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Here’s what is new in 2018 for Cup teams

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A new year brings many changes. Such is the case for NASCAR teams. Here’s a look at some of the key changes heading into the 2018 season for Cup teams that have announced drivers for this season.

(Drivers are listed in order of their car number with where they finished in the points last year)

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (12th in points in 2017)

What’s new: Chip Ganassi Racing announced Wednesday that Doug Duchardt has been hired to be the organization’s chief operating officer.

What’s the same: McMurray is back for a ninth season with the team in his second stint there. Matt McCall begins his fourth season with McMurray.


No. 2 Brad Keselowski (4th)

What’s new: Discount Tire moves over to be a primary sponsor of Keselowski’s car for 10 races.

What’s the same: Keselowski is back with crew chief Paul Wolfe for an eighth consecutive season.


No. 3 Austin Dillon (11th)

What’s new: He has only one teammate, Ryan Newman, at Richard Childress Racing, with the team cutting back to two cars for 2018.

What’s the same: Crew chief Justin Alexander is back after being paired with Dillon in May 2017.


No. 4 Kevin Harvick (3rd)

What’s new: Wife DeLana delivered the couple’s second child, a daughter in late December.

What’s the same: Crew chief Rodney Childers is back for a fifth season with Harvick. Since they’ve been together, they’ve won one championship, scored 14 victories and captured 13 poles.


No. 6 Trevor Bayne (22nd)

What’s new: AdvoCare is back but with a new paint scheme for this season. 

What’s the same: Matt Puccia is back as Bayne’s crew chief. They’ve been together since the 2016 season.


No. 9 Chase Elliott (5th)

What’s new: A new number for the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

What’s the same: Crew chief Alan Gustafson is back and Elliott, who enters his third Cup season, seeks his first career series win.


No. 10 Aric Almirola (29th)

What’s new: A new ride for Almirola, as he moves from Richard Petty Motorsports to Stewart-Haas Racing. That’s just among the many changes. Almirola also will have a new crew chief. John Klausmeier, who has been an engineer with the organization since 2009 and filled in as in interim crew chief previously, moves into that position for Almirola’s team. And a new look. Smithfield joins Almirola in the move, but its car will be black and white.

What’s the same: Even with the move, Almirola is driving a Ford again. 


No. 11 Denny Hamlin (6th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Crew chief Mike Wheeler is back for his third season with Hamlin. They’ve combined to win five races and three poles the previous two seasons.


No. 12 Ryan Blaney (9th)

What’s new: A new team. Blaney moves from the Wood Brothers to a third entry for Team Penske. He’ll be teammates to Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Team Penske purchased a charter from Roush Fenway Racing for Blaney’s car.

What’s the same: Crew chief Jeremy Bullins joins Blaney in the move from the Wood Brothers to Team Penske.


No. 13 Ty Dillon (24th)

What’s new: Crew chief Matt Borland joins the team from Richard Childress Racing.

What’s the same: Germain Racing remains aligned with Richard Childress Racing.


No. 14 Clint Bowyer (18th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is paired with Bowyer for a second season in a row.


No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (13th)

What’s new: Stenhouse is no longer dating Danica Patrick

What’s the same: Crew chief Brian Pattie and Stenhouse are set to begin their second season together after winning two races and making the playoffs last season.


No. 18 Kyle Busch (2nd)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: This will be the fourth Cup season for crew chief Adam Stevens and Busch. They’ve won 14 races and 11 poles the past three seasons together.


No. 19 Daniel Suarez (20th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Suarez is back with Arris and Stanley as sponsors in 2018.


No. 20 Erik Jones (19th)

What’s new: A new driver in this car that Matt Kenseth had run the past five seasons. Also, crew chief Chris Gayle moves with Jones, the 2017 Cup rookie of the year, from Furniture Row Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2018 campaign.

What’s the same: The car has the same number as last year.


No. 21 Paul Menard (23rd)

What’s new: A new home for Menard, who goes from Richard Childress Racing to the Wood Brothers. Greg Erwin will be the new crew chief, taking over for Jeremy Bullins, who moves from the Wood Brothers to Team Penske with Ryan Blaney.

What’s the same: The Wood Brothers.


No. 22 Joey Logano (17th)

What’s new: Logano’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child in January.

What’s the same: Crew chief Todd Gordon is back for his sixth season with Logano. They’ve combined to win 16 races and 14 poles working together.


No. 24 William Byron (Did not race Cup in 2017)

What’s new: A new driver and new number for what had been the No. 5 team at Hendrick Motorsports. The Xfinity Series champion moves up from JR Motorsports. He’ll have Darian Grubb as his crew chief.

What’s the same: Liberty University, a longtime backer of Byron, is back as a sponsor.


No. 31 Ryan Newman (16th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Caterpillar, which has been a partner with Richard Childress Racing since 2009, will sponsor Newman’s car in select races in 2018.


No. 32 Matt DiBenedetto (32nd)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: DiBenedetto is back with the team for a second consecutive year.


No. 34 Michael McDowell (26th)

What’s new: New ride for McDowell, who moves from Leavine Family Racing to Front Row Motorsports and joins David Ragan at that organization. Front Row Motorsports also has expanded its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing.

What’s the same: Team remains in the Ford camp.


No. 37 Chris Buescher (25th)

What’s new: The team purchased a charter after leasing one last season.

What’s the same: Buescher is back for his second year with the team.


No. 38 David Ragan (30th)

What’s new: He has a new teammate with Michael McDowell joining the team and replacing Landon Cassill.

What’s the same: Ragan is back for his fifth season (in two stints) with Front Row Motorsports.


No. 41 Kurt Busch (14th)

What’s new: Is what’s old. Busch is back with Stewart-Haas Racing as is sponsor Monster Energy after his contract option was not picked up last season amid questions about sponsorship. Busch also has a new crew chief. Billy Scott moves from the No. 10 team to be Busch’s crew chief this season. Scott replaces Tony Gibson, who moves into a position at the shop.

What’s the same: The car number for Busch, who will enter his fifth season at Stewart-Haas Racing. 


No. 42 Kyle Larson (8th)

What’s new: A new sponsor for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver. Credit One will replace Target on the No. 42 Chevrolet in 2018. Also Larson got engaged to girlfriend Katelyn Sweet in December.

What’s the same: Larson will be teamed with crew chief Chad Johnston for a third consecutive year. They’ve combined to win five races and three poles together. 


No. 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. (50th)

What’s new: Wallace joins the team after running four races for Richard Petty Motorsports when Aric Almirola was injured last season. RPM also has switched from Ford to Chevrolet and formed an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and will get its engines from ECR Engines this season. Team also is adding sponsorship with Smithfield putting most of its resources with Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing. 

What’s the same: Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer returns to be Wallace’s crew chief.


No. 47 AJ Allmendinger (27th)

What’s new: No major changes announced.

What’s the same: This will be Allmendinger’s fifth season with JTG Daugherty Racing.


No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (10th)

What’s new: No major changes announced.

What’s the same: He’s back with crew chief Chad Knaus for a 17th consecutive year.


No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (1st)

What’s new: A new moniker for Truex – reigning Cup champion. Also, the team is back to a one-car operation with the shuttering of the No. 77 team.

What’s the same: Champion crew chief Cole Pearn is back to lead this team.


No. 88 Alex Bowman (Did not race Cup in 2017)

What’s new: Bowman takes over the former ride of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports.

What’s the same: Greg Ives is back as the team’s crew chief.


No. 95 Kasey Kahne (15th)

What’s new: Kahne joins Leavine Family Racing, replacing Michael McDowell. Travis Mack, who had been the car chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team at Hendrick Motorsports, makes the move to be Kahne’s crew chief.

What’s the same: The car number for the team.


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Stewart-Haas Racing announces driver-crew chief pairings for 2018

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Stewart-Haas Racing on Friday morning announced its driver-crew chief lineup for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Two driver-crew chief pairings remain the same: Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers on the No. 4 team, as well as Clint Bowyer and Mike Bugarewicz on the No. 14 team.

The changes are related to the No. 41 and No. 10 teams:

* Earlier this week, Kurt Busch re-signed with SHR and will have a new crew chief for 2018, Billy Scott, for the No. 41 Ford.

Busch’s previous crew chief since November 2014, Tony Gibson, is expected to assume a new role within the organization.

Scott, meanwhile, shifts to the No. 41 team as its crew chief after spending the last two seasons as Danica Patrick’s crew chief.

The 2017 winner of the Daytona 500, Busch enters his fifth season with Stewart-Haas. Five of his 29 career Cup wins have been with SHR.

* The newest member of the team, Aric Almirola, replaces Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Ford. Joining Almirola as crew chief will be John Klausmeier, who has been a team engineer with the organization since 2009.

Klausmeier already has a win as a crew chief, serving in an interim capacity in place of Gibson in June 2016 when Busch won at Pocono.

And then there’s the two returning driver-crew chief combinations:

* Childers returns as Harvick’s crew chief for the fifth straight year. Together, the pair has won 14 races, 15 poles and led 6,665 laps. They won the NASCAR Cup championship in 2014 and have been part of the Championship 4 in three of its four-year existence.

* Bugarewicz enters his third year as the crew chief for the No. 14 Ford. He spent 2016 as Tony Stewart’s crew chief, leading the three-time Cup champ to the 49th and final win of his career (Sonoma) before retiring as a Cup driver at the end of that season.

Bugarewicz remained in the same position when Bowyer replaced Stewart in the No. 14 in 2017. Together, the pair had three second-place finishes this past season.

“We wanted to maximize our strengths and address the areas where we needed to improve, and we feel this lineup gives us our best chance to succeed every time we bring our Ford Fusions to the racetrack,” SHR VP of competition Greg Zipadelli said in a media release. “This is a very technical sport, but it’s the people who make it go, and we’ve got some of the best people in the business.”

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Clint Bowyer’s crew chief suspended one race for Martinsville post-race infraction

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Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief for Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Chevrolet owned by Stewart-Haas Racing, has been suspended one Cup race and fined $25,000 for a L1 infraction at Martinsville Speedway.

Bowyer’s car violated Section of the rule book for its TV Video Package simulated weight not meeting NASCAR specifications.

The weight is meant to simulate on-board cameras that are on select cars.

Bowyer’s team was also docked 10 driver and owner points and Bowyer’s third-place finish is encumbered. It was Bowyer’s first top-five finish since Watkins Glen in August.

SHR will not appeal the penalty or suspension. Richard Boswell, crew chief on the team’s No. 41 car in the Xfinity Series, has been named interim crew chief.

NASCAR also fined Daniel Suarez‘ crew chief, Scott Graves, and Ty Dillon‘s crew chief, Robert Barker, $10,000 each for having one unsecured lug nut each on their car.

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Clint Bowyer explains what angered him at Talladega

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Clint Bowyer admits his frustrations got the best of him last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway when he got upset with his team and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz after being collected in a crash.

“Those are frustrating races,’’ Bowyer said Friday at Kansas Speedway of restrictor-plate races at Talladega and Daytona. “It’s extremely nerve-racking. To be dead honest with you, when I’m at home, there’s only two tracks that I’m scared of. There’s only two tracks that in the back of my mind where I think I could lose my life. Those are the only two. When things get out of control, you’ve got to remember that. We’re still out there risking our lives. There’s a lot at stake.’’

Bowyer, whose last win came in Oct. 2012, also added his frustration was related to not having a chance to win.

“You get down to the end of those things, there’s a point, you can feel it as a fan, you can feel it in the car,’’ he said. “There’s a point in those races where you have to be in position, you have to be in  the hunt.

“The one common denominator there is that I knew and felt strongly that going into that race that a Ford was going to win that race. In the back of my mind, there’s a handful of tracks that we can competitively win at and beat these Toyotas right now and that was one of them. Just a lot of things going on there and confusion was definitely one of them, that’s for damn sure.’’

Brad Keselowski won, giving Ford its seventh consecutive restrictor-plate win.

Bowyer unleashed his anger in an expletive-laced rant on the radio after he was involved in a crash that brought out the caution on Lap 157.

“How in the … did we end in the … back. Stupid.’’

Bugarewicz asked: “Did you lose oil pressure or anything?’’

“Front end is knocked off it,’’ Bowyer said.

“We’re going to work on it,’’ Bugarewicz said.

“Maybe we can spend some … more time in the pits,’’ Bowyer yelled.

“We tore up a lot of other … this year,’’ Bugarewicz said.

“I’m not taking this …’’ Bowyer said.

“These guys don’t want to hear either. Let’s work on this,’’ Bugarewicz said.

Bowyer climbed out of his car and had a brief heated conversation with Bugarewicz before walking away.

Asked if he would consider a crew chief change for next year, Bowyer said Friday: “It’s time to start thinking about that. At the end of the day, it’s all about depth in an organization and building an organization. Who knows? There could be a lot of different things that happen in the off-season for Stewart-Haas. You don’t know that. I don’t know that. I think time will tell and paint a lot clearer picture and announcements were made.’’

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Penalties issued to Stewart-Haas, RCR and Kyle Busch Motorsports

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NASCAR issued three penalties Tuesday from this past weekend’s racing action at both New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.

In the Cup Series, Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion driven by Clint Bowyer, was fined $10,000 for a safety violation: a loose lug nut discovered during post-race inspection at New Hampshire following the ISM Connect 300.

In the Xfinity Series, Randall Burnett, crew chief of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven by Ben Kennedy at Kentucky, was issued an L1 penalty for post-race rear body inspection height violation that was outside allowed tolerances.

Burnett was fined $10,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Xfinity race at Dover. In addition, Kennedy was assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while the team was assessed the loss of 10 owner points.

Kennedy’s 11th-place finish was also encumbered.

Finally, in the Camping World Truck Series, Kevin Manion, crew chief of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra driven by Todd Gilliland, was fined $5,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Truck race in Las Vegas.

Manion was assessed an L1 penalty for failure to ensure the rear brake cooling assembly was sealed from the air inlet to the exhaust.

Gilliland’s third-place finish was encumbered and he was also assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while KBM suffered the loss of 10 owner points.