In slang, the term “old school” can refer to anything that is from an earlier era or anything that may be considered old-fashioned. The term is commonly used to suggest a high regard for something that has been shown to have lasting value or quality.
Call him nostalgic, but Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has always seemed to gravitate toward, and respond well with that old-school feel in an age where racing has embraced an engineering-based leadership.
So, when the Haas Automation team arrives at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, it will have a different, yet familiar look thanks to a crew swap between the teams of Busch and Danica Patrick that will go into effect this weekend in preparation for the 2015 season.
Busch, spotter Rick Carelli, and the No. 41 team’s pit crew are the only remaining members from the Haas Automation team that began the 2014 season. Beginning this weekend, the mechanics, engineers and entire road crew for the No. 41 team will be led by crew chief Tony Gibson, who will take the seat atop the Haas Automation pit box.
For Gibson, leading a race team isn’t just about making the right calls during any given race. Instead, the Daytona Beach, Florida native takes a hands-on approach with his racecar at the SHR shop, and it extends all the way to the racetrack – something many consider to be old school. He oversees every aspect of the development of the team’s fleet of racecars. He takes great pride in working with his cars, from bare chassis, to hanging the car’s body, to painting and decaling the car, to setting up the car for each track. Gibson wants to be there with his racecars each and every step of the way.
Gibson came to SHR in 2009 from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., to serve as Ryan Newman’s crew chief of the No. 39 Chevrolet. Many of the crewmembers who worked with him came to SHR, as well. As such, Busch gets a close-knit crew that believes in the old-school mentality that has been a key to the group’s success.
A look at Busch’s career shows that he’s seemed to thrive when he’s paired with a crew chief who shares that same, old-school mentality that Gibson has. Busch has been quick to compare Gibson to Jimmy Fennig, with whom he’s won 14 Sprint Cup races and the 2004 championship.
While the team may look different this weekend, the goal remains the same. Even though he’s no longer in contention to win the Sprint Cup championship this year, Busch wants to finish the season with as many solid finishes as possible and, ideally, wins. Beyond that, as Gibson enters the picture with three races remaining in 2014, Busch and his new-look No. 41 Haas Automation team are working together to get a jump on 2015.