Alan Gustafson - bio
- Mar 09, 2007
- 5 Team
CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET
Birthdate: Aug. 5, 1975
Resides: Davidson, N.C.
Hometown: Ormond Beach, Fla.
Family: Wife Shannon; sons John Alan and Austin
Alan Gustafson returns to crew chief the No. 5 GoDaddy.com team in 2010, coming off his most successful season in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
Last year, he and his childhood hero, Mark Martin, teamed up to battle for their first Sprint Cup championship. Together they amassed five wins, 14 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and seven pole positions – all career bests for Gustafson. The duo led the standings for the first three races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, before finishing a career-best second to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
In 2010, Gustafson again will lead Martin and the GoDaddy.com team members on their quest for the Sprint Cup trophy.
Growing up in Ormond Beach, it would have been natural for Gustafson to spend his free time in the sand and sun. But as an 8-year-old, Gustafson picked up the racing bug from his childhood friend, Casey Yunick. Gustafson quickly learned the sport and began turning wrenches on Yunick’s go-karts.
As Gustafson and Yunick grew older, they progressed to legends cars and late model racing on local asphalt tracks like New Smyrna.
Another friend of Gustafson’s began racing road courses in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) series. Gustafson began working on these cars as well, putting in late nights for both of his racing friends.
As graduation neared at Seabreeze High School, Gustafson made a decision to further his education.
Although Gustafson’s knowledge of racing had surpassed that of many of his peers, he opted not to devote his life to the sport after high school. Instead, he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, just a short walk from Daytona International Speedway, to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
While in school, Gustafson continued to help his friends win at tracks in Florida and elsewhere. Between college and hands-on experience, Gustafson continued to prove himself and earned a solid reputation in racing circles.
Gustafson learned invaluable information while attending classes, but in 1996 the world of racing came calling again. He was faced with a difficult decision: complete his college courses or move to North Carolina and chase his dream.
Gustafson chose the latter.
In 1996, Gustafson and long-time friend Jimmy Foster joined forces to co-own a Goody’s Dash Series team. While Foster drove the cars, Gustafson called the shots as crew chief and also performed engineering duties. They immediately found success when they won at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., and finished sixth in the series point standings. Foster was named Rookie of the Year.
In 1997, Gustafson left the team he had helped create when he was named crew chief of Andy Houston’s Late Model Stock Car and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team owned by Addington Racing. While Houston only competed in a handful of truck races, he visited victory lane several times at local late model races.
As Gustafson continued to climb the ladder, he transitioned to team engineer for Diamond Ridge Motorsports for the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series season. Gustafson worked with many drivers and earned a handful of pole positions and race victories. His knowledge and professionalism quickly became apparent to many in the sport.
In 1999, Gustafson once again joined forces with Foster to battle for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Success wasn’t as easy to come by this time around, as the pair qualified for only one race, and finished a disappointing 34th.
Although the season didn’t prove successful in Gustafson’s eyes, it was the year that would change his life.
Welcome to the Big Time
During Gustafson’s second venture with Foster, the duo rented shop space from Gary Dehart, then a crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports. Dehart saw promise in the young man from Ormond Beach and offered him a job in the Hendrick Motorsports chassis shop. Gustafson had found his home in racing.
In February 2000, Gustafson was moved from the chassis shop to the No. 5 Cup Series team as the shock specialist. The team earned three top-five finishes and six top-10s. The following season, Terry Labonte drove the famous No. 5 to one top-five result and three top-10s with Gustafson still working on shocks.
In 2002, Gustafson’s engineering background was recognized, and he became the lead engineer for the No. 5 team. During the following three seasons, Gustafson celebrated the team’s 2003 Southern 500 victory at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and assisted the team in earning one pole position, five top-five finishes and 19 top-10s.
Gustafson learned a great deal along the way and still credits much of his success to Dehart and the late engine builder, Randy Dorton—both co-workers of his at Hendrick Motorsports. In his first four seasons with the team, Gustafson had earned respect as well.
Prior to the 2005 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Gustafson was named crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet team. Although he would have the same team, car number and sponsor, Gustafson gained a new driver in Kyle Busch.
The team instantly clicked, with Busch earning a pole at California Speedway in just their second race together. When they returned to the Fontana, Calif., track in September 2005, the team earned its first career Cup victory with the 20-year-old driver. Gustafson led the team to a 20th-place points finish in his first year as crew chief.
In 2006 and 2007, Gustafson found himself in the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” twice with a best finish of fifth overall in 2007. Busch won at least one Sprint Cup race in each of his three seasons with Gustafson as crew chief.
In 2008, Gustafson worked together with driver Casey Mears to earn one top-five finish and six top-10s.
In his 10th season at Hendrick Motorsports, Gustafson acquired a new driver, his childhood favorite and NASCAR legend Mark Martin. The two wasted no time getting acquainted and earned their first win together at Phoenix International Raceway in April. They went on to win four more and were one of only two teams battling for the championship in the series’ season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gustafson and Martin return to put the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet back in Victory Lane and the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.