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Joe Gibbs Racing announces Xfinity crew chief lineup for 2020

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Joe Gibbs Racing has announced its Xfinity Series crew chief lineup for the 2020 season, which will see full-time efforts by Brandon Jones, Harrison Burton and Riley Herbst.

Jeff Meendering will return for a second season working with Brandon Jones on the No. 19 Toyota.

Together the two earned Jones’ first career Xfinity Series win last month at Kansas Speedway.

“I’m having so much fun racing in the Xfinity Series right now and I’m really happy to have Jeff back next year,” Jones said in a press release. “We got our first win together this year and having Jeff and the team stay together on our No. 19 Toyota Supra allows us to build on that momentum. We are focused on finishing out this season strong and working hard to have a fast start to 2020 beginning in Daytona.”

For Burton, he will have Ben Beshore as his crew chief on the No. 20 Toyota.

Beshore served as crew chief on the No. 18 car this year in his first full-time season as a crew chief. He worked with Burton and six other drivers, including Herbst.

“I’m excited to get the 2020 season started and continue building on the relationship that I have with Ben (Beshore) and the entire group at JGR,” Burton said in a press release. “This year has really helped me and I’m ready to take the next step in my career with JGR and the No. 20 team.”

On the No. 18 Toyota, Herbst will be paired with Dave Rogers, who returns to a crew chief role after a tenure serving as JGR’s Xfinity Series technical director.

Rogers has 128 starts and 20 wins as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series since 2006. He has 277 starts and 18 wins as a Cup Series crew chief since 2005.

“I’m really going to lean on Dave Rogers next season to learn as much as I can,” Herbst said in a press release. “He’s had so much success over the years with a number of different drivers and to have a veteran like him will really help as I continue to learn each week on the track. I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know him and build our relationship as we prepare for Daytona and the 2020 season.”

Both Burton and Herbst will compete for Rookie of the Year honors.

“We’ve got a great line up for our Xfinity program for 2020 with Brandon really hitting his stride and both Riley and Harrison continuing to develop and grow their careers,” said Steve DeSouza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity Series and Development for Joe Gibbs Racing, in a press release. “I believe we have the right people in place with Jeff Meendering, Dave Rogers and Ben Beshore leading the 19, 18 and 20 teams. We look forward to each competing for race wins and ultimately a 2020 championship, along with Riley and Harrison contending for Rookie of the Year honors.”

Daniel Suarez gets new crew chief for final six races of season

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Crew chief Scott Graves is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing and will be replaced immediately by Dave Rogers, the team announced Tuesday.

Rogers has served as technical director for JGR’s Xfinity operation. He will be the crew chief for Daniel Suarez the rest of the season.

Rogers and Suarez worked together for five races in 2017, Suarez’s rookie year, before Rogers took a personal leave of absence. Graves had been Suarez’s crew chief since then.

Rogers has 18 career Cup wins while working with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards at JGR.

Suarez was the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver not to make the Cup playoffs this season. He enters this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway 18th in points.

Two Xfinity Series crew chiefs fined for lug nut violations at Kansas

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There were no penalties assessed to NASCAR Cup teams from Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

However, NASCAR assessed monetary fines to two Xfinity Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nut violations in last Saturday’s race at Kansas.

The No. 22 and No. 19 teams were penalized for violating: Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.

Greg Erwin, crew chief of the Team Penske No. 22 Ford of third-place finishing driver Ryan Blaney, was fined $5,000.

Also fined $5,000 was Dave Rogers, crew chief of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of eighth-place finisher Matt Tifft.

Joe Gibbs Racing announces new role for former crew chief Dave Rogers

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Joe Gibbs Racing announced Monday that former Cup crew chief Dave Rogers will be the technical director for its NASCAR Xfinity Series program.

Rogers had been a Cup crew chief from 2010 to early this season, working with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez. Rogers won 18 Cup races.

Rogers took a personal leave from the team in March after serving as crew chief for Suarez in the season’s first five races. Scott Graves assumed Rogers’ role with the team.

In his new role, Rogers will work closely with Steve deSouza, JGR’s executive vice president, in all aspects of competition across the organization’s Xfinity program.

“I really appreciate the support I’ve received over the past couple of months allowing me to take care of what I needed to in my personal life,” said Rogers in a statement from the team. “This position really excites me and I’m looking forward to working closely with Steve (deSouza), our crew chiefs and everyone in our XFINITY Series shop on all aspects of competition.”

 

Challenge of facing repaved track nothing like what Daniel Suarez faced last week

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A repaved and reconfigured track that he hadn’t driven on until today? No problem. It’s much easier than what Daniel Suarez experienced last week.

Suarez is looking forward to this week’s challenge after all he went through leading up to Martinsville and last weekend’s race.

Joe Gibbs Racing announced two days before Suarez took to the track at Martinsville Speedway that crew chief Dave Rogers would take an indefinite leave for personal reasons. Scott Graves, who won the 2016 Xfinity title with Suarez, is serving as Suarez’s crew chief.

Suarez admits that the change was a challenge.

The race wasn’t better. Suarez finished a season-worst 32nd in his first Cup run at Martinsville.

“Just happy to get that week over,’’ Suarez said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “There was a lot going on that weekend, and it was a lot of work and a lot of rush and a lot going on. I’m just glad to get that behind.’’

Suarez admits even with the changes to the track at Texas, this is a “more normal” week for him.

“Last week … I wasn’t very excited to get to the racetrack and talk to (the media), to be honest,’’ he said. “It was just a lot going on. I just wanted to get to the racetrack and drive the car. There were a lot of adjustments. When you change a key part of the team, it definitely changes something.

“Now for Texas, I feel we have more time to adapt and talk about things and talk about the racetrack and talk about the car. More and more confident coming into Texas.’’

Suarez will be busy this weekend, competing in both the Xfinity and Cup events. He’s looking forward to the extra track time because of the unknowns with the changes to the racing surface.

One thing he’ll focus on is to be better in the middle of races. While he has a pair of seventh-place finishes (Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway), those results have been because of strong finishes that made up for struggles in the middle of the race. His average running position in the middle of a race this season is 27.3, and his average finish is 19.3.

“I don’t feel that we have raced in the whole race very well, but we have closed the race good with a car that I felt like was capable of doing that,’’ Suarez said. “I had a lot of conversations with Dave about having the right car in the middle of the race to get there in the end. I know that we can do it. We just have to work on our communication to get the car closer to what I like and where I can feel more comfortable and be fast. Hopefully, I can get to that point fast with Scott.’’

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