Getty Images

Stewart Haas Racing names Mike Shiplett as Cole Custer’s crew chief

Leave a comment

Stewart Haas Racing on Friday announced that NASCAR veteran Mike Shiplett has been named crew chief for the No. 00 Xfinity Series Ford and driver Cole Custer.

I’m very excited to start here over at Stewart Haas Racing,” Shiplett said on the first-ever SHR Podcast. “There’s a lot of technology. I’ve been here a little over two weeks and I’m learning a lot of stuff.”

Shiplett became available when Chip Ganassi Racing shut down its 2019 Xfinity Series racing operation on Jan. 4.

Yes, doors close, but fortunately opened up pretty quick thanks to (SHR president) Joe Custer,” Shiplett said. “Just putting our best foot forward and getting ready for the 2019 race season.

“The goal every week is to go and win races. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of young drivers and get them their first wins. I’m very proud of that.”

Shiplett takes over for Jeff Meendering, who was the 21-year-old Custer’s crew chief last season. Meendering has moved on to Joe Gibbs Racing for the upcoming Xfinity Series as crew chief for Brandon Jones.

“I’m looking forward to working with Cole and refining his talents, see where he needs help and just helping him in those areas so he can win multiple races each year,” Shiplett said.

Shiplett has served as a crew chief for 191 Xfinity Series races dating back to 2007, with 17 wins, 49 top-five and 83 top-10 finishes. Drivers he’s worked with include Kasey Kane, Elliott Sadler, Patrick Carpentier, Kyle Larson, Justin Marks, Brennan Poole, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Jamie McMurray and John Hunter Nemechek.

Shiplett also has 121 starts as a NASCAR Cup crew chief, with zero wins, three top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. Drivers he worked with include Terry Labonte, Mike Wallace, Reed Sorenson and A.J. Allmendinger.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

2018 Xfinity Season in Review: Cole Custer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cole Custer

CREW CHIEF: Jeff Meendering

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: Second

WINS: One (Texas II)

LAPS LED:  389 (Best through two seasons)

TOP 5s: 14 (Double amount from 2017)

TOP 10s: 26 (Up from 19 in 2017)

POLES: Six (Series-best)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Twenty top 10s in first 25 races of season … Five consecutive top fives from Charlotte I to Chicagoland) … Was only Ford driver in the Championship 4 … Made his first three Cup Series starts.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Didn’t win until race 31 of season. Previous win was 2017 season finale … Three DNFs for wrecks (Atlanta, Daytona II and Indianapolis) … Led race-high 95 laps in season finale at Miami, but finished second after he lost the lead following a longer green-flag run than the rest of the leaders in the final stage.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: Will compete in a rare third full-time season in Xfinity with a new crew chief after Jeff Meendering joined Joe Gibbs Racing … Custer will have a full-time teammate in Chase Briscoe, who will drive the No. 98 Ford.

Xfinity, Truck series banquet highlights

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Saturday night, The Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series gathered for their awards banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Here are some highlights from the banquet:

Xfinity Series

Tyler Reddick was crowned the Xfinity driver champion with Stewart-Haas Racing taking the owners championship.

Cole Custer finished second, Daniel Hemric was third and Christopher Bell finished fourth.

Camping World Truck Series

Brett Moffitt and owner Hattori Racing Enterprises grabbed the top spot in the Truck series.

Noah Gragson finished second with Justin Haley third and Johnny Sauter fourth.

 

Silly Season sees third rookie join Cup ranks in 2019

Leave a comment

Front Row Motorsports’ announcement that it will expand to three cars and add Matt Tifft increases the rookie field for the 2019 Cup season.

Tifft will be in a Cup rookie class with Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric. That’s already larger than last season’s rookie class, which featured only William Byron and Bubba Wallace (Byron won rookie of the year honors).

Tifft’s signing is just one of many changes that will take place for the 2019 season.

Here’s a look at where things stand in Silly Season:

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2019

No. 6: Ryan Newman joins Roush Fenway Racing for next season (announcement made Sept. 22)

No. 13: Ty Dillon said he will remain at Germain Racing for the 2019 season (announcement made Sept. 24)

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn move to Joe Gibbs Racing from the defunct Furniture Row Racing team (announcement made Nov. 7)

No. 31: Daniel Hemric replaces Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing for 2019. (announcement made Sept. 28)

No. 36: Matt Tifft joins Front Row Motorsports in a third car for the 2019 season (announcement made Nov. 27)

No. 43: Bubba Wallace will remain with Richard Petty Motorsports through the 2020 season (announcement made July 28)

No. 47: Ryan Preece replaces AJ Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing beginning next season (announcement made Sept. 28)

No. 95: Matt DiBenedetto moves to Leavine Family Racing for 2019. Leavine Family Racing also switches to Toyota beginning next year (announcement made Oct. 10)

CUP RIDES NOT YET ANNOUNCED FOR 2019

No. 1: Jamie McMurray will not drive this car next season. He has yet to decide if he will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2019 Daytona 500 and then move to a management position with the team. He said Nov. 16 he had yet to decide if to do that or some other racing.

No. 32: Go Fas Racing is looking for a driver after Matt DiBenedetto announced Sept. 7 that he would not return to the team after this season.

No. 41: Kurt Busch‘s one-year deal with Stewart-Haas Racing ended after the season. Reports have him headed to the No. 1 car in 2019. 

DRIVERS WITHOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR 2019

AJ Allmendinger: He told NBC Sports on Nov. 17 that he didn’t have any races for 2019 lined up at the time.

Trevor Bayne: 2011 Daytona 500 winner is looking for a ride after the Sept. 12 announcement that he won’t return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2019. He told NBC Sports on Sept. 14 that he has been calling car owners looking for a ride and would look at any of NASCAR’s top three national series. 

Kurt Busch: The 2004 Cup champion has yet to announce his 2019 plans.

Jamie McMurray: Has yet to announce what he’ll do in 2019 but it won’t be a full-time ride in the No. 1 car at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Daniel Suarez: With Martin Truex Jr. taking over the No. 19 in 2019, Suarez is looking for a ride. He said Sept. 21 that “we’re talking to a lot of people.” Suarez is the favorite for the No. 41 ride.

CREW CHIEF CHANGES

No. 3: Danny Stockman replaces Justin Alexander as Austin Dillon‘s crew chief in 2019 (move confirmed Nov. 26)

No. 11: Mike Wheeler will not return as Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief for 2019 (announcement made Nov. 16)

No. 24: Chad Knaus replaces Darian Grubb as William Byron’s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)

No. 48: Kevin Meendering replaces Chad Knaus as Jimmie Johnson‘s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)

No. 95: Mike Wheeler joins the team and replaces Jon Leonard, who moved back to Richard Childress Racing to be an engineer on Austin Dillon’s team.

XFINITY SERIES

ANNOUNCED CHANGES FOR 2019

No. 1: Noah Gragson replaces Elliott Sadler at JR Motorsports for 2019 season (announcement made Sept. 25).

No. 42: Chip Ganassi Racing signs Ross Chastain to drive the No. 42 full-time for 2019 (announcement made Nov. 9).

No. 98: Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to drive the team’s second Xfinity car and be a teammate to Cole Custer (announcement made Nov. 27).

RCR: Tyler Reddick moves from JR Motorsports to RCR for the 2019 season. Reddick’s car number, sponsor and crew chief will be announced later. (announcement made Oct. 31).

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte “most excited” for Xfinity Series in 2019

Leave a comment

Five full-time Xfinity Series drivers who won in 2018 – Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer – are confirmed to be back full-time next season.

Reddick will be the first Xfinity champion to return the following season since Chase Elliott did in 2015.

Bell will enter his sophomore season after earning seven wins in his rookie campaign, the most in a season since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999.

Because of this NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte said the “series I’m most excited about” in 2019 is “the Xfinity Series. … I love the reduction in the Cup drivers taking part and I love the returning talent we’re going to see.”

Dale Jarrett said he’s looking forward to seeing how Bell handles “the disappointment of not winning the championship after being the talk all year that he’s the driver to beat. ”

Watch the above video for more.