Being selected to serve as a crew chief for one of NASCAR’s top organizations would no doubt be a dream come true for many aspiring team members. But at the same time, there is immense pressure that comes along with that role. And more, being named as the pit boss for one of the biggest stars in the sport’s history adds even more to the weight of the assignment.
That is the position Ben Beshore has found himself in since being named as the team leader for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Heading up any of the crews for that company would seem a daunting task to many but when the driver of that team is Kyle Busch, the expectations run even higher.
After the first ten races of 2021 with Beshore calling the shots, the driver who had won a total of 57 times in NASCAR Cup Series competition had not yet pulled into victory lane in the sport’s top division. However, that ended on this past Sunday afternoon when Busch crossed the finish line first to capture his 58th career victory the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at the Kansas Speedway.
While the 39-year-old crew chief would like to have compiled more top finishes by this time in the season, he was pleased to have broken into the win column in Kansas.
“I didn’t want to wait until the eleventh or twelfth race, that being our first win,” Beshore explained in his media teleconference following Sunday’s victory. “I would have liked to fire off a little bit better and maybe get one earlier but it didn’t work out. We got one here today and I’m really excited about that and really happy for all the guys on this team that put in a ton of work to get this car as fast as they can, all the preparation back at the body shop, the chassis shop, it’s just a huge deal for all of those guys. It was good to see all the Joe Gibbs cars up there and having speed and I’m happy we were able to come away with the checkered flag.”
The win in Kansas accomplished multiple goals for Beshore. While he had won four NASCAR Xfinity Series races with Busch back in 2019, it was his first win atop a Cup Series pit box, it all but assured his driver a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs, and it helped to relieve the pressure of securing a win with one of the sport’s top stars.
“It’s a big deal to win, it’s a lot of pressure to win,” Beshore admitted to the media. “We’re expected to win and when you’ve got a two-time champion like Kyle Busch, you expect to go out there and run up front in the top-5 every race and be there at the end. The pressure being off for winning and locking ourselves into the playoffs is huge. We can maybe experiment a little bit later in the season or just go for some more raw speed type of stuff. It was huge and it’s a lot of pressure off, to be honest.”
While winning a race certainly achieved a goal, Beshore believes his team still has work to do if it is to consistently run at the front of the field.
“I think at Phoenix and Homestead earlier in the year we weren’t our best, to be honest,” Beshore recalled. “I felt like at Atlanta, Martinsville, and Richmond we had a lot better speed. We did a better job of hitting the balance right off the truck. Without practice, it’s tough. The engineers did a great job once again this week of hitting the balance really well. We had to adjust on it most of the day to kind of keep up with the track conditions, but I felt like we had speed off the truck. We’re not quite there with the 5 car(Kyle Larson) yet but the way the circumstances worked out, it turned out okay.”
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The native of York, PA pointed out that the triumph was both exciting and a relief at the same time.
“A little of both, I’d say 50-50. I’m extremely excited, especially for my team, to be able to come out here and grab a win and lock ourselves in the playoffs but relief at the same time to prove that we can do it, that we have the speed in the cars, and we can go out there and do it. We weren’t as good as the 5 but we were there at the end and Kyle didn’t make any mistakes and had some great restarts and was able to pull it out.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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