Patrick Carpentier

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Bootie Barker to finish season, but Germain Racing will have new crew chief in 2018

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Germain Racing announced Tuesday that veteran NASCAR Cup crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker will finish the season with the team in that position, “but will not be with Germain Racing in 2018.”

Barker, 46, has been crew chief at Germain Racing, primarily for the No. 13 car, since 2010. Ty Dillon replaced Casey Mears as driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet this season. Dillon has struggled; his best finish in his first full Cup season has been 11th at Talladega four weeks ago.

The team did not state who would replace Barker.

Barker has served as a crew chief primarily in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series since 2001. Drivers he has worked with include Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Ward Burton, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green, Johnny Sauter, Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Wimmer, Blake Feese, Scott Riggs, Patrick Carpentier, Max Papis, Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears and Dillon.

In 479 Cup races as a crew chief, Barker has no wins, three top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. In 94 Xfinity Series races, he has four wins, 20 top fives and 39 top 10s. He also served as a crew chief in the Truck series for three races.

UPDATE: The team announced Wednesday that, like Barker, technical director Chris Andrews and engineer Scott Whitehead will complete the current season but will not return in 2018.

Dylan Lupton ending Sprint Cup season with Go Fas Racing

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Dylan Lupton will make his fourth Sprint Cup start this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and he’ll do so a different team from his first three starts.

After making starts with BK Racing, Lupton will drive the No. 32 Ford for Go Fas Racing.

The No. 32 has been driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte, Joey GasePatrick Carpentier, Eddie MacDonald, Boris Said and Jeb Burton.

“This is a great opportunity for me with Go Fas Racing to get some more experience on bigger tracks and strengthen my Sprint Cup resume,” Lupton said in a press release. “I’ve never been to Homestead before, but I heard it’s an awfully fun place to race.”

Lupton, a former member of the NASCAR Next program, competed at Sonoma, Richmond and Martinsville. His best result was 25th at Richmond.

 

Sprint Cup car owner Tommy Baldwin ‘exploring all my opportunities’ for team’s future

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Unsure about his organization’s future, team owner Tommy Baldwin met with his employees Monday “so I can give them the options if they needed to go find a job.’’

Baldwin told NBC Sports in an exclusive interview Tuesday that “I’m exploring all my opportunities right now. I’m trying to figure everything out.’’

He hopes to have his plans solidified by some point in December. Among the options, there is one thing Baldwin said he won’t do.

“I would never shut down,’’ said Baldwin, whose team debuted in the Cup series in 2009. “Don’t use that word. The options are keep going or sell. That’s the only two options we have.’’

Baldwin admits he’s given his employees a similar message “in six out of the eight years” of the team and always made it to the next season.

But Baldwin concedes that it is becoming more difficult for a small team like Tommy Baldwin Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Crew chief Tommy Baldwin poses during 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crew Chief portraits at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Although Tommy Baldwin Racing has competed in NASCAR’s top series since 2009, car owner Tommy Baldwin told NBC Sports that it is become more challenging to be competitive. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“The technology has just increased,’’ Baldwin said. “Everyone has just become smarter. The race teams, with Michael Waltrip Racing shutting down (after the 2015 season) and some other things, it put a lot good people, dispersed a lot of good people to different teams. Everyone had to spend a lot more money to keep up with the Gibbs and Hendrick programs.

“It’s funny to me how everyone thinks our racing is not good. This is the most competitive that NASCAR has ever been.’’

Baldwin admits it has been a struggle at times for the team and driver Regan Smith.

“I think we’ve been competitive at times,’’ Baldwin said. “I think we’ve been really bad at times. It’s been a competitive roller coaster. This year is probably one of the best race teams that we’ve assembled, it’s been a great group of guys that have worked for TBR. There’s a lot of pluses that we have going on, but again, it’s the almighty dollar that is talking.

“If you don’t have the money to keep up with the Joneses, you’re going to be left behind. If you told me eight years ago when I first started this team I would be pretty much in the same spot as when I started, I would have told you that you were crazy. This sport has taken off so much here as far as how smart we’ve all gotten. It’s not that we don’t know how to do it, it’s just that we don’t have the money to apply the proper resources to do it.’’

Baldwin has one of the 36 charters granted to Sprint Cup teams at the beginning of this season. That adds value to his organization, ensuring that his team — or whoever purchases the charter, if that happens — would be in every Cup points race.

Baldwin’s car is 32nd in the car owner point standings, ahead of five other teams that have charters (another team below Baldwin’s leased its charter for this season).

Smith is 33rd in the driver standings. He finished a season-best third at Pocono in August. His only other top-10 finish this year has been an eighth-place result in the Daytona 500.

Tommy Baldwin Racing debuted in 2009, competing in 25 races. The team had five drivers: Michael McDowell (eight races), Scott Riggs (eight), Patrick Carpentier (four), Mike Skinner (four) and Robert Richardson (one).

The organization continued to use a variety of drivers in 2010 before Dave Blaney ran 34 races in 2011. Blaney was with the team through 2013.

Tommy Baldwin Racing expanded to two full-time cars in 2012. Danica Patrick, in partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing, ran 10 races where Baldwin was listed as the car owner. Tommy Baldwin Racing ran two cars through 2014 before selling the assets of the second car (the No. 36 team) to Premium Motorsports.

Before becoming a team owner, Baldwin was a crew chief. He won five Cup races as a crew chief, including the 2001 Southern 500 and 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton.

Jimmie Johnson fastest in first Sprint Cup practice at Indianapolis; Gordon ninth

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Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest speed in Friday’s first Sprint Cup practice with a lap of 184.185 mph. He was followed by Denny Hamlin (182.563 mph), Casey Mears (180.346), Kevin Harvick (179.845) and Ryan Newman (179.784).

Jeff Gordon was ninth on the speed chart. He spent part of the session talking about how tight his car was in his various runs.

The only incident came when Kyle Busch spun with about 20 minutes left as he was running underneath Patrick Carpentier in Turn 2. Busch said Carpentier “chopped” him, sending Busch’s car into a slide. It made no contact with the wall.

“I’m gonna apologize for sure,” Carpentier told NBCSN. “I was a bit further ahead and I didn’t think he’d catch up that quickly. My mistake. I’m gonna go say that. I haven’t been in a car for five years. Things happen pretty fast.” 

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Eddie MacDonald to drive for Go Fas Racing at New Hampshire

Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Eddie MacDonald is set for his third Sprint Cup Series start next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

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Go Fas Racing will have MacDonald behind the wheel of the No. 32 Bentley’s Saloon Ford Fusion in the New Hampshire 301. Both of MacDonald’s previous Cup starts have come at New Hampshire with Go Fas Racing, with his best finish being a 35th in 2014. He finished 37th there last year.

With starts in all three NASCAR national series on his resume, MacDonald has been competing in the ACT Late Model Tour this season. Through seven events he has won twice and sits second in points. MacDonald has also made two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts.

With his July 17 start, MacDonald will be the sixth driver to have piloted the No. 32 car this season. The others include Jeffrey Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte, Jeb Burton, Patrick Carpentier, and Joey Gase.

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