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Bootie Barker to serve as crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing ARCA team

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Joe Gibbs Racing has hired former Cup crew chief Bootie Barker to lead its ARCA program and work with driver Riley Herbst, who finished fifth in the standings last year as a rookie.

“This is an incredible opportunity for me and I am incredibly grateful to join the team here at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Barker said in a statement from the team. “I am just getting to know Riley and from what I can tell, he is a great kid with an unlimited amount of potential. We obviously want to win the championship this year, but we have a goal of improving each and every day.”

Barker had been with Germain Racing from the second half of the 2009 season to last year. Among the drivers he worked with were Casey Mears and Ty Dillon. Barker first was a Cup crew chief in 2003 with Dave Blaney.

“I am super excited to have “Bootie” Barker come on board with the No. 18 team this year,” Herbst said in a statement from the team. “He is going to bring a tremendous amount of experience that this team can use to assist our program. It is amazing to see what he has accomplished over his career and I am thrilled to work alongside of him. Heading into my second year, I believe that we will be competing for the ARCA Series title in 2018.”

Joe Gibbs Racing stated that Shannon Rursch, who had been Herbst’s crew chief last year, will transition to a new role as its ARCA/Development Program Advisor. He will work alongside Herbst and Barker on the ARCA program and also work with JGR development driver Ty Gibbs.

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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.

Clint Bowyer’s crew chief suspended one race for Martinsville post-race infraction

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Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief for Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Chevrolet owned by Stewart-Haas Racing, has been suspended one Cup race and fined $25,000 for a L1 infraction at Martinsville Speedway.

Bowyer’s car violated Section 20.18.5.2 of the rule book for its TV Video Package simulated weight not meeting NASCAR specifications.

The weight is meant to simulate on-board cameras that are on select cars.

Bowyer’s team was also docked 10 driver and owner points and Bowyer’s third-place finish is encumbered. It was Bowyer’s first top-five finish since Watkins Glen in August.

SHR will not appeal the penalty or suspension. Richard Boswell, crew chief on the team’s No. 41 car in the Xfinity Series, has been named interim crew chief.

NASCAR also fined Daniel Suarez‘ crew chief, Scott Graves, and Ty Dillon‘s crew chief, Robert Barker, $10,000 each for having one unsecured lug nut each on their car.

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Two NASCAR Cup Series crew chiefs fined for unsecured lug nuts

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NASCAR Cup Series crew chiefs Cole Pearn and Robert “Bootie” Barker have each been fined for having one unsecured lug nut following Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., and Barker, crew chief for rookie Ty Dillon, have been fined $10,000 each.

NASCAR’s lug nut policy was changed prior to the season.

As part of NASCAR’s revised penalty system, if a team has 17 or fewer lug nuts (of 20) secured, it is issued an L1 penalty with a three-race crew chief suspension and a $65,000 fine. For 18 secured lug nuts, a team receives a $20,000 fine and a one-race crew chief suspension. For 19 secured lug nuts, a $10,000 fine is issued.

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Crew chief Bootie Barker on low downforce and the politics of tire compounds

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The Sprint Cup season is only three weeks old, and teams already are adjusting to the low downforce package instituted by NASCAR.

So much work has been done, the crew chief for Casey Mears says, teams could nullify half of the package’s intentions by midseason, and NASCAR will have to “shave downforce away from us periodically.

“We already have gained I don’t know how much downforce back, and we will continue to find downforce and sideforce,” Barker said on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Theoretically, give us long enough, we’ll be back to where we were before you took it away again.”

Barker, who has been a Sprint Cup crew chief since 2003 and has led Mears to a season-best 14th at Atlanta, likens it to the package taking downforce from 2,000 to 1,000 pounds, and teams already having found a way to add 200 pounds.

“Talk to me in July and we’ll have 1,400 pounds of downforce,” Barker said “So much of what happens, so much of the rules are because of what we do. They’ll make a rule and think they’ll have us in the direction they want to get us, and we completely go the opposite direction. We create something. A good example. (In 1998) I guess, they made the “5-and-5 rule” where the valence had to be 5 inches off the ground and they thought they had something.

“What we did is we went and got really soft springs … then we put a tremendous amount of pitch in the car. Then they go, ‘Now you got to make your nose low again because now they’re taking advantage of that.’ So it never works out the way they want because, obviously, we’re difficult.”

Barker noted the further NASCAR goes with lower downforce, the more Goodyear will have to compensate when it comes to tire compounds.

“Then what they’d have to do is bring a harder tire back in to survive all the downforce,” Barker said, going on to call the issue of soft or hard tires a matter of “politics” for the manufacturer that’s been NASCAR’s exclusive tire provider since 1997.

“If Goodyear went and did a tire that’s soft and aggressive, and then Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed it too hard and blew the right-front and went into the wall, fans would lose their minds,” Barker said. “Other drivers would get out of the car and blame Goodyear for the tire blowing, when in truth, Goodyear probably told them, ‘Look, it’s going to be soft. If you push it, it might happen, right?’ Then, it’s just bad press.”

Barker said fans who want soft tires and tire fall off without the danger of tire blowouts “can’t have everything.”

“(Goodyear) just can’t afford to go too far and have us blow a tire,” Barker said. ‘I’m telling you the majority of the time that we blow a tire is because we push it.”

The Sprint Cup Series continues its season this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, a much flatter track compared to the speedways in Atlanta and Las Vegas that will involve heavy braking. Based off simulations Barker has seen, the cars will get around the 1-mile track faster than before and the aero package will have an impact.

‘This particular package, they’ve taken away more rear than front,” Barker said. “I would say loose in is still going to be an issue, into (Turn) 3 for sure. Then once you come off (Turns) 1 and 2, because you’re tucked up under someone so much, you get aero tight because it shoots the air off the nose. Absolutely, the aero package will make a difference.”