Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

The underrated battle for NASCAR crew chief wins

The New Hampshire race weekend provides another opportunity for drivers to win their way into the playoffs. It also continues an underrated "battle" between crew chiefs.

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Josh Berry at Stewart-Haas Racing, is currently 11th on the all-time list of crew chief wins with 40 trips to victory lane. He is three wins behind Jeff Hammond and Jake Elder.

However, Childers is first among active crew chiefs. He is one win ahead of Alan Gustafson (39 wins), who guides the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team each week. Childers is two wins ahead of Paul Wolfe (38 wins), who guides the No. 22 Team Penske group.

Childers has celebrated these 40 wins with three different drivers. His first two were with David Reutimann in 2009-10. His third win was with Brian Vickers in 2013. The rest of these wins have been with Kevin Harvick, who retired after the 2023 season.

Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Childers and Harvick joined forces in 2014 as they both moved to Stewart-Haas Racing. They quickly gelled, winning five races and the championship. Childers and Harvick reached the Championship 4 three more times between 2015-19, and they won at least eight races in a single season twice between 2018-20.

Childers continues to pursue his first win with Josh Berry, a rookie in the Cup Series. Berry has led laps this season and has delivered top-10 finishes while working with Childers, but he hasn't yet broken through.

Gustafson has spent his crew chief career working with champions and Hall of Famers alike. He won four races with Kyle Busch, five with Mark Martin, and 11 with Jeff Gordon before joining forces with Chase Elliott in 2016.

Gustafson and Elliott did not win in their first two seasons together. They did not actually celebrate their first win until the 22nd race of the 2018 season. However, they went on to win two more races that season while establishing the No. 9 team as a contender.

Gustafson and Elliott have won 19 races together, most recently at Texas Motor Speedway in April. This win put Gustafson only one win behind Childers on the active crew chief wins list.

Unlike Childers and Gustafson, Wolfe has only worked with two drivers on the Cup level. He was with Brad Keselowski from 2011-2019 and then he took over as Joey Logano's crew chief at the start of the 2020 season.

Wolfe has achieved a considerable amount of success with these two drivers. He won three races in his first season with Keselowski and then he won another five in 2012. Wolfe and Keselowski also won the Cup championship in their second season together. This pairing resulted in 29 total Cup wins.

Wolfe and Logano have also achieved success together, though they remain winless this season. They have won nine races together since the start of the 2020 season, and they have reached the Championship 4 twice. Wolfe and Logano also won the Cup championship in 2022.

These crew chiefs will continue the pursuit of wins this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track where all three have success. Childers has four wins at New Hampshire, one with Vickers and three with Harvick. Wolfe has one win at the track with Keselowski and three top-four finishes with Logano.

Gustafson has two wins at New Hampshire with two different drivers. His first win at the 1.058-mile track was with Busch. His second was with Martin. His best finish at New Hampshire with Elliott is second in 2022.