Randall Edwards and Tyler Erb make up a winning duo

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Crew chief Randall Edwards with driver Tyler Erb

A race team must have a great chassis and a great engine to be successful. Brakes, shocks, springs and an aerodynamic body also play major roles in helping to determine whether or not a driver and crew will make a trip to victory lane at the end of a given race program. And of course, a talented driver and knowledgeable crew members are essential pieces of a winning combination.

But with all of that in mind, a look through any Dirt Late Model pit area will reveal that numerous teams have all of those things. In essence, everyone has much of the same equipment at they disposal. So arguably, the most important piece of the entire puzzle may very well be the relationship between the driver and the crew chief. After all, it is that relationship that will produce the setup that will separate the eventual winner from the rest of the pack.

Randall Edwards is the crew chief for the Best Performance Motorsports team and driver Tyler Erb. The veteran team leader has had his photo taken in victory lane hundreds of times throughout a stellar career.

Edwards says that the relationship between driver and crew chief cannot be overstated. Keep in mind that not only does the pair work together at the race track but they also spend countless hours in the close quarters of a hauler riding up and down the road together from track to track.

“We’re basically around each other 350 days a year so you have to get along and mesh,” Edwards explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “There’s going to be times when you don’t always get along but that’s the competitive side of both of us. You’ve definitely got to be able to work together and just be together, that’s for sure.”

Obviously, after consulting with the driver, it is the crew chief job to implement the changes to the car that will go into the final setup for all-important qualifying as well as for the feature race itself. Having the experience and know-how to plan for whatever might occur throughout a racing program is important. And more, knowing the preferences of the driver also plays a major role in preparing a car for action. A crew must be able to do both things well if the team is to be successful.

For example, just prior to the Valvoline Iron-Man Late Model Series race at the Ponderosa Speedway this past Friday night, a heavy rain had saturated the racing surface. Understanding how the extra moisture would affect the track was important but also knowing how it might impact his driver’s style was every bit as significant.

“It’s probably both,” Edwards pointed out. “I just know from being here in times past that, that rain didn’t help anything today, so it’s going to be a little rough. Hell, he usually likes a little rough track so I’ve just got to adjust for that. Hopefully, we’ll make the right decisions.”

The Best Performance No. 1 Rocket Chassis would eventually finish sixth in that race after having to pit from second place at the halfway point.

Please consider also reading “Mike Marlar charges to Iron-Man win at Ponderosa

Of course, a setup that might have worked the previous night at another track or even during a previous race at that same track may not work the next time. A good crew chief is one who has learned to adapt to changes in conditions when necessary.

Tyler Erb steering the Randall Edwards-prepared Best Performance Rocket Chassis

So how important is it for the crew chief to understand factors such as weather, track preparation, and the different types of dirt that make up the racing surface?

“It’s huge,” the veteran pit boss declared. “I just went up there and looked at the track and it’s not going to be smooth tonight by no means. That’s a big part of it. I just have to come back and try to adjust for that to where we can go through the holes and stay on all four wheels.”

Erb is known for being a very talented and hard charging wheelman. At the same time, Edwards says the Texas native also brings an element of fun to their driver/crew chief relationship.

“He definitely is,” Edwards replied when asked about Erb being both talented and excitable. “I mean, you do all this work and put all these hours in but you’ve still got to have fun too at the end of the day. He definitely brings that to the table. There’s never a dull moment, for sure.”

All of those elements have come together lately for the Best Performance Motorsports team. Twelve feature wins so far in 2021, including five of their last six prior to this past weekend, have been the result of their combined efforts. Furthermore, one of those recent triumphs at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska came with a $30,000 paycheck.

So why has the No. 1 car been so good, particularly of late?

“We’ve just kind of been working hard at it and trying to get back on our program. We’ve been doing some testing and it seems like it’s been working out for us.”

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