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Kyle Busch’s modus operandi as an owner continues to mirror how he’s scored more than 200 victories in NASCAR’s three national series. By the time he completes one move, he already has the next one in mind.

Busch did it again on Wednesday by announcing a personnel move that seems like a head-scratcher at first for his new crew chief but actually serves those involved perfectly.

Kyle Busch Motorsports lands Brian Pattie as a new crew chief

Brian Pattie, just 47 years old but a crew chief in 715 races across NASCAR’s three national racing series, is joining Kyle Busch Motorsports to lead the No. 51 Chevy in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Busch is running two full-time trucks next season, his first since migrating KBM to Chevy in conjunction with leaving Joe Gibbs Motorsports to drive for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series. He expects to run five races in the No. 51 Chevy, and Jack Wood will drive at least 10. The remainder will go to prospects picked by Busch, likely in collaboration with the manufacturer.

“As a racer, your ultimate goal is to be in a position where you can win races and the opportunity to work with Kyle and the other drivers on the No. 51 truck is one that I just couldn’t turn down,” Pattie said in the KBM statement.

Said Busch: “I’ve known Brian since my early days in NASCAR and he’s one of the smartest and hard-working crew chiefs in all the garage, so to be able to bring a guy of his caliber to KBM is a huge win for our organization.”

Pattie replaces Mardy Lindley, who guided three No. 51 team drivers to a combined six victories over two seasons.

Brian Pattie is leaving Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Cup Series team

Brian Pattie is indisputably overqualified to work as the crew chief for a team in the truck series. He held the full-time role beginning in the Cup Series in 2008 with Juan Pablo Montoya and has since worked with Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., with whom he’s spent the past six seasons.

His Xfinity Series resume includes working as a full-time crew chief for Joe Nemechek and Reed Sorenson, as well as numerous limited runs with part-time drivers and Cup regulars making occasional appearances.

Why would Pattie leave JTG Daugherty and Ricky Stenhouse’s Cup Series car for something two notches down on the NASCAR totem pole?

For starters, the Cup Series schedule is more than 50% longer and affords crews nearly no real time off during the season. The 2023 truck series schedule contains 10 breaks of 10 days or more between races, which means being able to see family and friends more than just when they’re picking you up at the airport.

Secondly, a truck series crew chief is generally more hands-on when it comes to setting up the truck. If Pattie likes to tinker, then it’s a good opportunity to return to his roots.

Next, JTG Daugherty cut back to one car last season. It’s tough to be competitive knowing that Trackhouse Racing and 23XI Racing are outspending you by a huge margin, never mind what the Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing shops can do.

Finally, there’s something to be said for challenges. Kyle Busch Motorsports is rebuilding after migrating from Toyota to Chevy, and next season will probably be a bit painful. But Pattie knows Kyle Busch is in it to win and that there will never be a dull moment in the couple of seasons it will take to contend on a weekly basis.

JTG Daugherty moved quickly to name a replacement

Kyle Busch looks on during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250 at Road America on July 02, 2022, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. | Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Kyle Busch looks on during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Kwik Trip 250 at Road America on July 02, 2022, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. | Sean Gardner/Getty Images

It was only a week ago that Kyle Busch formally announced the expected switch of his truck team to Chevy and introduced his driver lineup. Obviously, the wheels had been turning since the announcement earlier in the fall that he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing.

The decision to hire Brian Pattie from the JTG Daugherty Cup Series team had been made well before Wednesday, again demonstrating Busch thinks several moves ahead. The reason we know as much is because of the speed with which JTG Daugherty announced a replacement. The team said Wednesday former Cup Series crew chief Mike Kelley will handle Ricky Stenhouse’s No. 47 Chevy.

Kelley began working alongside Pattie and Stenhouse in 2020, and he was the driver’s crew chief when Stenhouse won the Xfinity Series championships in 2010-11. He was already Stenhouse’s crew chief once before, in 2014.

Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at [email protected].


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