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Monday, September 10, 2012

Many folks are calling for Kyle Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers to be replaced after Chase miss; I say that's the wrong move

Let's just get the facts out right off the bat.
Yes, it's true, that crew chief Dave Rogers' strategy Saturday night at Richmond did cost Kyle Busch the spots that led to him missing the Chase.
He admits it, Kyle obviously wasn't too happy about it -- though I was glad he didn't publicly blast his team after the race, that showed some definite restraint on his part.

But the whole thing brings about a question that will no doubt be answered this off-season: Should Dave Rogers be replaced as Kyle's crew chief before next season starts?

Let's look at both sides of the issue.

The folks who say he should be let go have some arguments on their side. In addition to Rogers' error at Richmond, Kyle has had a lot of bad runs this year due to cars that just weren't set up properly, and the crew chief is mostly to blame for that.

There have been some other nights that Rogers didn't have a stellar pit strategy, and those calling for his head can point to those occasions. Someone needs to be the scapegoat for Kyle missing the Chase, and it should be Rogers, these folks will argue.

BUT ... hold the phone, because that's not the whole story.
Everyone is going crazy and focusing on this one decision not to pit at Richmond as a reason to fire Rogers, but they're forgetting some things in doing that. First of all, Kyle Busch missed the Chase because he only won one race all year.
Think about that. Kyle Busch had 34 other opportunities this season to just get ONE more win ... If he had two wins going into Richmond, whether he pitted that time or not wouldn't have meant anything.

So really, it's not all on Dave Rogers. Kyle Busch is a tremendously talented driver, who should win more than one race a year. Part of the reason he lost all those races this year was Dave Rogers and the car; but part of it was also Kyle -- who no doubt made many mistakes of his own all year that led to bad runs and non-wins.

Don't forget too, that Dave Rogers has led Kyle to plenty of great runs and wins in past seasons, and there is no reason to immediately break them up. Just look at the lesson of Kevin Harvick: He dropped a longtime crew chief who had given him decent results and moved on, and has had a terrible season with no wins at all so far.

A knee-jerk reaction to dump Rogers would be unwise in my view. The 18 team needs to sit down, have a long time and figure out how to work better together, and with a driver as talented as Kyle they should easily make it into next year's Chase together with several wins under their belt. Breaking them up is a risk I wouldn't take if I were Joe Gibbs.

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