Crew Chief Changes Coming to JGR

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs said Wednesday he'll announce new driver-crew chief pairings for next season within about two weeks. (Photo: Getty Images)

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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Car owner Joe Gibbs said he expects to announce multiple changes to the team’s driver-crew chief lineup within about two weeks.

“We’ve already decided,’’ Gibbs said Wednesday of the moves, “but we need to talk to the sponsors and have quite a few discussions yet with people.’’   

Gibbs said the changes would be for next season.

“We’re kind of crew chief driven here,’’ Gibbs said. “We spent a lot of time talking to all of our crew chiefs and making sure that we had the right lineup. The other key people you have to have involved in that, it always starts with the drivers. The drivers have strong feelings on who they feel like they can match up with.          

“That driver has got to believe in that crew chief, and that crew chief has got to believe in that driver. If you look at that over the years, that’s a very hard thing to keep together. It is complicated.

“I think we’ve talked our way through all that. We’ve had a lot of intense meetings.’’

The moves come with Carl Edwards joining the organization next year in a fourth car. That will require the team to find a crew chief for him.

Kyle Busch has been with crew chief Dave Rogers since 2010 - the longest tenure among JGR’s Sprint Cup teams. They’ve made the Chase four of their five seasons together, placing fourth last year. Frustration has mounted with the team, culminating with a radio exchange last month at Bristol where Rogers told Busch to “park it behind the truck and take your whiny little ass to the bus.’’

Both met afterward, and Gibbs described the conversation then as “one of those things where it heated up.’’

Still, Busch has struggled. He’s finished 35th or worse in six of the last 15 Cup races. He has no wins and four top-10s during that stretch, including a seventh last weekend last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. He enters this weekend at New Hampshire seventh in the points standing.

Hamlin is in his third season with Darian Grubb. They’ve made the Chase twice. Hamlin’s injuries caused him to miss it last year. Grubb returned last week after serving a six-week suspension when NASCAR discovered infractions with Hamlin’s third-place car at Indianapolis. Hamlin is sixth in the points.

Matt Kenseth, 10th in the points, is in his second year with Jason Ratcliff. They’ve made the Chase both years, finishing second last season after winning series-high seven races. Kenseth made the Chase this year despite not winning a race.

               

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