What drivers said after Coca-Cola 600

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600:

Denny Hamlin — Winner: “It’s so special. It’s the last big one that’s not on my résumé. It meant so much. … I’ve been a Coke family driver for 18 years. Never won the Coke 600 before. This means a lot. Man, we weren’t very good all day. Just got ourselves in the right place at the right time. What a battle there. … (On avoiding the last wreck) “I knew that they were all going to drive in way too deep so I actually backed up the corner. I got a good run off because you just never know what can happen and it kind of just played out luckily how I was hoping. Those guys slid in there and they were going to drive in deep and they were on older left side tires. Man, that was a fortunate win for us.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “We didn’t have a good enough day to be even in that position, so just a strong fight all night by this M&M’s team. I give honor to those we remember on Memorial Day weekend. I appreciate the opportunity and being able to do that. We had Sergeant Thiem on here with us this weekend. We tried to come with victory lane, and honor him, but unfortunately, one spot short.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 3rd: “We went to the back five times for bad pit stops too, but everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang team did a good job. We just kept battling. We had a decent car after I hit the wall I got a lot tighter and then every time we’d make it up, we’d just fall on our face on pit road and go to the back again. We just kept battling. That’s just kind of the name of the game in this particular race because it’s just so long. I knew the attrition was gonna be high.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 4th: “We’ve obviously struggled really bad the last month and a half and to have a good car like that today and had a car capable of winning and I threw it away, plain and simple. I’m glad we were able to at least get back to fourth. It’s unfortunate. There are 100 different things I would have done differently if I could re-do it again, but obviously you’re racing in the moment and made a mistake and went too far. We’ll come back next week and see if we can cap it off.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 5th: “Really the only reason we got up there was because everyone crashed at the end of the race and gave us an opportunity, but this Yahoo Camry was every bit as capable as the guys that beat us. Disappointing day for sure because I feel like we had something that could contend for the win, but top-five is nothing to hang your head about.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 6th: “The ups is that we had a lot of speed. The downs are flat tires. It’s pretty straightforward. As far as I know, I don’t think there was anything in particular that we did on that one run with the left rear to cause the flat. I just think with having clean air and being able to exit as wide as possible off of Turn 2 every time – you can kind of exit off that bump in Turn 2 and be able to put the car where you want to. A lot of the bumps are in (Turns) 3 and 4. I’m guessing I just damaged my tire trying to get the most out of our No. 8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet. That was frustrating, but we got a lot of stage points. With all of the chaos that happened, we were able to get back to a sixth-place finish. We were able to pass Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and Michael McDowell through the turf. There’s no splitter to rip off, so I was able to pass two cars there at the end through the turf coming to the line, which was nice and we came home sixth.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 8th: “We had a really fast FR8 Auction Ford Mustang. Unfortunately, we got too much damage in that wreck, that big pile up when the 6 (Brad Keselowski) spun with somebody. That kind of took a little speed out of our race car, but we did a good job working really hard trying to get the balance back. Then a lot of attrition there at the end. It was a wild race and we got ourselves in position there. I’m proud of everybody. It’s another top 10. We keep clicking them off. We had good speed.  We qualified in the top 10 and finished in the top 10 today, so it’s good.  It’s good to be disappointed with that. I thought we had a top five coming to the checkered there and got all stacked up there four-wide and got in the fence a little bit, but we’ll take a top 10 and move on to Gateway.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 9th: “The first half was a struggle for all of us, but I was especially frustrated with myself. To rebound from that and have a shot to win there late was something to be proud of. Our team fought really hard, so I’m happy with that. (Chase) Briscoe was really good that long run there. Wish we would have been just a little bit better so he never would have got to me to work really hard and ultimately spin. You’re kind of gambling on tire stuff there. I think we took two to try and get ourselves the front row, which we did. I think the four tires was just a little bit better than me and got to my inside there through Turns 3 and 4. It’s just really tight racing off of 4. The 3 (Austin Dillon) almost had me cleared and we just made contact there and there was a big wreck. Kind of ended my night there. Again, proud of my Hendrick team. Even going back to yesterday and me making a mistake getting into the wall really put ourselves in a bad spot all night. Our pit stall was terrible having to come around the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) and then the 10 (Aric Almirola) coming around me. The day would have been a lot easier if I just didn’t hit the wall yesterday.”

Joey Logano — Finished 20th: “Hate to finish a race that way. That was a hard hit there. My Shell-Pennzoil team fought all day, kept making the car better throughout the race and we put ourselves in position for a top-five finish at the end and then just got collected there.”

Cole Custer — Finished 21st: “The team did a great job working on the car all night and keeping up with the track. I was really happy with what we had and it felt like we had made big gains and turned things around. I felt like we had a good shot at the end, but it just ended up that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I really can’t wait to get to the track next weekend. We’re moving in the right direction and I’ve always loved racing at Gateway.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 24th: “We had a really good day overall and had some fun driving in the top 10 with our No. 16 Charlotte Knights Camaro ZL1. I got into the wall and had to pit for tires, which put us down a couple laps. We thought we could get back on the lead lap, but we had a parts failure that ultimately ended our day. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t quite make it to the end, but we had a fast car and I think we made some gains.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 25th: “I just got tight. With these cars, clean air is very important. They were side-by-side in front of me. I was fine in front and eventually I got in the middle of the wake and I got super tight. I put myself in a bad situation there. It was just a tough situation. I’m just glad Chris (Buescher) is fine. My team has been building rockets. We had the best car out there. It was a struggle for us on pit road. Not my guys, but the situation where we were in with the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin). We have to learn from it and come back stronger.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 26th: “We just got caught up in it with our Fifth Third Bank Mustang. Our team did a really nice job and made some huge gains through the weekend.  I’m really proud of them. We had a good race car. We drove all the way into the top 10 and just got back a little bit there and got around cars that really hadn’t been and got caught up in a wreck. It’s unfortunate. It’s not ideal by any means. I’m gonna be a bit sore tomorrow. I haven’t been upside-down in a really long time. The team did a really nice job. We had great speed and had a chance at this thing, it just didn’t work out. I do appreciate (the safety crew) for helping me and setting it back over again, so thank you to everybody working for not slamming it back.  It was nice to be able to get out. The blood is rushing to your head a little bit. I guess I could have pulled the belts and fallen right to the ground, but figured I’d just wait on them.”

Justin Haley — Finished 27th: “Our No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1 was difficult to manage all day. We fought the car being extremely tight and having little front direction. Unfortunately, our day ended early due to engine troubles. We will move on to St. Louis!”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 29th: “I was tucked up tight behind (Tyler Reddick) and he was kind of lower than I thought on the frontstretch and kind of ran through the turf. Then got to (Turn 1) and jerked right and I think he was up behind (Daniel Suarez) and thinking he was gonna hit that apron and I didn’t have time to kind of get right and I just kind of hit the apron and got me loose. I hate that other cars got tore up. I just didn’t really know where I was at being close to him and you kind of see that sometimes. I just hate that it tore us up”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 30th: “Something happened where Blaney got turned and I saw it and checked up and got wiped out from behind. I hate it for everybody at RFK. We unloaded and weren’t very good and we finally got the car good the run before this. We were driving forward and making passes and were almost into the top 10 and then get wrecked. We just can’t seem to catch a break.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 31st: “We had a winning top-five Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, we did. Just was hoping we would have enough tires to get to the end and the sequences that everyone was on. Billy Scott’s (crew chief) a great leader. We’ve wrecked a lot of cars this year and we were just wrong place, wrong time this year. Bubba (Wallace) was in front of me and tried not to hit him. I think I hit about 15 different things. And I tried to crank it up and was like, ‘Nah, she’s done.’ This is a rough situational event. Fast car and I’m really proud of my guys. I’ll be at the shop on Tuesday helping them tear it down.”

William Byron — Finished 32nd: “I thought we were in the catbird seat there. We were the first team on new tires. Had a good restart through (turn) one and got ahead of the No. 45 (Kurt Busch). We were going to cycle out really well there; and then they just started wrecking on the bottom and came up into us on the top.It sucks. It’s chaos out there. You can’t drive the car the slightest bit sideways or you’re wrecked. So, if somebody gets a little bit sideways, then we all wreck. It either takes out other people or they spin to the infield. Just chaos.”

Austin Cindric Finished 34th: “We cut a left-rear tire down right on corner entry. There was absolutely no warning and unfortunately that was the lap I decided to run the bottom, so a long distance to the wall and a pretty hard hit. We had a really, really fast Menards/Cardell Ford Mustang. I was having fun. We had a fast car and fast cars usually climb up through the field running the top and running the bottom. It’s just unfortunate.”

2022 spotlights: The Clash, the King and Martinsville Mania

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The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season brought something new (a race inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum!) and something old (a win by the No. 43!) and a lot in-between.

In many ways, it was one of NASCAR’s best seasons. There were new winners, the Next Gen car kicked up competition a bit and there was a race finish (see the Ross Chastain file) like none other in the history of the sport.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: The name game

There were downsides, too: The safety of the new car came under fire (figuratively and literally, as wheel-well flames ended more than a few rides), drivers’ seasons were interrupted or ended because of hard wrecks and some races were less than stellar.

Looking back over the February-to-November marathon, some races stand out:

Rocking the City of Angels – Despite the naysayers, the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a roaring success. A platter of questions, including whether the purpose-built track inside the stadium would hold up under heavy stock cars and generate good racing, awaited as teams rolled into LA. The racing wasn’t sensational, but it was good, and there were no problems with the track. A huge crowd showed up, and NASCAR left town with many ideas, having proven that it could run a race on a temporary track inside a large stadium. It has escaped no one’s notice that there are many other large stadiums in the country – and, by the way, outside it.

Wiggling at Watkins Glen – The venerable New York road course produced another hot finish as teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled for the win. Larson forced Elliott out of the main groove and took the lead for good with five laps remaining. “I’m not proud of it, but I knew it’s what I had to do to get the win,” Larson said. Elliott didn’t publicly criticize Larson, but it was clear he wasn’t pleased with Larson’s move.

MORE: Fighting knights and pie in the sky

Six hundred miles, and then some – The long history of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 600-mile race has produced some great competition – and some races that prompted long naps. This year’s was one of the craziest and, by the way, the longest. The race went to two overtimes, finally ending after 413 laps and 619.5 miles, making it the longest race in NASCAR’s 75 years. The winner – perhaps most accurately described as the survivor – was Denny Hamlin, who outran teammate Kyle Busch over the final two laps.

The King is back…but where is he? – The Cup playoffs opened at Darlington Raceway with the storied Southern 500, but the playoffs took a back seat to other storylines. Erik Jones scored an upset win in Richard Petty’s No. 43, marking the iconic car’s first victory since 2014. Petty, however, missed the Victory Lane festivities. He and Dale Inman, the No. 43’s former crew chief, left the race early for the drive home to North Carolina. The long night held several incidents, including one involving Kevin Harvick, who criticized NASCAR after his car caught fire, uttering his now-infamous diatribe about what he called “crappy-ass parts.”

No watermelon, but a lotta juiceThe finish of the Oct. 29 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway generated international interest. Christopher Bell won in a must-win situation to advance in the playoffs, but the post-race spotlight was on Ross Chastain, who rode the outside wall through the final two turns at speeds rarely seen on the short track and finished fourth, good enough to stay in the championship hunt. Chastain’s remarkable move drew comment from observers outside NASCAR, including Formula 1 drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 5: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

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The end of the season provides a chance to look back and each year I go through the photos on my phone and find those that show the highs and lows of a sport that goes from February to November. 

Here are some of the photos that stood out for me:

1. Daytona 500 

Although the time spent in Daytona Beach, Florida, has shrunk in recent years with a more compact track schedule, the intensity remains. As do the emotions. 

Cup rookie Austin Cindric accomplished “a racer’s dream” in winning the Daytona 500, accomplishing something in his second attempt that took Darrell Waltrip 17 times and Dale Earnhardt 20 times to accomplish.

Cindric blocked teammate Ryan Blaney coming to the finish line and beat Bubba Wallace by half a car length. 

It was the second time Bubba Wallace had finished runner-up in this race. Unlike 2018, when Wallace was excited with finishing second, Wallace felt no such emotion this time. 

“2018 was awesome,” Wallace said of his runner-up result in the Daytona 500. “2022 was not awesome.

“I didn’t have a fighting chance the first time in 2018. This one being that close, it’s like a gut punch.”

The photos that stand out to me are of the picture of Cindric’s car covered in red, white and blue confetti before going through post-race inspection and the disappointment Wallace wore on pit road after the race.

Austin Cindric‘s car after winning the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

A dejected Bubba Wallace after finishing second in the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

2. Road America 

The Cup Series is not returning to the Wisconsin road course after two years there. Instead, this race will be replaced by the Chicago street course event in 2023.

This past season’s race was memorable. Tyler Reddick scored his first career Cup win on July 3. Nine days later came the announcement that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing for 23XI Racing in 2024 (That timetable moved up to 2023 after RCR signed Kyle Busch to replace Reddick in the No. 8.).

Among the special moments from the Road America race was Austin Cindric walking the length of pit road to victory lane to congratulate Reddick.

Austin Cindric hugs Tyler Reddick in victory lane at Road America on July 3, 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Walking with Cindric, I asked him why he was making the trip to see Reddick.

“I think of anyone in the field, he probably deserves that win more than anybody else,” Cindric told me. “I think he’s put himself in position. He’s a really likable guy, and I feel like you can see how hard he works. 

“I’ve seen him mature as a driver and a person and as a friend and a father. It’s cool to see somebody you’re close to go through that.”

When Cindric arrived in victory lane, he walked up to Reddick and gave his friend a bearhug, lifting Reddick well off the ground.

In all the excitement, Reddick’s son, Beau, was not impressed. He was sound asleep in victory lane.

Tyler Reddick’s son Beau sleeps in victory lane after his father’s first Cup win in July 2022 at Road America. (Photo: Dustin Long)

3. Special moments

One never knows what you’ll come across in a season that stretches so long through the calendar. 

These are a few such moments that proved special for one reason or the other.

As storm clouds gathered over Daytona International Speedway in February, the sun was settling, creating a sky both ominous and spectacular. The photo captures that scene as Cole Custer walks through the garage. After this season, Stewart-Haas Racing announced it was replacing Custer with Ryan Preece in the No. 41 Cup car and that Custer would run in the Xfinity Series for the team.

Cole Custer walks under an ominous sky at Daytona in February 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Another photo that stands out to me comes from the Clash at the Coliseum. There were so many questions about the exhibition race inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, such as if the specially built track would withstand the rigors of cars, what would the debut of the Next Gen car be like and would fans really be interested in such an event.

The track held up. So did most of the cars and the fans came. While not a sellout, more than 50,000 people attended the event and NASCAR noted that many had not purchased tickets to a NASCAR event before. The event was a success.

What stood out to me was the lines of people waiting to buy souvenirs the day of the race. In some places, lines stretched well away from the merchandise trailers. 

Fans stand in line for merchandise at the Clash at the Coliseum in Feb. 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Sometimes you never know what you’ll see at at event. At an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Inman and Ray Evernham all stood together. That is 18 Cup championships (eight by Inman, seven by Petty and three by Evernham).

NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham, Richard Petty and Dale Inman at the NASCAR Hall in April 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

4. New winners 

This season saw five first-time Cup winners: Austin Cindric (Daytona 500 in February), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix in March), Ross Chastain (Circuit of the Americas in April), Daniel Suarez (Sonoma in June) and Tyler Reddick (Road America in July).

I caught this scene of Suarez alone in his thoughts in the garage at Nashville Superspeedway in his first race since that Sonoma victory.

Daniel Suarez at Nashville Superspeedway in June 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

5. Martinsville

Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the playoff race was stunning. Needing two positions to advance to the championship race, Chastain put his car into fifth gear, planted his car against the wall in Turn 3, took his hands off the wheel and let the wall guide his Chevrolet around the final two turns while he floored the throttle.

Amazingly, it worked. He passed five cars and earned a spot in the championship. Although he didn’t win the Cup title, Chastain provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2022 season.

As I was leaving the infield late that Sunday night. I stopped to take a picture of the wall and the marks Chastain’s car had left on its remarkable charge.

Turn 4 wall after Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the October 2022 race. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Dr. Diandra: 2022 accidents steady, spins up 200%

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Cautions were up in 2022 despite fewer stage-end and competition cautions of any year since stage racing began. The third installment of 2022 by the numbers focuses on the causes (and causers) of cautions.

Cautions

I divide cautions into those that are planned — like competition and stage-end breaks — and so-called ‘natural’ cautions. Natural cautions include accidents, spins, stalled cars, debris or liquid on track and weather.

My first graph shows that this year’s 302 cautions are the most total cautions since 2014. That’s despite only 73 planned cautions, the fewest since stage racing started.

A stacked bar chart showing the planned and natural cautions from 2013 to 2022

The 2022 season had 43 more total cautions relative to 2021, and 57 more natural cautions than last year. That’s the most natural cautions since 2016.

Causes

Caution classification is subjective. Obviously, a car spinning is a spin and cars colliding is an accident. But if a car spins and then hits another car, is it a spin or an accident? If an accident happens at a stage break, do you record the caution as an accident or a stage break?

This year presented an even thornier problem.

The 2022 season had more blown tires and wheels coming off cars than any season I can remember. NASCAR classified some incidents arising from blown tires as debris cautions, others as accidents.

To me, a blown tire seems fundamentally different from a stray car part on the track.

The myriad tire and wheel problems prompted me to review all 302 cautions. I added three additional caution categories: wheel issues, fire and tire issues.

Tire issues were so labeled only if a blown tire preceded a crash or spin. Tires that blow because of contact with the wall or flat spotting aren’t included. If I couldn’t tell for sure that the blown tire came first, I left the caution in its original category.

My re-categorization complicates comparing cautions by category to previous years. That concern is offset by the need to set a benchmark against which to measure next year’s data.

The table below compares my breakdown of cautions with NASCAR’s for the 2022 season. I admit that I’m not totally objective, either. But I believe my categorization better reflects the overall nature of the 2022 season.

A table comparing breakdowns of cautions

The most surprising statistic is the extraordinarily large number of spins. Cup Series drivers spun between 20 and 27 times per season between 2016 and 2021. Drivers in 2022 spun 60 times.

There haven’t been that many spins since 2007, when the series recorded 66 spins. That was the first year of the Gen-5 car; however, the number of spins this year is similar to the numbers for the Gen-4 car. Fans wanted a car that was harder to drive. The spin statistics are a good argument that they’ve gotten their wish.

Drivers in accidents, spins and stalls

I treat accidents, spins, and stalls as a single category because of the questions about differentiating between them. ‘Incidents’ combines all the spins, all the accidents and all the stalls.

And remember: being involved in an incident doesn’t imply that driver caused the incident.

The graph below shows all drivers with 12 or more incidents during the 2022 season.

A stacked bar graph showing the drivers involved in the most accidents, spins and/or stalls

Remember also that this count doesn’t include wheel or tire issues. A driver crashing because a tire blew is fundamentally different from an accident or spin.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ross Chastain were involved in the most incidents in 2022. Both drivers had 15 accidents. Stenhouse also had two spins and a stall, while Chastain had three spins. Stenhouse led in caution-causing incidents in 2021 with 17 accidents.

Kyle Busch comes in third in total incidents, and first in spins with seven. For comparison, no other driver had more than four spins.

No full-time driver evaded incidents entirely. Justin Haley was involved in the fewest: four. William Byron tallied six while Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell came in at eight each.

Cautions by race

The Coca-Cola 600 was the longest Cup Series race in history in terms of mileage. Its 18 cautions helped make it long in terms of time, too.

But longer races offer more opportunities to crash. A better metric is the number of crashes per 100 miles of racing. I removed stage and competition cautions because planned cautions don’t depend on race length.

The Bristol dirt race’s 14 cautions were the third highest total after the Coca-Cola 600 and Texas’s 16 cautions. But the dirt race was the shortest race of the season at 133.25 miles.

A vertical bar graph showing the races with the most cautions per 100 miles of racing

That gives the Bristol dirt race a whopping 9.0 natural cautions per 100 miles of racing. Last year, the Bristol dirt race was also at the top of the list with 7.4 total cautions per 100 miles of racing.

Bristol’s asphalt race had the second-most cautions per 100 miles at 3.4  The two Bristol races are followed by COTA (3.0) and Texas (2.8).

What about superspeedways?

The only superspeedway race in the top-10 cautions-per-100-miles graph is the second Atlanta race. The fall Talladega race had the fewest cautions per 100 miles this year of any oval at 0.80.

But superspeedways claim more cars per accident. The summer Daytona race featured 46 cars involved in five accidents for an average of 9.2 cars per accident. Some cars were involved in multiple accidents, which is why the total number of cars in accidents is larger than the number of cars racing.

The fall Talladega race comes in second in terms of wreckage per accident with an average of 8.0 cars. The spring Talladega race ties with the Bristol asphalt race. Both had an average of 7.0 cars per accident.

Road America had the fewest cautions of any race in 2022. With only two stage-break cautions, Road America had 0.0 natural cautions per 100 miles. Sonoma had 0.72 natural cautions per 100 miles and the Charlotte Roval 0.78.

We normally use cautions as a proxy to count accidents and spins. The problem is that not every incident causes a caution — especially at road courses. There were seven cautions for wheels coming off cars, some wheels came off on pit road. Some drivers limped their cars back to the pits after losing wheels.

And there were a lot more spins that didn’t bring out cautions.

Next week, I’ll tell you all about those.

Front Row Motorsports Cup teams to have new crew chiefs in 2023

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Both Front Row Motorsports Cup teams will have new crew chiefs in 2023, the team announced Wednesay.

Travis Peterson will be the crew chief for the No. 34 car that has been driven by Michael McDowell. Peterson replaces Blake Harris, who will be the crew chief for Alex Bowman in 2023 at Hendrick Motorsports.

Peterson, 31, has been a race engineer. He spent the past five seasons at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. He worked with drivers Chris Buescher, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth during that time. Peterson previously served as a race engineer at Hendrick Motorsports for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and also at JR Motorsports.

“I think there are a lot of people in the NASCAR garage who are noticing what Front Row Motorsports has accomplished with the new car and their truck program,” Peterson said in a statement from the team.

“This is an opportunity to come into a winning and championship organization and help take that next step of getting more wins in the Cup Series and be in the playoffs. I’m ready to get to work. I’ve always had the goal of becoming a crew chief, and now I’m ready to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Front Row Motorsports also announced Wednesday that Seth Barbour, who had been the crew chief for the No. 38 driven by Todd Gilliland, has been named as the organization’s technical director. Barbour will oversee all track engineering and car preparation processes for the Front Row Motorsports Cup cars.

A new crew chief for the No. 38 team will be announced later.

Also, Ryan Bergenty, car chief for the No. 34 team, has been promoted to performance director and will oversee all body and chassis assembly for all Front Row Motorsports entries.

“The past two seasons Front Row Motorsports has seen success and we’re taking the next steps forward,” said Jerry Freeze, general manager of Front Row Motorsports, in a statement.

“We know that Travis is a person that can immediately come in, take the baton, and continue to move the No. 34 team to the front. We also made several changes internally to help with car preparation and engineering for all our race cars and trucks. Our final piece is finding a new leader for the No. 38 team. We’re confident that with these changes that we’ll be even better next season.”

Front Row Motorsports has not announced its driver lineup for next season. Both McDowell and Gilliland have said they plan to be back with the organization.