Stewart, Stenhouse get new crew chiefs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart got a new crew chief Tuesday as both Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing reorganized their competition departments.
SHR named Chad Johnston the crew chief for Stewart, who is making his second change since Darian Grubb led him to the Sprint Cup title in 2011. Grubb was replaced shortly after the season for Steve Addington, who lasted just two seasons.
Johnston was crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., but was given permission to look for a new job when sponsor Napa Auto Parts told Michael Waltrip Racing it was leaving at the end of the season because of MWR’s attempt to manipulate the race at Richmond to get Truex into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Johnston and Stewart are both Indiana natives and previously worked together in 2004 and 2005 when Johnston was a race engineer at Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and Stewart drove three Truck Series races for the team.
SHR also announced that Greg Zipadelli will be vice president of competition responsible for managing all four Sprint Cup teams. Matt Borland was named vice president of engineering, responsible for overseeing all of the team’s technical initiatives and research and development projects.
Borland will also work closely with new SHR driver Kurt Busch.
Daniel Knost was promoted from race engineer on the No. 39 team to crew chief for the new No. 41 team for Kurt Busch. Knost joined SHR in 2008 when it was Haas-CNC Racing after earning master of science and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Virginia Tech.
“Our greatest asset at Stewart-Haas Racing is our people,” said team co-owner Stewart. “Obviously, there is a lot of change happening for 2014 as we grow to four teams and bring in Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. But with our new management structure and the crew chiefs we have in place, we’re well positioned to handle whatever challenges come our way. Collectively, we have the experience and wherewithal necessary for each of our teams to perform at the highest level possible.”
The team had previously announced that Rodney Childers will be crew chief for Harvick. Tony Gibson will return as Danica Patrick’s crew chief.
At Roush Fenway Racing, the team promoted Mike Kelley to the Sprint Cup Series to reunite him with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Kelly and Stenhouse teamed together to win consecutive Nationwide Series championships in 2011 and 2012.
“It’s really exciting to team back up with Mike,” said Stenhouse, the 2013 Sprint Cup rookie of the year. “Obviously we have a great chemistry and we have had a great deal of success in the past. Scott (Graves) did a great job of guiding us through our rookie season this year and we look forward to continuing that growth next season.”
RFR also named veteran crew chief Chad Norris to lead Trevor Bayne in the Nationwide Series. Scott Graves, who helped lead Stenhouse to the rookie of the year title this season in Cup, will crew chief Chris Buescher, and Seth Barbour will crew chief Ryan Reed.
Jimmy Fennig will remain with Carl Edwards and Matt Puccia will again team with Greg Biffle.
“As with any season we always sit down at the end of the year and evaluate where we are, what we have and what we think are the best options to put our teams in the best position to compete for wins and championships,” said team owner Jack Roush. “In this case, a reorganization that realigns Ricky and Mike, allows Scott to work with Chris, and reunites Chad with Trevor, made the most sense.”