Chad Johnston

Bubba Wallace says he has offers from RPM, Ganassi

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Bubba Wallace confirmed to NBCSN’s Marty Snider on Sunday that he is mulling offers from Richard Petty Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing for next season.

Snider reported that Wallace and RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein both confirmed that Wallace already has ownership in the team as first reported by Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports. Snider reported that Wallace, whose contract expires after this season, said that it is “not locked and loaded” that he’ll stay with Richard Petty Motorsports after this season.

The offer from Chip Ganassi Racing would be to drive the No. 42 car next season.

Former champion Matt Kenseth drives the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing, having joined the team in April after Kyle Larson was fired.

Kenseth told NBC Sports this weekend that “we really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you. I think that when things are going as bad as they’re going I don’t think either side is probably super anxious about talking about what’s happening six or eight months for now.

“I think we’re more worried about trying to get this ship righted as soon as possible and start getting some finishes and start running up front. … We really believe that the cars and the team and everything, if we have a really good day, is capable of winning. I think that’s probably what is at the forefront of our mind right now, trying to get running good first of all then hopefully executing and possibly get in a position where we could sneak one out.”

Entering Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan, Kenseth had two top-10 finishes in 17 starts with the team. He finished 17th in Saturday’s race at Michigan. His best finish since returning to Cup this season was second at Indianapolis in July.

Chip Ganassi Racing changed crew chiefs on the No. 42 team on Aug. 4. Engineer Phil Surgen replaced Chad Johnston, who is no longer with the team.

Chip Ganassi Racing makes crew chief change

Chip Ganassi Racing
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced Tuesday that engineer Phil Surgen will be the crew chief for Matt Kenseth‘s team for the rest of the season. Surgen has been with the team since 2016.

Surgen replaces Chad Johnston, who had been the crew chief for the No. 42 team since 2016. The team’s statement did not address Johnston’s status.

Chip Ganassi Racing hired Kenseth in late April to take over the ride after the team fired Kyle Larson. Kenseth finished 10th in his debut with the team in May at Darlington but has had one top-10 finish since, a runner-up showing at Indianapolis last month. Kenseth finished 37th last weekend at New Hampshire after causing three cautions.

NASCAR Penalty report from Miami

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Six crew chiefs across the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series were fined for not having properly installed lug nuts.

In the Cup series, crew chiefs James Small (for the No. 19 team of Martin Truex Jr.) and Chad Johnston (No. 42 Matt Kenseth team) each were fined $10,000 for the lug nut infraction.

In the Xfinity Series, crew chiefs Alexander Yontz (No. 11 Justin Haley team), Jeff Meendering (No. 19 Brandon Jones team) and Bryan Smith (No. 26 Colin Garrett team) each were fined $5,000 for the lug nut infraction.

In the Truck Series, crew chief Paul Clapprood (No. 44 Ross Chastain team) was fined $2,500 for the infraction.

NASCAR previously announced that crew chief Richard Boswell, car chief Nicholas Hutchins and engineer Daren Vanderley were suspended four races each after ballast fell out of Chase Briscoe‘s car.

NASCAR also previously announced that the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports team was docked 10 owner points for the track bar mount and support not meeting specifications.

NASCAR suspends one crew chief, fines five others for Darlington violations

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Chris Gayle, crew chief for Erik Jones, will be suspended for the next Cup race because Jones’ car was found to have two lug nuts not safe and secure after Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway.

The next scheduled Cup race is Wednesday night at Darlington. Gayle also has been fined $20,000.

Seth Chavka will serve as the crew chief for Gayle. Chavka is an engineer with the team.

NASCAR also announced that it fined five Cup crew chiefs $10,000 each for their cars having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race. Those crew chiefs are Rodney Childers (for driver Kevin Harvick), Chris Gabehart (Denny Hamlin), Paul Wolfe (Joey Logano), Chad Johnston (Matt Kenseth) and Jason Ratcliff (Christopher Bell).

Click here for Cup penalty report

 

Matt Kenseth scores top-10 finish in NASCAR return

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After placing third in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Darlington, Kurt Busch exited his No. 1 Chevy and looked at the infield scoring pylon.

The pylon showed the top-10 finishers of NASCAR’s first race in 71 days. Seven spots below Busch’s number was the No. 42, representing Busch’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate.

On March 8, the date of the last Cup Series race, that number belonged to Kyle Larson. But 10 weeks later, it has a new owner.

“There’s old Matt Kenseth, No. 42, finishing 10th,” Busch said in a post-race Zoom press conference.

Sunday saw the beginning of the Matt Kenseth era at CGR as the 48-year-old driver made his first start with the team and his first NASCAR start since the 2018 Cup season finale.

Kenseth was hired by CGR to replace Larson, who was fired by the team on April 14 for his use of a racial slur in an iRacing event.

Kenseth called the first few laps of the race “kind of nerve-racking.”

“Then it was sort of back to racing and thinking about what we needed to be better,” Kenseth said. “Everyone on the team has worked extremely hard the last couple weeks to prepare for today, and I’m proud of what we accomplished today. I learned a lot throughout the race about the way the car handles and reacts to different situations, and it was nice to really get acclimated to the Camaro and the team in a real racing environment. It’s always a good feeling to get a top- at a place like Darlington, but to have done it under these circumstances feels that much better. I still have some room to improve, but today shows all of us we have a lot to look forward to as the season continues.”

Prior to the start of Sunday’s race, Kenseth expressed his gratitude to the team given the trying circumstances they’ve faced.

After the first caution for a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crash, Kenseth had a lot of info for his crew chief, Chad Johnston. The two traded humorous barbs over it.

Kenseth displayed more of his trademark wit during the first stage break.

Throughout the race, Johnston helped Kenseth out by relaying him info on how much drivers were on and off the gas in the turns.

In the end, Kenseth was able to crack the top 10 by Lap 210. He raced as high as ninth before settling into 10th.

Kenseth’s top 10 at the track “Too Tough To Tame” came despite him not getting any on-track preparation before the drop of the green flag Sunday, which put him in a similar position to the rest of the field.

“That’s what he will do everyday, all race tracks,” Busch said. “That’s Matt. That’s what he does. So for him to balance out with (crew chief) Chad Johnston, Ganassi and everybody first day out to get a top 10, that’s huge. That’s sets a big tone. I’ve yet to be able to call (team co-owners) Chip Ganassi or Rob Kauffman, but I’ll be calling Matt Kenseth on my way home. It’s really a neat day for us to be able to bounce back like that.”

The performance by Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, reaffirmed the belief of race winner Kevin Harvick that Kenseth shouldn’t have been out of NASCAR racing to begin with.

“Matt Kenseth was winning races when he (stepped away from full-time race in 2017),” Harvick said. “As you look at that whole situation when he got kind of moved out at (Joe) Gibbs (Racing), Matt Kenseth is going to be a huge part of that race team and making Chip Ganassi Racing better. He’s going to be great for the sponsors. … Experience and skill go a long way in our sport. If you have those two things, like Matt does, you’re going to be successful. You don’t just forget how to do that. Matt’s a pro and a very good one at that.”