Race Weekend Central

Truckin Thursdays: Where All of the Crew Chiefs Have Gone

Pairing drivers and crew chiefs is one of the most important personnel decisions that a NASCAR Cup Series team’s leadership will make.

Such has been the case for a long time and will likely continue to be for as long as racing exists. With all the shuffling of crew chiefs that goes on, where does a head wrench-turner go when the music stops and they’re left without a pit box to sit on?

Why, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series of course.

The drivers might be mostly young up-and-comers but the list of crew chiefs wandering the truck garage is an extensive assortment of veteran signal callers.

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Trey Hutchens is a young driver who is only beginning to make a name for himself. However his crew chief (and dad) Bobby Hutchens Jr. made a name for himself long ago.

In 2000, the elder Hutchens was working for Richard Childress Racing and helped develop a new safety harness. After the untimely death of Dale Earnhardt, the spotlight focused squarely on the newly named Hutchens device as well as the HANS device. Both were widely used through the early 2000s until 2005, when the Hutchens device was shelved after subpar test results led NASCAR to prohibit its use.

Doug Randolph might wear the big headset at HRE when Tyler Ankrum gets behind the wheel, but it’s far from being his first gig.

That came way back in 2001 when Dodge made its return to Cup competition. Randolph was tapped to spearhead the No. 93 Bill Davis Racing entry with driver Dave Blaney. Unfortunately, a lack of success led to Randolph’s departure after just one season. Over the next two decades, Doug was paired with NASCAR stalwarts like Sterling Marlin, Bobby Labonte, Scott Riggs and more.

If the name Brian Pattie sounds familiar, it’s likely from his time leading Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer to Cup wins.

Montoya picked a victory at Watkins Glen International in 2010 and Bowyer scored three wins in 2012 and nearly won the championship under the guidance of Pattie. After multiple years at RFK Racing, Pattie made his way to Kyle Busch Motorsports after the 2022 season, where he now oversees plenty of wins by the boss and occasionally works with some of the younger drivers that get a shot with KBM.

So the next time you see a truck crew chief chatting into a headset or explaining a strategy call to a TV pit reporter, take a closer look. In many cases, it will be someone you’ve seen before somewhere else. After all, wherever there’s a pit crew, there’s a need for an experienced chief.

Truckin Tidbits

  • After four races this season, only five drivers have finished on the lead lap in every event. This is the lowest number in Truck history after the first four rounds.
  • The series returns to a longtime staple of its schedule this week at the Texas Motor Speedway. Ford drivers Kenny Irwin Jr. and Tony Raines won the first two truck races at Texas. Greg Biffle added a third win for the blue oval brigade in 2000 and despite at least one race there each year, a Ford F-150 hasn’t won at Texas since.

About the author

Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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