Central York Excessive grad Ben Beshore achieves dream as crew chief for NASCAR star Kyle Busch | Auto Racing

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Mar. 1—Ben Beshore knew where he had to go to achieve his dreams, but he didn’t exactly have a plan for how to get there.

Beshore was just days removed from graduation at Virginia Tech University when he had to explain to his parents that he didn’t intend to use the mechanical engineering degree he had just received in the way they had expected. Instead, he wanted to combine his love of racing and his math skills to pursue a career in NASCAR. That goal required a relocation.

Like a country music singer looking for a record deal in Nashville, Tennessee, the Central York High School graduate had to make a move to Charlotte, North Carolina, where most NASCAR teams are headquartered, to find a job. He made the move despite having no real connections in the industry.

“They pretty much told me: ‘We’ll give it six months and if it doesn’t work out, let’s come up with a Plan B and figure something else out,'” Beshore said. “Luckily it worked out after three or four months and we didn’t have to get to that conversation.”

Nearly 20 years after that bold decision, Beshore has achieved his dream. The kid who grew up racing go-karts on his family farm is now the crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 car driven by Kyle Busch, one of the best-known drivers on the Cup circuit.

His racing start: Beshore and his cousin, RJ, spent their weekends at tracks together. The pair began racing at Hunterstown Speedway in Gettysburg and eventually across Pennsylvania and nationally. At the time, Ben didn’t have any aspirations of making his passion a profession.

“We only ever had one trailer, so we went to the same events,” Ben said. “It was more just having fun with my dad, uncle and cousins. At that point there were no thoughts of being a professional driver.”

His NASCAR dream starts in college: Those thoughts first sprouted in his mind early in his college career. Both of his grandfathers were mechanical engineers and he enjoyed math, so that path seemed a safe choice. While at Virginia Tech, Ben decided to combine his love of cars and his coursework to create a career in NASCAR.

Ben used his senior project to completely rebuild a 400-pound, 75-horsepower car with a team of 25 people for the Formula SAE design competition.

“Any type of option I had, I would pick the one that was more related to vehicle dynamics or cars in general,” Ben said. “I really tried to tailor my curriculum and senior project around getting the most experience in the automotive industry.”

Getting into NASCAR: When Beshore left Virginia Tech in 2004, the timing was perfect. NASCAR was starting to look for engineers to advance the sport and its cars. That didn’t mean finding his first job was easy.

“Just handing out resumes and talking to anyone I could,” Ben said of his first days in North Carolina. “I was pretty light on experience, so somebody would have to take a pretty big gamble but it ended up working out.”

Ben worked for several small-budget teams before he landed a role with Brewco Motorsports. While working at Brewco, the Beshore cousins teamed up on the pit crew, with Ben on a rear tire with RJ up front. RJ Beshore is currently the lead setup mechanic for Joe Gibbs Racing on Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 car.

Joining the Gibbs team: Ben, a former Panthers’ football and baseball player, moved over to Roush Fenway Racing in 2007 as a race engineer. In 2014 he joined Joe Gibbs Racing and became Busch’s race engineer from 2015 to 2018.

He learned a lot in that role, but needed to make a change and after four seasons with the team became a crew chief for a Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series team in 2019.

“I had been a race engineer for 11 years, so I was dying to take that next step, move up and have some new challenges,” Beshore said. “A little bit of added pressure, that’s the fun part to be honest. Being able to call your own races, call your own shots, that’s what I was looking forward to.”

Although Ben was happy to have achieved a part of his dream, the season was a rough one. His team had seven different drivers during the year, while Busch went on to capture the NASCAR Cup Series championship without him.

Getting an unexpected call: So that made the call he received last fall even more unexpected. Ben was fresh off four victories and a Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year season for his driver, Harrison Burton, when he heard from Busch that he and his longtime crew chief, Adam Stevens, were splitting up and he was on the list to replace him.

Ben had filled in for three races in 2017 when Stevens was suspended and Busch finished in the top 10 in each race. Busch also filled in for seven races on Ben’s Xfinity team in 2019, when he won five starts and had car failures while leading the other two races.

Their successful relationship led to Ben being offered his dream job this past fall.

“I feel like he’s got a good knack for the car and does a good job,” said Busch, who is a two-time Cup Series champion. “I’ve enjoyed working with him so far as we learn from each other.”

Increased pressure: Ben understands the move to Busch’s team comes with increased expectations and pressure, but he’s excited for the opportunity. On Sunday, the pair posted their first top-10 finish of the season, taking 10th at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Despite the challenge that change brings, Ben is grateful that his first taste of being a NASCAR Cup crew chief is with a driver and crew he has spent time with in the past.

“It was an ideal situation, with the background I have being Kyle’s engineer for four years and Xfinity crew chief for seven races,” Ben said. “When you come up as a rookie crew chief, you expect to have a driver you don’t know, a team you don’t know and all sorts of unknowns. For me to slide into (a team) with a driver I had experience with and most of my crew members I know or worked with previously, it’s sort of an ideal situation and helps accelerate my learning curve.”

Achieving his dream: Thirty years after he started racing around his family farm with his cousin, Ben has achieved his NASCAR dream. Although he has long-since proven that his decision to move to North Carolina was correct, he isn’t ready to reflect and celebrate just yet. The goal for this season is to get Busch back to holding NASCAR’s top title and prove he belongs at the sport’s pinnacle.

“It’s obviously pretty cool and feels good that you set a target out there and you were able to get there,” Ben said. “Now that I got that job, it’s about performing and not throwing it all away in one year. I don’t feel like I’m relaxing by any means and it’s just the start for sure.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.

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