Uneasy lies the head that wears a ... headset.
Crew chief shifting, swapping and expunging, and the back stories behind them were positively Shakespearean this Sprint Cup season. Several men in the comfortable yet uneasy chairs atop the war wagon were removed for not attaining the ultimate goal, a championship. One was removed despite attaining it. And some simply left on their own for preferred jobs elsewhere. The latter are in the minority.
Crew chief job security continues to dwindle in this reputedly ultra-competitive era -- both on the track and in boardroom negotiations for precious sponsor dollars -- and decisions are made quickly and ruthlessly in a sport where missteps can require years to identify and correct. So scenes such as the one that played out following Tony Stewart's claiming of a third championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while unprecedented, shouldn't seem so stunning. There sat Darian Grubb, surrounded not only by the men with whom he had just won a championship, Tony Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas, but those who had signed off earlier in the fall on his dismissal following the season. The title wouldn't save him, but maybe it would help him land the next gig. It was sublime. It was modern NASCAR.
Here are six other crew chief changes that will impact the 2012 Sprint Cup season: