Big Changes At Childress

A few years ago, Richard Childress Racing made a big mid-season crew chief swap, and it worked like a charm.

Now, Childress is trying it again in hopes of getting two of its Winston Cup Series teams headed in the right direction.

On Wednesday, RCR announced that it was switching Gil Martin, formerly the crew chief for the No. 31 Chevy team, with driver Robby Gordon, over to the No. 29 Chevy team, with driver Kevin Harvick. In turn, Kevin Hamlin, formerly Harvick's crew chief, will now be the crew chief for Gordon's No. 31 team.

Following the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway this past Sunday, Harvick sits in 33rd place in the Winston Cup points standings, while Gordon is 29th. The No. 30 Chevy team, with driver Jeff Green, is the best of all of RCR's teams, sitting in 23rd place in the points.

"We're making this move to help the GM Goodwrench Service and Cingular Wireless teams and all of RCR," said team owner Richard Childress. "The results of our performances this season have not been up to expectations. Jeff Green and the America Online team have had the best results so far and are showing a lot of promise for the second half of the year, so we're not going to change what they have been building on.

"But the 29 and 31 teams are down enough in the points right now that it makes the most sense to make some changes between the tweo. Kevin (Hamlin), Gil and all of the guys in the shop haven't forgotten how to build and prepare race cars and Kevin (Harvick) and Robby still know how to win races, so it's just a matter of getting the right people in the right places. We've made changes like this before, and it's worked out, so we're confident that it will again."

In 1998, Hamlin was switched over from the No. 31 team to the then No. 3 Chevy, driven by Dale Earnhardt; while Larry McReynolds made the switch from the No. 3 team to the No. 31 Chevy, then driven by Mike Skinner. Earnhardt's results improved following the move, as did Skinner's on a more moderate basis.

Hamlin has earned seven Winston Cup victories in 273 races as a Winston Cup crew chief - five with Earnhardt and two with Harvick. Martin earned his only Winston Cup victory as a crew chief with Gordon last fall at New Hampshire.

In addition to the crew chief swap, many members of each team will also change places, heading into next weekend's Winston Cup event at Pocono Raceway.

Crew chief swaps within multi-car teams haven't been such a bad idea in the past. In addition to the Hamlin-McReynolds exchange nearly four years ago, Roush Racing made a crew chief change between two of its teams prior to the start of the 2002 season.

Jimmy Fennig went over to the No. 97 team, with driver Kurt Busch, and Ben Leslie switched over from the No. 97 team to the No. 6 team, with driver Mark Martin. Busch has won a race this season and is eighth in the Winston Cup points standings, while Martin is third in the points and is coming off a victory last weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

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