Crew chiefs Mike Bugarewicz and Mike Wheeler join Chase field for the first time

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Welcome to the Chase, Mike Bugarewicz and Mike Wheeler.

While four drivers are making their first appearances in the Chase, Bugarewicz and Wheeler are doing the same as crew chiefs. Both took the reins for their respective teams (Bugarewicz for Tony Stewart, Mike Wheeler for Denny Hamlin) this season. However, they do have past Chase experience in other roles.

In his first full season as a crew chief, Bugarewicz guided three-time champion Stewart to victory lane at Sonoma Raceway. He also worked with Ty Dillon and Brian Vickers to start the year as Stewart missed the first eight races due to a back injury.

Wheeler, who has been a part of Hamlin’s team in the past, led him to three wins in the first 26 races, including last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin is also the defending winner of the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

Here are the crew chiefs for each Chase driver (based on seeding), their past playoff appearances and performances:

Adam Stevens (Kyle Busch) – making second Chase appearance. Both came with Kyle Busch, who he won the championship with in 2015

Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski) – making fifth Chase appearance. Wolfe and Keselowski won the 2012 championship and finished seventh last season.

Mike Wheeler (Denny Hamlin) – making first Chase appearance as a crew chief. Wheeler served as a race engineer on Hamlin’s team from 2012 to 2014.

Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick) – making third Chase appearance. Childers and Harvick won the championship in 2014 and finished second last season.

Dave Rogers (Carl Edwards) – making sixth Chase appearance and first with Edwards. Rogers made a Chase appearance with Denny Hamlin last season (finished ninth) and four others (finished eighth in 2010; 12th in 2011; fourth in 2013; 10th in 2014) with Kyle Busch.

Cole Pearn (Martin Truex Jr.) – making his second Chase appearance. Both have come with Truex, who finished fourth in the Chase last year.

Jason Ratcliff (Matt Kenseth) – making his fourth Chase appearance. All have come with Kenseth, with their best Chase finish being the runner-up in 2013. Last year, Kenseth and Ratcliff finished 15th.

Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson) – making his 13th Chase appearance, having qualified for the Chase every year since its inception. All have come with Johnson. The two won five championships between 2006-2010 as well as 2013. Last year, Johnson and Knaus finished 10th.

Todd Gordon (Joey Logano) – making fourth Chase appearance, all with Logano. Their best Chase finish was fourth in 2014. Last year, Gordon and Logano finished sixth.

Chad Johnston (Kyle Larson) – making second Chase appearance and first with Larson. Johnston served as Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief in 2012 at Michael Waltrip Racing when the two finished 11th. This year is Larson’s first appearance in the Chase.

Mike Bugarewicz (Tony Stewart) – making first Chase appearance as a crew chief. Bugarewicz won the 2014 championship as a race engineer on Kevin Harvick’s team.

Tony Gibson (Kurt Busch) – making fourth Chase appearance and second with Busch. Gibson served as the crew chief for Ryan Newman in 2009 when they finished ninth and 10th in 2011. Last year, Gibson and Busch finished eighth.

Bob Osborne (Chris Buescher) – making seventh Chase appearance and first with Buescher. Osborne’s previous Chase appearances came with Carl Edwards with their best finish, a runner-up in 2008. This is Buescher’s first appearance in the Chase.

Alan Gustafson (Chase Elliott) – making ninth Chase appearance and first with Elliott. Gustafson made five appearances with Jeff Gordon (best finish of third in 2015), two with Kyle Busch (best finish of fifth in 2007), and one with Mark Martin (best finish of second in 2009). This is Elliott’s first appearance in the Chase.

Slugger Labbe (Austin Dillon) – making second Chase appearance and first with Dillon. In 2005, Labbe served as the crew chief for Jeremy Mayfield with the two finishing ninth. This is Dillon’s first appearance in the Chase.

Matt McCall (Jamie McMurray) – making second Chase appearance and second with McMurray. Last year, McCall and McMurray finished 13th.

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NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.