Trent Owens has his first win as a crew chief in the Sprint Cup series, and now the Darlington native is ready to focus on getting more.
Owens led driver Aric Almirola to Victory Lane at Daytona Sunday, giving the No. 43 car its first checkered flag since 1999. It was Almirola’s first win in NASCAR’s top series, it happened on the 30th anniversary of team owner Richard Petty’s final NASCAR win, and it gave Almirola a virtual lock on a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
It’s enough milestones to almost seem overwhelming.
“It really probably hasn’t sunk in for me that I actually got a win as a crew chief in the Cup Series,” Owens said Sunday. “I think now we just try to get some more.”
Owens is guiding Almirola to a successful season in his first year as Cup crew chief. He took over the 43 team prior to the season and has led them to two top-fives, four top-10s and Sunday’s win. They’ve spent time running in the top-15 in most of the season’s races, and Almirola credits Owens with working a little magic in some difficult situations.
“One that sticks out in my mind is Dover,” Almirola said. “We were really miserable. We were absolutely miserable through practice and through qualifying. And Trent made a lot of adjustments to the car for the race, and we went up and ran inside the top-10 most of the day.”
The team’s consistency finally landed them a victory Sunday, and Petty believes it can lead to more success going forward.
“It puts you in a higher speed track, and you know you can do it,” Petty said. “The crew knows they can do it, the drivers know they can do it. And so I think it’s just going to make it that much easier for us to go from here.”
The next step, of course, is more finding more wins. But even beyond that, the team hopes to contend come Chase time. With a virtual guarantee for a spot, they won’t face as much pressure down the stretch, and they can focus on fine-tuning their approach for the postseason.
“Our best thing to do is just try to build momentum going into the Chase and try to have a hot hand going in,” Owens said. “Because that’s really what it’s about – no different than your basketball tournaments and stuff. Whoever gets the hot hand going in gets all the way to the end. That’s what we’ve got to do.”