What Does a Crew Chief do in NASCAR? How Can They Make All the Difference?

Published 05/14/2021, 7:43 AM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 18: Crew chief Rodney Childers stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 59th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


In NASCAR, the driver is the one who gets the lion’s share of the glory. However, the driver is just a small piece of the puzzle, and one of the most vital pieces is the crew chief. The crew chief is regarded as one of the most important members because they are the ones who call the shots.

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In essence, crew chiefs are practically the team leaders. But when the race kicks off and the driver’s fate is in his own hands, all that the NASCAR crew chief can do is watch helplessly. In addition to that, he can only hope that the driver and the spotter work seamlessly and get through the race in one piece.

CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 26: Crew chief Rodney Childers stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

It is also worth noting that the crew chief also helps decide the race car set up for the drivers. What this also means is that it also falls on them to make late-race pit strategy decisions. Since most NASCAR races don’t always go according to the plan, other duties include assessing their respective drivers’ on-track performances.

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What other duties does a NASCAR crew chief have?

Crew chiefs also need to think on their feet in the event that the original plan goes wrong. The crew chief also coordinates with the crew and prepares them for any eventuality. In the buildup to the race weekend, the crew chief directs the crew as they help set up the cars.

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TALLADEGA, AL – APRIL 30: Crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, Greg Ives stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 30, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Before long, the cars are loaded up and shipped all over the country. When race weekend finally arrives, the crew chief effectively takes on the role of strategist by analyzing lap times during practice and qualifying. Finally, he/she also acts as a cheerleader and helps motivate the driver.

Crew chiefs work in tandem with the spotters, to keep the driver focused on the track. While the driver is out on track, the crew chief analyses lap times, fuel mileage, pit-stop strategy, and the works. NASCAR crew chiefs must also maintain a healthy relationship with the driver. In the end, it is not surprising to realize how crucial a NASCAR crew chief is to a team.

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Dhruv George

11667 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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