Two Cup playoff teams make pit crew changes for Darlington

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

DARLINGTON, S.C. – The playoff teams of Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones each will have a different pit crew lineup for Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Michael Johnson will be the rear tire changer for Harvick’s team, replacing Daniel Smith this weekend. It will be Johnson’s first weekend with the team, which has won a series-high seven points races and also won the All-Star Race this season. This is the team’s second change with the pit crew this year. Shayne Pipala became the team’s front tire changer at New Hampshire in July.

Erik Jones’ pit crew has two changes this weekend. Brad Donaghy will be the team’s tire carrier, replacing Matt Ver Meer. Trey Burklin will be the team’s jackman, replacing Bailey Walker. These are the first changes to the Joe Gibbs Racing team’s pit crew this year.

“This is the time to make changes for the (playoffs) and evaluate it,” crew chief Chris Gayle told NBC Sports of the moves.

Also, the pit crew for Daniel Suarez, who is seeking to make the playoffs, will have a change. Brian Eastland will be the new front tire changer, replacing Clay Robinson on the Joe Gibbs Racing team. This is the second change of the pit crew this season for the team. Graham Molatch became the team’s jackman at Pocono in June. He replaced Burklin, who started the season as that team’s jackman.