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.