Steve (Addington) and the Combos guys will be pretty busy during both practices on Friday, that's for sure."
How comfortable are you now on flat tracks?
"It's the Cup side that I've had some issues with on the flat tracks. The Nationwide side of it, we are fine. Richmond hasn't given us as much trouble, since it's banked a bit more than Phoenix or New Hampshire. In the past, with Hendrick, I was fine on the flat stuff, too. But, for some reason, it's just with these Gibbs cars I don't have the feel for it. I'm not sure why or what it is. We kind of came here with my own set-up this time around and it seems to be paying off a little bit for us rather than trying a Denny (Hamlin) set-up. Denny always runs well on the flat tracks, but his driving style is so much different than mine, I can't run the same. Denny ran really well at Richmond last year, so I'm hoping we have a car that is as good as his. We tried something different at Phoenix that seemed to fit my driving style better, so hopefully it helps me more at Richmond this weekend and at other places that we struggled at last year."