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Mar 02, 2015

By Lindsay Gibbs

There is no relationship in sports quite as important as the one between a NASCAR driver and his or her crew chief. A driver’s chemistry and communication with a crew chief can make or break their season and, therefore, their career. It’s important to be on the same page every step of the way, from the garage to pit road to the race itself. For this list, history was a factor, but a heavy premium was placed on recent results. After all, you’re only as good as your last race.

5. Keselowski and Wolfe
Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe have been working together since 2010. Since then, the pair has done a lot of winning.

In 2010, Wolfe — a former driver — helped guide Keselowski to an XFinity Series championship. Then in 2011, Wolfe joined Keselowski in the Sprint Cup ranks. Since that time, they have 15 Sprint Cup victories, three Chase berths and one championship.

“Part of the reason I was excited about working with Brad was because I had seen him win races in cars that I thought weren’t as good as maybe cars I was putting on the race track at the time,” Wolfe said in 2012, as reported by Joe Menzer of (via Yahoo Sports).

Coming off a six-win season and with its chemistry still fully in tact, it’s likely to be back in Victory Lane often this season as well.

4. Gordon and Gustafson
The Jeff Gordon and Alan Gustafson partnership, founded in 2011, has worked out incredibly well for both men. Gustafson has been given a chance to work with one of the best NASCAR drivers ever, and Gordon has been able to have a late-career resurgence.

Just look at the numbers: In the three years before Gordon and Gustafson teamed up, Gordon only won one race. In the four years since, he’s won 10. The only thing they haven’t done together yet is win a championship, although they did get pretty close last year.

Now that it’s Gordon’s final season, the pair is extra motivated.

“When we succeed it’s going to be sweet, and I so want to do that, because … he deserves to go out on top,” Gustafson said, as reported by Kenny Bruce of

3. Johnson and Knaus
As far as longevity and success, nobody has this duo beat. Chad Knaus is the only crew chief Jimmie Johnson has had in his Sprint Cup career. They’ve been paired together since Johnson’s rookie season in 2002 and have 71 wins and six championships on their resume. That’s just a ridiculous run.

The two are often heard fighting over the radio, and after they struggled a bit last season (by their standards, at least) and finished 11th in the Chase, there were rumors that a change might be coming. But Johnson squashed those rumors quickly, saying that he wanted to work with Knaus until Knaus was ready to move on.

The only reason why Johnson and Knaus aren’t higher on this list is because of their disappointing Chase last season — this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, after all. But underestimate these two at your own peril.

2. Logano and Gordon
Joey Logano was able to re-start his career three years ago when he came to Team Penske at the age of 21 after four disappointing years with Joe Gibbs Racing, and his crew chief Todd Gordon is a big part of that.

Gordon, a veteran who worked as a crew chief for years, immediately clicked with Logano and helped the youngster turn his fortunes around. Together, they have won eight races in the last two years — including this year’s Daytona 500 — and made the Chase twice.

These two are this high on the list because of their recent success — they followed a five-win 2014 campaign and a berth in the final round of the Chase with the win at The Great American Race to start this season. The future looks bright.

1. Harvick and Childers
Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers won the final two races of 2014 and the championship, and they were the runner-ups in the Daytona 500, so they’re certainly the team to beat this year.

It’s hard to believe that last year was the first season Harvick and Childers had worked together. But they hit it off right away.

Jay Pennell of Fox Sports described how instantaneous the success was for this pair: “During the preseason test at Charlotte Motor Speedway in December 2013, the two turned heads with their off-the-truck speed and successful back-and-forth in the garage.”

Last year, with Childers watching over him, Harvick had a career-best five wins, eight poles and led a series-high 2,137 laps.

There’s no reason why 2015 can’t be just as successful.
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