We released the results from our midseason Driver Survey earlier Friday, and in no question was the gulf between first and second place wider than when we asked 19 NASCAR Cup Series drivers (anonymously) to vote for the best crew chief in the garage.
Rodney Childers, the standard-bearer at Stewart-Haas Racing, received 63% of the vote. Chris Gabehart, crew chief of the No. 11 Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin, was the only other crew chief to receive multiple votes and finished second with 16%.
Childers is one of the most tenured crew chiefs in the garage while Gabehart is one of the newest, especially in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable. But Gabehart has found an undeniable chemistry with Hamlin, bringing a racer’s swagger to atop the pit box as the No. 11 team morphed into a championship contender following a winless 2018.
Much as we expect Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to battle for titles on the track throughout this year (and into the future), we likewise expect their crew chiefs, Gabehart and Childers, respectively, to match wits over that same stretch.
Below is a comparison in key stats since the 2019 Daytona 500, which was Gabehart’s first race as Hamlin’s crew chief — and which produced a victory. Of note: Childers and Gabehart rank 1-2 in each category among every crew chief, with the exception of top-10 finishes (Childers is first, Gabehart is third) and starts.