Wallace Loses A Crew Chief

Robin Pemberton, Rusty Wallace’s crew chief since Dec. 1994, has stepped down from that position. Bill Wilburn, a tire changer on the No. 2 car, takes over immediately.

Pemberton decided to quit as Wallace’s crew chief to slow down his travel schedule and spend more time with his family. Pemberton has two sons, Bray (6) and Briggs (2).

“This is definitely as amicable a situation as possible,” Pemberton said. “I’ve been on the road for 22 straight years, and I’m ready for a change. My boys are growing up so fast, and I’m really missing that side of life so much.

“I’m looking forward to staying in the sport but in a position where I’m in the shop most of the time and not a road warrior any more. I’ll always be thankful to everyone involved here at Penske Racing for giving me some of the best years of my career. I may be changing jobs, but the friendships I’ve made here through the years will remain forever.”

Pemberton was expected to remain with the team through December.

Wilburn has been with Penske Racing since 1992.

“Bill Wilburn is a team player who has definitely paid his dues over the years, and we feel that he can be a great crew chief,” Wallace said. “Bill has abundant knowledge of our sport and has gathered plenty of business savvy from running his own sprint-car team the past several years. He has the reputation of being the best tire changer in the business for years now, and he deserves the opportunity to be the crew chief.”

Penske Racing General Manager John Erickson said Wilburn will make a “superb leader.”

“It has long been a Penske tradition to promote from within, and this is definitely an example of that process in motion,” Erickson said.

Wilburn began his Winston Cup career with the Cliff Stewart team in 1982, and Wallace won the Rookie of the Year award in 1984 with Stewart. Wilburn moved to Mike Curb’s team in 1985, and then joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1988.

Wilburn joined Penske part time in 1992 and went full time in September of that year. Wilburn went part time in recent years as he worked as an owner/driver of a World of Outlaws team.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Wilburn said. “I sincerely appreciate the confidence that Roger (Penske), Rusty, Don (Miller), Walt (Czarkecki) and everybody involved has in me and I plan on doing everything possible to make them proud of their choice for crew chief.”

Wilburn will remain as a tire changer on the Penske pit crew.

“We have a great group of total team players with plenty of depth at Penske Racing South,” Wallace said. “Jeff Thousand, who has been with me since my short-track days back in the Midwest, will continue to be the team’s chassis expert. As for the near future, we expect that Bill will remain as one of our over-the-wall members. We could have a few minor changes in our race day lineup before we get to Daytona in February, but we’re committed to maintaining our status as one of the top teams on pit road.”

Pemberton led Wallace to 15 victories in seven seasons, including one in 2001. Pemberton has 23 victories in his crew chief career, which began in 1985 with DiGard Racing and drivers Bobby Allison and Greg Sacks.

Pemberton has also worked for Roush Racing and Sabco Racing.

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