Joe Gibbs Racing announces crew chief changes – Nascar

RELATED: What drivers and crew chiefs are on the move for ’16?

Joe Gibbs Racing announced its driver/crew chief lineup for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Monday, with key changes coming for drivers Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin.

Dave Rogers, most recently Hamlin’s crew chief with the No. 11 JGR Toyota, shifts over to the No. 19 Camry to pair with Edwards. Mike Wheeler, who served last year as crew chief for JGR’s No. 20 team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, replaces Rogers to call the shots for Hamlin next season.

Darian Grubb, crew chief for Edwards’ first season with JGR, is “currently exploring several opportunities” for 2016, according to a release provided by the team.

 

The orginization’s other two Sprint Cup teams keep their pairings intact. Adam Stevens returns as crew chief for the No. 18 Toyota and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch. Jason Ratcliff is back atop the pit box for the wheelman of the No. 20 Toyota Matt Kenseth.

Team owner Joe Gibbs called its 2015 campaign “probably the strongest season we have ever had” after all four drivers qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, but that changes were made to keep the company competitive.

“I think every year you evaluate each of your teams however and sometimes during that process you find that a change might be in the best interest for all involved,” Gibbs said in the team’s news release. “Mike Wheeler is obviously someone that has a long history with Denny (Hamlin) and that No. 11 team. After seeing what he accomplished as a crew chief in our XFINITY Series program last year we felt the timing was right to move him back into our Cup program.

“Dave Rogers has also been successful in every role he has had with us and we think he will work well with Carl (Edwards) going into 2016.”

Wheeler, a longtime lead engineer for Hamlin, embarks on his first full season as a crew chief in NASCAR’s premier series. He served as interim crew chief for six Sprint Cup races in 2014, taking over the No. 11 during Grubb’s suspension for a P5-level penalty.

Wheeler helped spur the JGR No. 20 Toyota to eight Coors Light Pole Awards and four victories in the XFINITY Series last season, achieving three wins with Hamlin and one with Erik Jones.

Rogers, a 15-time winner in Sprint Cup competition, will start 2016 working with his third JGR driver in three seasons. Rogers teamed with Busch from 2010-14 before taking the helm with Hamlin last year.

Grubb joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012 after three seasons and one championship with Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart. Grubb worked primarily with Hamlin in his first three years with the Gibbs organization before shifting to Edwards’ team in 2015.

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