Who are the best crew chiefs in NASCAR? Love him or hate him, Chad Knaus comes to mind. Rodney Childers has done great work throughout his career. How about Todd Gordon? Or Cole Pearn? Or Adam Stevens?
Adam Stevens? Who’s that? Just possibly one of the best in the business these days. How many can say they helped their driver to a championship in their rookie season atop the pit box? Adam Stevens can.
Not unlike a lot of pit bosses, Stevens started out a racer. Not unlike a lot of racing figures, the love is handed down. Adam Stevens’ dad was a racer- in dune buggies and late models.
Not unlike a lot of crew chiefs, Adam Stevens became a student of the mechanics of racing. In his case, Stevens studied mechanical engineering at Ohio University. It’s also at this point in his life that he figures out his future is outside the cockpit and not in it.
Once Adam Stevens completed his studies, he landed a gig as a designer at what was then Petty Enterprises. Three years later, the man that hired Stevens turned up at Joe Gibbs Racing when the organization expanded, and he hired away the Portsmouth, Ohio native. What a move! Stevens worked with the 20 team of Tony Stewart as an engineer, no doubt furthering his growth alongside Stewart’s crew chief Greg Zipadelli- one of the tops in the trade.
As Stewart moved on, Adam Stevens then began working with a young Joey Logano. By 2011, was named crew chief for JGR’s 20 car in the Xfinity Series. This gave him opportunity to work with a variety of drivers, including Logano, Denny Hamlin, Michael McDowell, among others.
In 2013, changes at Joe Gibbs Racing paved the way for Stevens to work with Kyle Busch in the Xfinity Series. In two seasons, the pairing proved money as Busch reeled off 19 wins in 52 starts.
Adam Stevens began working with Busch on the Cup level in 2015. Weird start to the season with Busch sustaining a broken leg at Daytona in the Xfinity race. Though there was a catching up to do, the 18 team hit the ground running with a wildly successful summer that paved the way for a championship.
Like many successful drivers, Kyle Busch is not always the easiest to work with, especially when things aren’t going well. When Busch worked with Dave Rogers, their over-the-radio spats weren’t easy to listen to. Somehow, Adam Stevens has managed to make it work.
Say what you will about Busch, but he has always been quick in victory lane to credit Adam Stevens for his role in the win. While Busch is a talented driver, his cars are often quite good, and when they’re not good, they tweak and adjust until it gets good.
While Adam Stevens might not now be a household name, one gets the feeling Stevens will leave his mark on NASCAR history when it’s all said and done. Heck, he’s already done it, and he’s far from finished.