If you were surprised that Adam Stevens wasn't going to be Kyle Busch's crew chief in 2021, well, so was Kyle Busch.
Busch said in an upcoming episode of 'In Depth with Graham Bensinger' that he felt that Stevens "essentially" told him that he was quitting on him. Busch said that he wanted Stevens to make some changes going into 2021 and that Stevens wasn't amenable to those ideas.
"I asked Adam for a couple of changes to be made over the offseason," Busch said, according to the show. "And he didn't agree with my philosophy on those changes. So he said, ‘You know what, I'm going to go do something different and let you do something different and we'll see what happens.’"
Busch said that he was very surprised that Stevens had decided to leave his team instead of make the changes he wanted.
"I was shocked because I was like, ‘Well, essentially you just told me you quit on me. So, um, OK. See you later,'" Busch said. "Now, I have to go find somebody else. I flat out told him in the beginning of our conversation, I said, ‘Look, I believe in you. I trust in you. I want you. You're my guy. We've done this already for six years. We've won two championships. Like there's chemistry here. And we have a working relationship where we understand one another.’ … Adam has been the first guy that on any given weekend, there's always change in the car and how it feels. And that's what I liked about it, and him. And so that's why I didn't want to lose that. But I guess all good things must come to an end."
Stevens won 2 titles with Busch
Stevens had been Busch's crew chief since the 2015 season. That season ended with Busch's first Cup Series championship despite leg injuries that caused him to miss the first 10 races of the season.
Stevens was Busch's crew chief again in 2019 when Busch won his second Cup Series title. With Chad Knaus no longer Jimmie Johnson's crew chief and Cole Pearn off running a ski lodge in Canada after stepping down as Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief after the 2019 season, the combination of Busch and Stevens seemed like it was the best in NASCAR entering 2020.
That 2020 season did not go as planned. Busch was eliminated in the third round of the playoffs and didn't win a race until after he was eliminated. That victory came at Texas in the 34th race of the 36-race season.
Busch credited Stevens after that win, a victory that was their 28th together. It seemed clear that Busch wanted to keep him around in 2021. But that clearly didn't materialize.
Ben Beshore is now Busch's crew chief and the two got off to a winning start on Tuesday night in the season-opening Busch Clash exhibition race after Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney collided in the final set of corners.
"When [the crash] started happening, I was hoping they were going to wreck long enough that I could get up in there and get by them, we could win the thing," Busch said Tuesday night. "It's never over till it's over at these types of places, especially when you have those last-corner, last-ditch-effort chicanes like here and the Roval."
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