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New homes: Michael Waltrip Racing employees sprinkled throughout Sprint Cup garage

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The announcement came in August — Michael Waltrip Racing would cease operations after the 2015 season. Suddenly, about 200 employees would be out of work within three months.

They were pit crew members, drivers, crew chiefs and all those people back at the shop a driver thanks after a good day.

Some continue to look for work five months later. Some have gone into other professions. Some found jobs with other teams as the Daytona 500 nears.

Hendrick Motorsports hired 14 former MWR employees. BK Racing added 11 and that number could grow. Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske each hired about 10.

All told, Sprint Cup organizations reported to NASCAR Talk that they had hired more than 80 former MWR employees. Some moves are well-known. Scott Miller moved to NASCAR to become senior vice president of competition. Clint Bowyer is at HScott Motorsports, while David Ragan moved to BK Racing. Billy Scott is Danica Patrick’s crew chief, and Brian Pattie is Greg Biffle’s crew chief.

Other moves are not as well-known. Tim O’Brien went to Hendrick Motorsports to be an engineer on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team. Neal Hood moved to Furniture Row Racing, a team looking to find additional sponsorship to start a second team, to be director of marketing and sales. Blake Haugland will be the rear tire carrier for Matt Kenseth’s team.

Here’s where former Michael Waltrip Racing employees landed in the Sprint Cup garage (not every team identified all the former MWR employees they hired. Teams are listed in alphabetical order):

NASCAR 

  • Scott Miller … executive vice  president of competition at MWR … NASCAR senior vice president of competition.

BK RACING

  • David Ragan driver of the No. 55 car … driver of the No. 23 car.
  • Joel Cox fabricator at MWR … fabricator and pit support at BK Racing.
  • Tim Kean mechanic at MWR … works on suspensions for organization. 
  • Scott King mechanic at MWR … works on suspensions with organization.
  • Kyle Turner pit crew member at MWR … serves on pit crew for BK Racing.
  • Andy Turner pit crew member at MWR … serves on pit crew for BK Racing.
  • Greg Schaefer was at MWR … oversees in assembly shop at BK Racing.
  • Eric Shirley was at MRW … works in finish fab department at BK Racing.
  • Dick Claveloux was at MWR … serves on pit crew and decal department at BK Racing.
  • Greg Carpenter was at MWR … serves as lead body hanger at BK Racing.
  • Kevin White … front suspension on the No. 55 car … mechanic and front suspension.

CHIP GANASSI RACING WITH FELIX SABATES

(Organization has added additional MWR employees)

  • Rob Kauffman … co-owner at MWR … minority owner at Chip Ganassi Racing

FURNITURE ROW RACING

  • Neal Hood … director of business development at MWR … director of marketing and sales for Furniture Row Racing.
  • Rick Wainright … senior director, partner services at MWR … director of sponsor relations for Furniture Row Racing.
  • Lee Cunningham rear tire changer for No. 15 car … rear tire changer for No. 78 car of Martin Truex Jr.
  • Chris Hall front tire carrier on No. 55 car … front tire carrier for No. 78 car.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

  • Tim O’Brien … engineer with No. 55 team … engineer for No. 88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Travis Stock rear mechanic for No. 15 team … mechanic on No. 88 team.
  • Mike O’Malley … worked in shop at MWR … supervisor production in the 48/88 shop.
  • Zachary Yarnot fabricator at MWR … fabricator in the 48/88 shop.
  • David Funderburk … fabricator at MWR … fabricator in the 48/88 shop
  • Greg Campbell … fabricator at MWR … fabricator in the 48/88 shop
  • Nick Steger … fabricator at MWR … fabricator in the 5/24 shop
  • Evan Marchal … development pit crew member at MWR … backup pit crew member in the 5/24 shop
  • Diane Holl … director of vehicle design at MWR … manager of aerodynamics.
  • Kell Kirby … senior design engineer at MWR .. an engineer at HMS.
  • Perry Taylor … software engineer at MWR … an engineer at Hendrick.
  • Grant Fain … quality control engineer at MWR … an engineer at Hendrick.
  • Catalin Popa … structures engineer at MWR … engineer at HMS
  • Kevin Dean … aerodynamics engineer at MWR … engineer at HMS

HSCOTT MOTORSPORTS

  • Clint Bowyer driver of the No. 15 car at MWR … moves to HScott Motorsports for this year and then to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017
  • Brett Griffin … spotter for Clint Bowyer … moves to HScott Motorsports to continue that role.
  • J.D. Frey … front mechanic for No. 15 car at MWR … setup mechanic at HScott Motorsports.
  • James Davis tire specialist for No. 15 car at MWR … same role with No. 15 team at HScott Motorsports.
  • Kristine Curley media relations for Clint Bowyer … same role with HScott Motorsports.

JTG DAUGHERTY

  • Jeff Kerr … gas man for the No. 55 team … gas man for No. 47 team of A.J. Allmendinger
  • Joey McCarthy worked in shop at MWR … works on the set-up plate with JTG Daugherty. 
  • Jeffrey Shano … hauler driver for the No. 15 team … same duties for No. 47 team.
  • Eric Gillon … electronic technician at MWR … similar role with JTG Daugherty

JOE GIBBS RACING

  • Blake Haugland … rear tire carrier on No. 55 car … rear tire carrier for the No. 20 car of Matt Kenseth.
  • Adam Hartman … backup rear tire changer at MWR … rear tire changer for No. 20 car.
  • Jaik Halpainy … shop engineer at MWR … engineer with JGR.
  • Mark Cehon … mechanic at MWR … front suspension mechanic at JGR.
  • Lee Hallman … lead trackside support engineer at MWR … race engineer at JGR.

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING

  • Terry Spaulding … front tire changer for No. 15 car … on developmental pit crew and will work on the No. 95 of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing.
  • Alan Steele … front tire carrier for No. 15 car … same role with RCR’s No. 2 Xfinity Series car.
  • Brian Chase jackman for No. 15 car … same role for the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon.

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS

  • Roy Crump … design engineer at MWR … in engineer role at RPM.
  • Cameron Kirksey … engineer at MWR … oversees quality control at RPM.
  • Craig Noble … aero engineer at MWR … same role at RPM
  • Tyler Hill … design engineer at MWR … same role at RPM
  • Barry Helms … chassis fabrication … same role at RPM
  • Robert Berrier … chassis fabrication … same role at RPM
  • Wes Evans jackman on No. 55 car … same role for No. 43 car of Aric Almirola.
  • David Cropps interior mechanic on 55 team … same role with No. 43 car.

ROUSH FENWAY RACING

  • Dr. Kent Day … specialized in vehicle dynamics at MWR … will serve as manager of simulation at Roush.
  • Vojin Jaksic … was R&D engineer at MWR … is special projects manager at Roush.
  • Brian Pattie … crew chief of the No. 55 team … crew chief for Greg Biffle
  • Billy Curwood … engineer on the No. 55 team … car chief on the No. 16 team of Greg Biffle.
  • Roman Pemberton … spotter on the No. 55 car … spotter for Trevor Bayne on the No. 6 team.
  • Joe Zanolini … rear mechanic on the No. 55 car … front end mechanic for the No. 16 team.

STEWART-HAAS RACING 

(Organization has hired close to 10 former MWR employees)

  • Billy Scott … crew chief for Clint Bowyer at MWR … Danica Patrick’s crew chief
  • Walt Smith … pit coach at MWR … same role at SHR.
  • Dax Gerringer engineer for No. 15 team … same role with No. 4 team of Kevin Harvick.
  • Richard Waldeck … lead mechanic for No. 55 team … front mechanic for SHR.
  • Drew Brown … media relations at MWR … media relations for Tony Stewart.

TEAM PENSKE

(Organization has hired close to 10 former MWR employees)

  • Kevin Chrencik … director of vehicle performance at MWR … vehicle dynamics engineer at Penske.
  • Brandon Pope … engineer on No. 55 team … engineer for No. 2 car of Brad Keselowski.
  • Joe Bisson … engineer at MWR … moves to No. 22 Xfinity car for Team Penske in that role.

TOMMY BALDWIN RACING

  • Chad Walters … engineer  at MWR and an R&D manager … oversees TBR’s engineering efforts.
  • Doug Trader … was at MWR … moves to body building shop at TBR.
  • Brent Patzack … was at MWR … moves to body building shop at TBR.

WOOD BROTHERS

  • Ryan Langley front tire changer on No. 55 car … serves on pit crew for No. 21 team.
  • Shannon Myers rear tire changer on 55 car … serves on pit crew for No. 21 team.

SPIRE SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

  • Ty Norris … executive vice president at MWR … President of Spire Sports + Entertainment.

TOYOTA RACING DEVELOPMENT

  • Bill McDonald … vehicle dynamics engineer at MWR … senior engineer for TRD.
  • Brandon Hartsell … vehicle dynamics engineer … simulation engineer at TRD.

New Hampshire winners and losers

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WINNERS

Kevin HarvickHe no longer has to answer the question of when is he going to win (same for Stewart-Haas Racing). Now the question is if this will lead to a string of wins for the No. 4 team, which has shown speed but not been able to capitalize on it.

Parity — Kevin Harvick marked the seventh different winner in the last seven Cup races, the longest streak of the season.

Ryan Newman First, he was in a backup car and had to start at the rear on a track where passing is difficult. Then, he had a broken coil wire that sapped his engine’s power with about 100 laps to go. His team recovered and he finished seventh for his fifth top 10 in the last six races. Also, he climbed into a playoff spot.

Matt DiBenedetto His fifth-place finish was his third top-10 result in the last five races. Good progress for Leavine Family Racing.

LOSERS

Jimmie JohnsonBack-to-back 30th-place finishes have dropped the seven-time champion out of a playoff spot. He’s never missed NASCAR’s postseason — and is the only driver who can say that he’s been in the Chase/playoffs every year since its inception in 2004. Will that streak continue? Or will it end this year?

Richard Childress Racing — RCR cars finished 37th (Daniel Hemric) and 32nd (Austin Dillon). Hemric’s day ended after contact from Daniel Suarez. Dillon blew a right front tire early and that damaged his car.

Hendrick Motorsports — Alex Bowman’s team went through two cars before Sunday’s race. William Byron had to go to a backup because of an incident in practice. Mechanical issues caused Jimmie Johnson to finish 30th and Chase Elliott to place 29th. Bowman placed 14th and Byron led the way with a 12th-place finish. The best thing about the weekend for Hendrick Motorsports is it is over.

Kyle Larson — Two crashes within the last 100 laps made for a bad day Sunday.

With an inadvertent but legal deke, Erik Jones rallies for third

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LOUDON, N.H. – With critical points hanging in the balance for a playoff bid, Erik Jones thought he screwed up Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Instead, he inadvertently might have stumbled across a new strategy for keeping opponents guessing on pit stops.

During the final caution with 35 laps remaining, Jones swerved to the right back on the racing surface at the last minute, driving over the pit lane commitment box.

Jones began fuming over the team radio, but he eventually was informed there would be no penalty from NASCAR, which changed its rule governing pit entry over the past two seasons. Drivers with four tires below the boundary must enter the pits; Jones had only his left-sides below.

Two tires below once would have committed a car to the pits at tracks such as New Hampshire and shorter, and that caused some confusion on Twitter (NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell clarified the call).

But it raises an interesting point: Should every driver who is committed to staying on track fake a move to the pits by rolling over the commitment box as Jones did?

“I don’t think NASCAR would appreciate that very much, and I’m glad we didn’t get a penalty,” Jones said with a smile. “But it’s definitely an interesting situation. I forgot (what) the rules actually said, and I think many people probably were surprised by that.

“So I think you might see some more faking out. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Crew chief Chris Gayle was sure Jones would escape punishment after he watched the replay and saw the No. 20 Toyota had at least two wheels above the inside boundary.

“I was like, ‘Oh, we’re good,’ because you’ve got to have all four below the box, and he kind of split it,” Gayle said. “I think he didn’t think about it. They say it in the driver’s meeting all the time now, and you’ve got to pay attention, but most everywhere it’s all four below the orange box.”

After restarting in second behind race winner Kevin Harvick, Jones hung on for third behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and punctuated a race in which he overcame contact with two drivers and a speeding penalty.

He started fourth and catapulted into the lead with a two-tire call by Gayle on Lap 48. Jones finished second in the first stage and then made contact with Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet while exiting his pit stall on Lap 111. That necessitated another stop dropping him to 28th as the last car on the lead lap.

“We had contact here on pit road (in the 2017 race), and it ended our day, blew a tire on the restart, so we couldn’t risk that,” Jones said. “We couldn’t have a DNF, so coming down to fix it was the right thing to do. We had to make that right and put ourselves back out there, but it was up and down.”

While battling through the field 20 laps later, Jones made contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who brought out a Lap 138 yellow by hitting the wall with a flat tire from the damage. Jones incurred a speeding penalty entering the pits during the caution.

But he restarted in 11th and steadily marched forward during the second half. He was in fifth when the yellow flew the last time, allowing Gayle to keep his car on track and restart beside Harvick.

“That was the good thing,” Jones said. “The (car) had enough speed to get back up there and get in contention. I think at the end with some clean air, we could be in (Harvick’s) spot, I think we were just as fast as him there the run before, so we have to keep putting ourselves up there, and eventually it’s going to work out, but a good testament to our team, just the way we came back today.”

With six races remaining in the regular season, he is ranked 14th and is 28 points above the cutoff line after entering New Hampshire in 16th with only a two-point cushion. But when other bubble drivers had trouble Sunday, it made Gayle’s strategy decisions simpler.

“It wasn’t as bad today because you start seeing other guys having problems that we were racing in the points,” Gayle said. “So when they all started having trouble, and we’re at the back, I’m like OK, this makes it a little bit easier. We can just do something and go for the win here at the end.”

Jones seems on the verge of a win after finishing third in four of the past nine starts.

With contract talks at JGR progressing well, the only cloud on the horizon might be Stenhouse, who vowed payback against Jones between and the playoffs.

“I guess go ahead,” Jones said when told of Stenhouse’s threat. “He was racing me really hard and for nothing. We were 200 laps to go in the race, and he had the choice of lifting and letting me go, and he didn’t do it for five laps, and that’s just how it is.

“If you’re going to race hard, you’re going to get raced hard. I didn’t want to have to do it, but sometimes it comes down to it. I like Ricky, but he races really hard. I expect it. If I’m going to race Kevin Harvick at the front of the field like that 10 laps in a row, I’m going to get wrecked. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to keep moving forward and keep giving yourself a good day.”

Denny Hamlin laments ‘stupid decision’ on final lap against Kevin Harvick

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In the aftermath of his runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick on Sunday in New Hampshire, Denny Hamlin was left regretting and praying.

He regretted his “stupid decision” on how to race Harvick on the last lap, which resulted in fenders banging and Harvick’s first win of the year.

That had Hamlin hoping a higher power might give him the win another way.

The tech gods could not be persuaded to intervene.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver wishes he had dealt with Harvick’s No. 4 Ford differently once they took the white flag.

He now knows he’d have been better off doing exactly what Harvick did in this race last year when he performed a bump-and-run on Kyle Busch in Turns 1 and 2 in the closing laps and went on to win.

“My decision was after Turn 1 and I got him out of the groove, ‘I don’t want to be the leader here, I’d rather be the guy behind’ and that was a stupid decision because I should have just went in there and carried him up the race track,” Hamlin said. “That’s just not the way I want to do it. We’re two veteran guys, we know how to race these things clean and let’s just figure it out in the end and he got the best of us.”

Hamlin said he has “lot of respect” for Harvick and “I did the best I could to be as clean as I could.”

Hamlin led 113 laps in a backup car after he crashed in practice on Friday.

“I knew we made it really good yesterday in practice, but once it got out front it was phenomenal and better than expected,” Hamlin said, but he lamented the difficulties of racing in dirty air with not getting to Harvick’s bumper sooner. “He never slipped a tire and I couldn’t quite get to him until he made that one little lane choice mistake coming to the white (flag) passing a lapped car and taking the bottom, I knew that was our opportunity to get a huge run and we did.”

Bubble Trouble: New Hampshire tough on those trying to make playoffs

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Sunday was a day of trouble for many of the drivers seeking to make the playoffs, but when it ended, Ryan Newman solidified his spot with a top-10 finish despite mechanical issues.

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson did not share Newman’s luck. Johnson fell out of a playoff spot after mechanical woes left him with a 30th-place finish for the second week in a row.

Here’s a look at what drivers trying to earn a playoff spot endured Sunday:

Ryan Newman — With just under 100 laps left, Newman radioed his crew that he thought his engine had lost a cylinder (it proved to be a broken coil wire) and he was down on power. When the crew told him to stay out, he responded by saying: “I ain’t coming in.”

Newman, who entered the race in the first spot outside a playoff position and in a backup car after crashing Friday, was running 14th at the time of the trouble. It looked as if he would lose several points. Instead, he managed to finish seventh to score his fifth top 10 in the last six races.

“Hell of a job today, guys,” Newman said on the radio to his team after the race. “That’s a never-give-up attitude.”

The recovery helped him climb from 17th in the points to 15th in the standings and in a playoff spot. Newman is 21 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who is in the first spot outside a playoff position.

Jimmie Johnson — A broken water pump and power steering issues sent him to pit road and he lost several laps for repairs. That left Johnson with a 30th-place finish, dropping him out of a playoff spot.

Johnson is 17 points behind Clint Bowyer for the last playoff position with six races left in the regular season.

“Certainly a letdown to say the least,” Johnson told NBCSN.

“Certainly the wrong time of year to have some bad luck. It looked like the guys I’m worried about in the points didn’t have the best of days either. Maybe I got a pass on this one. Just disappointed to say the least.”

Clint Bowyer: A crash on a restart impacted his day and left him with a 20th-place finish that dropped him from 14th in the points to 16th, the final playoff spot.

Bowyer has finished 20th or worse in four of the last six races.

Kyle Larson: Two crashes in the final 85 laps left him with a 33rd-place finish for his second finish of 20th or worse in the last three races. Larson remains 13th in the standings and is 31 points ahead of Johnson.

Erik JonesHe had contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the track and Alex Bowman on pit road. He also had a pit road speeding penalty and thought he was going to be penalized another time on pit road. Through all of that, he managed to finish third for the second week in a row and solidified his spot after entering the day in the last playoff spot.

Jones is 14th in the standings, 28 points ahead of Johnson.