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Joe Gibbs Racing announces 2019 crew chief realignment

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On Thursday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced a crew chief realignment for the 2019 season for four of its teams.

Chris Gabehart will take over for Mike Wheeler as Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief in the Cup Series. Wheeler and Hamlin parted ways following the season finale at Homestead. Gabehart spent the last three seasons as an Xfinity crew chief for JGR earning a total of nine wins during that time. Last year, he was the crew chief for the Xfinity No. 19 team of Brandon Jones.

Eric Phillips will also move from the Xfinity series to Cup as the car chief for Hamlin. He earned eight wins during three seasons as an Xfinity crew chief on the No. 18.

Jeff Meendering will fill the crew chief spot on the Xfinity No. 19 vacated by Gabehart and will be paired with Jones.

Meendering returns to JGR after two years with Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 00 car.

Ben Beshore moves from his current role as engineer on Kyle Busch‘s car to fill the role of crew chief on the Xfinity No. 18. This team typically fields multiple drivers during the season.

“With such a short offseason it’s important to start work toward the 2019 season immediately and we are proud with the teams we have assembled now, both in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and in the Xfinity Series,” said owner Joe Gibbs in a press release. “With Chris Gabehart joining Adam Stevens, Chris Gayle, and Cole Pearn on the Cup side we believe we have the right leaders in place to benefit our entire organization.”

Former driver Mark McFarland will become team manager and crew chief for JGR’s K&N Pro series and ARCA car. In 31 starts in the Xfinity series, McFarland scored one top 10 at Talladega in 2006 while driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“In addition, we take a tremendous amount of pride in our accomplishments in the Xfinity Series and are excited to have Jeff Meendering and Ben Beshore join Jason Ratcliff to lead our efforts there, as well as bolster our developmental program in ARCA with the addition of Mark McFarland,” Gibbs said.

NASCAR suspends two Xfinity crew chiefs for New Hampshire violations

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NASCAR suspended the crew chiefs for Ryan Preece and John Hunter Nemechek for the next three Xfinity races after both their cars failed inspection after last weekend’s New Hampshire race.

NASCAR announced Tuesday that it also had fined crew chiefs Eric Phillips (Preece) and Mike Shiplett (Nemechek) $10,000 each. NASCAR penalized both drivers 10 points and docked the teams 10 owner points each. Their finishes will not count if needed in any tiebreaker. Preece placed third, and Nemechek was fourth at New Hampshire.

Both teams were penalized for failing post-race height requirements. It is an L1 infraction.

Joe Gibbs Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing both stated that they would not appeal the penalties.

NASCAR also fined Timothy Brown, the crew chief for David Starr, $5,000 for having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race.

In Cup, NASCAR fined Darian Grubb, crew chief for William Byron, $10,000 for one lug nut not safe and secure on Byron’s car after the race.

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Kyle Busch’s Xfinity crew chief suspended one race for Pocono violation

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NASCAR has issued a one-race suspension and a $10,000 fine against Eric Phillips, crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Xfinity team, for a violation last weekend at Pocono Raceway.

The team, which won the Pocono Green 250 with Kyle Busch, was issued an L1 infraction for failing post-race heights inspections.

Post-race height measurements were outside NASCAR’s allowed tolerances.

In addition to a loss of 10 owner points, the win will not apply to seeding in the owners points playoffs or tiebreakers.

JGR will not appeal the penalty. Dustin Zacharyasz will serve as crew chief.

In its penalty report, NASCAR also announced that Jeremy L. Murphy has completed its Road to Recovery program and that his suspension has been lifted.

NASCAR issues two fines for unsecured lug nuts at Auto Club Speedway

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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

No other penalties were announced.

NASCAR penalizes Chase Elliott’s team for Phoenix violation

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NASCAR penalized Chase Elliott‘s Hendrick Motorsports team for an L1 violation found after Sunday’s race at Phoenix.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish will not count toward any tiebreakers. By losing 25 points, Elliott drops from 16th to 23rd in the points.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

The team is appealing the penalty, and NASCAR confirmed Thursday that Kirk’s suspension will be deferred until the case is heard, allowing him to be in the garage at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. The appeal hearing date hasn’t been set yet.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were all cited for having one lug nut unsecured at the end of the Phoenix race. That resulted in a $10,000 fine each to crew chiefs Todd Gordon (Logano), Cole Pearn (Truex), Mike Wheeler (Hamlin), Jeremy Bullins (Blaney) and Brian Pattie (Stenhouse).

In the Xfinity Series, the teams of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were each found to have one lug nut unsecured. That resulted in a $5,000 fine for crew chief Brian Wilson (Keselowski) and Eric Phillips (Busch).

NASCAR also announced that Brandon Lee and Wayne Kanter had been indefinitely suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

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