Six days until the start of Preseason Thunder 2013 at the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and there are enough changes to get any diehard NASCAR fan confused.
In Friday’s article, I talked about some of the rule changes and changes to teams. In this article, I’ll explain some of the latest crew chief changes, which includes a reuniting one a great driver/crew chief team.
With Matt Kenseth gone and the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series coming over to drive the No.17, Roush-Fenway Racing will definitely have a new look this season. Jimmy Fenning was originally slated to stay on the box for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. but Jack Roush figured it would be best to team him with Carl Edwards and promote Scott Graves to be Stenhouse’s crew chief. With Fenning on the box for Edwards expect a resurgence. Fenning will be the third crew chief for Edwards in a year as Bob Osborne took a leave for medical reasons and his replacement, Chad Norris, stepped down in July. Fenning won the 2004 Sprint Cup title with Kurt Busch and has 36 career victories as a crew chief. He’s worked with nothing but top drivers, including Bobby Allison and Mark Martin, since he started in NASCAR in 1986.
One of my favorite crew chief combinations was Ryan Newman and Matt Borland. They are back together, which makes me so happy. Sure they worked together for the final four races of 2012, but many assumed Stewart-Haas Racing would find Newman another crew chief. From 2002-2005, the combination won 12 races and when the reunited the finished in the top-five in the final two races of the 2012 season. This is one combination I expect big things from in 2013.
Tony Gibson, who was Newman’s previous crew chief, will work with Danica Patrick as she makes her first full year in the Sprint Cup Series.
One person Patrick is familiar with is Luke Lambert. who nearly led Elliott Sadler to a Nationwide Series championship in 2012. Lambert says goodbye to the NNS and reunites with Jeff Burton at Richard Childress Racing. Lambert and Burton worked together for the final 17 races of 2011 when Lambert replaced Todd Berrier as Burton’s crew chief.
Speaking of Todd Berrier, he heads to Furniture Row Racing to work with Kurt Busch. Berrier, like Busch, is a hard-nosed racer—he lives it and breathes it and will tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.
No doubt 2013 is the year of the crew chief.