Alan Gustafson grew up just down the road from the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, which helped instill the racing bug in the youngster at an early age. At age 8, Gustafson began turning wrenches on his childhood friend, Casey Yunick’s go-carts, and moved quickly up through the legends and late model series. Once Gustafson was preparing cars for asphalt another friend noticed and asked for help with his race cars in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Series.
After graduating from Seabreeze High School, Gustafson decided that a college degree was the route to go and enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. During his college career, Gustafson was faced with the decision to finish out his college courses or head to North Carolina to chase his dream of working in motor sports. Gustafson chose the latter.
When Gustafson arrived in North Carolina in 1996, he teamed up with Jimmy Foster to co-own a Goody’s Dash Series team. Gustafson called the shots as crew chief and an engineer and Foster drove. The duo finished six in the standings that season. In 1997, Gustafson competed in a NASCAR series for the first time as a crew chief for Addington Racing in the Camping World Truck Series and the next season made the transition to the Nationwide Series as the team engineer for Diamond Ridge Motorsports. 1999 was the year of Gustafson’s big break, which happened after renting space from Gary DeHart, then a crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports. DeHart saw promise in Gustafson and offered him a chance to work in the chassis shop at Hendrick Motorsports. Gustafson joined the No. 5 team at Hendrick Motorsports in 2000 as a shock specialist and in the following season Terry Labonte drove the No. 5 Chevrolet with Gustafson still on shock duty. Gustafson’s talent and engineering background was recognized in the 2002 season when he was promoted to the lead engineer for the No. 5 team and continued in that position for the following three seasons.
Before the start of the 2005 season, Gustafson was named the Sprint Cup Series crew chief for the No. 5 Chevrolet with rookie driver Kyle Busch at the wheel. Gustafson earned his first victory as a crew chief NASCAR’s top series that season at California Speedway. The 2006 and 2007 seasons marked Gustafson’s first appearances as a crew chief in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – overall best finish of fifth in the 2007 Chase – and driver Busch won at least one Cup race in each of his three years with Gustafson at the helm. After a stint with Casey Mears driving the No. 5 Chevrolet, Gustafson was given the opportunity to work with NASCAR legend Mark Martin, who also happened to be Gustafson’s favorite driver as a child. Gustafson posted the best season of his career in 2009 with five wins and was the only team in contention to unseat Jimmie Johnson from the championship throne during the season finale. Gustafson and Martin combined for five wins, 21 top-five finishes, 32 top-10s, eight pole positions and 953 laps led in their two seasons working together.
At the end of the 2010 season, Gustafson was announced as the crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon, a four-time Cup champion.
At the end of the 2013 season, Gustafson and Gordon have scored 6 wins, 5 poles, 32 top-five finishes, 53 top-10s and an 8th-place average finish in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup while working together.