Kyle Busch shocked the NASCAR world when he announced he would be splitting up with longtime crew chief Adam Stevens to work with Ben Beshore in 2021. Some were even wondering if this was the beginning of the end for one of the most polarizing drivers in the sport.
Fortunately for Kyle Busch, he ended up winning a playoff race at Texas late last year, which gave him some momentum heading into the 2021 NASCAR season. It was later announced that the No. 18 Toyota driver would be parting ways with longtime crew chief Adam Stevens and teaming up with Xfinity Series veteran Ben Beshore for 2021.
Why did that happen though? What prompted the change, and why did Kyle Busch ultimately decide to part ways with the crew chief that helped him win two NASCAR Cup Series titles? While one might think it would come down to Adam Stevens wanting to work with young talent, it was Busch who made the decision.
Kyle Busch discussed all this and more during an episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger. He revealed that he approached Stevens about changes he wanted to make during the offseason, but it fell on deaf ears.
The beginning of the end of the Kyle Busch-Adam Stevens partnership
"I asked Adam for a couple of changes to be made over the offseason," Busch said on the show. "He didn't agree with my philosophy on those changes. So he said, ‘You know what, I'm going to go do something different and let you do something different and we'll see what happens.’"
JGR announced the change a few weeks later, which surprised a lot of fans due to their history. Keep in mind that Stevens was the one that led Kyle Busch to a NASCAR Cup Series title in 2015, the same year he broke both feet in a crash at Daytona International Speedway.
The duo would go on to win another Cup championship in 2019, maintaining an average finish of 8.9. It proved how consistent the 35-year-old was throughout the year. It was as if nothing could touch the tandem between Kyle Busch and Adam Stevens.
"I was shocked because I was like, ‘Well, essentially you just told me you quit on me. So, um, OK. See you later,'" Busch said.
"Now, I have to go find somebody else. I flat out told him in the beginning of our conversation, I said, ‘Look, I believe in you. I trust in you. I want you. You're my guy. We've done this already for six years. We've won two championships. Like, there's chemistry here. And we have a working relationship where we understand one another.’ … Adam has been the first guy that on any given weekend, there's always change in the car and how it feels. And that's what I liked about it, and him. And so that's why I didn't want to lose that. But I guess all good things must come to an end."
In the end, NASCAR is a sport of change, and this was as big a change as any. Whether it's Busch or Stevens who nets a championship first remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a storyline to follow as the season goes on. It could even be the driving force in Kyle Busch winning NASCAR championship number three.