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Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs Swap Pit Crews, Should They Have Done it?

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Joshua Lipowski

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In the week leading up to the Playoffs, there was a major crew change amongst a Playoff driver. Joe Gibbs Racing elected to switch the pit crews servicing Christopher Bell’s 20 car and Ty Gibbs’ 54 car. It was a move that Adam Stevens, Christopher Bell’s crew chief said, “Everybody recognizes it’s the right thing to do to put us in the best possible position as a company.”

However, it is important to note to start that this is not the first time that Gibbs has done something like this. What went into this change, and does it make sense for Joe Gibbs Racing?

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The Trend of Joe Gibbs Racing and Pit Crews

This is something that Joe Gibbs Racing has done before, and it makes sense why Gibbs would do it given his past career as a football coach. In the NFL, the players who play in big spots in the big games are the ones who perform the best.

On top of that, football is the ultimate team sport, and Gibbs seems to take that philosophy to his race team. Every pit crew member is a part of the collective Joe Gibbs Racing team, and they are not necessarily a part of the individual cars within the race team.

As was mentioned, Gibbs has done this sort of thing before, and he has won Cup Series Championships with Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2019. It has worked, but there have been instances where it has backfired.

In 2017, Kyle Busch swapped pit crews with teammate Daniel Suarez heading into the Playoffs. In the first Playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway, Busch had the dominant car, but a mishap on pit road early in the race put him down a lap relegating Busch to a 5th place finish. However, he would go on to make the Championship 4 that season, so, the move seemed to work out at the end of the season.

Why Make this Switch?

Ty Gibbs’ pit crew has been one of the best crews on pit road all season long, and Christopher Bell’s pit crew has not been as good. This was evidenced in the public eye by the pit crew challenge at North Wilkesboro in May. Gibbs’ 54 crew won, while Bell’s 20 crew finished an abysmal 32nd.

Why would Gibbs want to keep one of his top pit crews on a team that cannot race for a championship? It may rub some people the wrong way because Bell’s crew was the one who got him to the Playoffs, but it’s just the business of sports and motorsports. Everything is about performance, and the best performing pit crews get the chance to be in the Playoffs with the drivers.

That’s the logic of Joe Gibbs Racing, even if that may be a bit cold and insensitive to some. It makes sense in the business context of the company, even if not every race team operates under the philosophy.

To some race teams, the pit crew is synonymous with the car and team, and, therefore, they stick together with the team and driver. Joe Gibbs Racing just does not operate that way, and it is understandable logic as tough as it may be.

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Joshua Lipowski

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