With Monday’s crazy announcements that saw four more crew chief changes in the NASCAR Cup Series, you may be thinking — my there have been a lot of swaps on top of the pit boxes in NASCAR’s premiere series lately.
Your thoughts are correct too.
This week already starts off with Team Penske shuffling literally all three of their driver and crew chief combos. Brad Keselowski will go from Paul Wolfe to Ryan Blaney’s former crew chief in Jeremy Bullins for the 2020 season. Wolfe, then goes to Joey Logano’s car while Todd Gordon, who was Logano’s long time crew chief in the No. 22 Ford, slides over to Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford moving forward.
That’s a big wholesale change, one that Stewart-Haas Racing practically did themselves as well. Last month, they swapped Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer’s crew chiefs, as Almirola gets Mike Bugarewicz while Bowyer inherits Johnny Kausmeier. Then, factor in Daniel Suarez being replaced by Cole Custer and in turn Custer getting Mike Shiplett as his crew chief as Shiplett and you get seven of the arguably top eight Ford’s in the series having big changes within their race teams this offseason.
Also, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Darrell Wallace Jr. will have a crew chief change in him getting Jerry Baxter now instead of Derek Stamets, and you can see where this has been a busy offseason.
But, that’s not all either.
Cole Pearn unexpectedly decided to retire too and will be replaced on top of the pit box by James Small. Overall, when he head to Daytona next month, 15 cars will have a different man in charge on top of their respective pit boxes compared to this time last year.
Furthermore, there’s 10 cars that have different driver as well. That equates overall to 20 of the top 32 teams in the final 2019 NASCAR Cup Series owners points having either a different driver, a different crew chief, or even both heading into Daytona in 2020 compared to 2019.
It’s actually easier to say who didn’t have any big changes compared to who did. Those teams/drivers are — Chase Elliott, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Ty Dillon, Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones.
Now, only two crew chief/driver combinations in the series have won a championship together — Kyle Busch/Adam Stevens and Kevin Harvick/Rodney Childers. In a sport where continuity between the driver and his crew chief mean the most, there’s been a lot of reshuffling this offseason.
I mean, just look at all the greats. Jeff Gordon had Ray Evernham. Richard Petty had Dale Inman. Jimmie Johnson had Chad Knaus. Truex Jr. had Pearn. I can go on and on. Everyone is now chasing that Truex/Pearn, Busch/Stevens and the Harvick/Childers combo. There’s a reason why Truex, Busch and Harvick have dominated under this Championship 4 era in winning four of the six championships and have been to the Championship 4 more than anyone else.