Gene Nead

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Go Fas Racing announces crew chief change

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After only two races in the 2018 Cup season, Go Fas Racing announced Tuesday it has mutually parted ways with crew chief Gene Nead.

In a statement, the team that owns the No. 32 Ford driven by Matt DiBenedetto said Randy Cox will take over crew chief duties.

“Gene had an integral part in building an improved program at Go Fas Racing last season, our most competitive season yet, and we wish him all the best going forward,” the statement said.

Nead had been partnered with DiBenedetto since 2016 when he drove for BK Racing before joining GFR in 2017.

Together they earned two top 10s (Daytona 500, Brickyard 400) and finished 32nd in the standings.

Cox has worked 102 Cup races as crew chief since 2007. Last season he split time leading BK Racing’s No. 23 and No. 83 teams.

DiBenedetto has finishes of 27th (Daytona) and 31st (Atlanta) to start the season.

Wood Brothers playoff run could be worth $1 million to another Cup team

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JOLIET, Illinois — Car owner Archie St. Hilaire is nine weeks away from what could be a $1 million payout after winning the equivalent of the NASCAR lottery.

When Ryan Blaney won at Pocono in June to make the playoffs, it wasn’t just the Wood Brothers who celebrated. Although Matt DiBenedetto finished 32nd for St. Hilaire’s team that day, St. Hilaire says he was “hooting and hollering’’ when Blaney held off Kevin Harvick to win.

A victory for the Wood Brothers also was a victory for St. Hilaire’s team.

Go Fas Racing benefits because it leased its charter to the Wood Brothers before the season — something teams can do once in a five-year period.

The decision to lease the charter before this season was easy for St. Hilaire. Any team that finishes in the bottom three among charter teams for three consecutive years can lose its charter to NASCAR. Last year, Go Fas Racing finished in the bottom three among charter teams.

“I think NASCAR is pretty serious of the bottom three and you’re out,’’ St. Hilaire told NBC Sports at Chicagoland Speedway. “The marketability of one being in the bottom three two years in a row probably decreases. The first year, you’re the negotiator and the second year, they’re the negotiator and you’re trying to bail out to not be in the bottom three.’’

When St. Hilaire partnered with the Wood Brothers, he admits he thought about the extra money he could receive if the Wood Brothers made the playoffs.

Charters fund Cup teams in four different ways. There’s money for entering each event, race purse, points fund and historical performance.

St. Hilaire says his team received less than $100,000 last year from the historical category. He says that total could be close to $1 million based on how well Blaney does in the playoffs. Blaney is 10th after the first of three races in the opening round. The top 12 advance to the second round.

“I’m rooting for them,’’ St. Hilaire said of Blaney and the Wood Brothers.

For a team with about a budget of about $5.5 million, adding $1 million could increase the budget by nearly 20 percent.

“That’s all funds that we’ll use to race in the future and make us a better team,’’ said St. Hilaire, whose team ranks 33rd in the owner standings heading into Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The better Blaney does in the playoffs, the more valuable the charter becomes.

St. Hilaire, though, must decide what to do with the charter when it is returned after this season. He could keep it and take the money. Or he could sell the charter since it is worth more with the increase in the historical category.

There are a few teams that could be candidates for charters. The Wood Brothers won’t have one for next season after returning their charter to Go Fas Racing. Also, Team Penske will expand to a third car for Blaney and could use a charter. Already, JTG Daugherty has purchased a charter for the No. 37 of Chris Buescher for next season after leasing a charter from Roush Fenway Racing this year.

Should St. Hilaire sell his charter, he’ll lease one like he did this season. After leasing his charter to the Wood Brothers, St Hilaire leased a charter from Richard Petty Motorsports.

There could be many other options for St. Hilarie to lease charters next year.

“I just don’t see that being too hard to find,’’ St. Hilaire said. “We’re talking to about four people. They’re available.’’

He also said he would consider acquiring two charters to run a second team provided a driver can bring funding to the team.

Whatever St. Hilaire does with the charter, he knows what he wants to do with the expected extra money.

“We don’t even have an engineering package,’’ St. Hilaire said. “We’re checking old-fashioned tire temps, spring rates. Matt does a great job. (Crew chief Gene Nead) does a great job. That would be our next step, to get engineering help.’’

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Matt DiBenedetto to return to Go Fas Racing in 2018

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Matt DiBenedetto and crew chief Gene Nead have each agreed to a contract extension that will keep them at Go Fas Racing through next season, the team announced Saturday morning.

Both DiBenedetto and Nead joined the team before this season after working the previous two seasons together at BK Racing.

“I couldn’t be happier to sign this deal with Go Fas and the St. Hilaire family,” DiBenedetto said in a statement from the team. “Being involved in this family operation has been so much fun and we get a lot of pride out of improving their program together. Everything that they said they were going to do to our program, they did. It’s great to work with people who say they want to improve and do just that.
“Working with Gene for another season, and especially over the offseason, will allow us to rebuild some of our cars, get ahead on the 2018 season, and really make the most out of our team. Gene is one of the most intelligent guys in the garage area and is respected industry-wide. He knows how to make our cars faster with just about any budget. We already have great partners on board, and hopefully we can continue to add even more to show just how good we really can be.”
DiBenedetto, who is in his third season in Cup, is 31st in the points. He finished a season-best eighth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He placed ninth in the Daytona 500.

“I’m really happy to have Matt and Gene back next season,” car owner Archie St. Hilaire said in a statement. “We have improved overall by seven spots from last year, and we’re looking forward to picking up a couple more spots before the end of this season. Hopefully we’ll be working our way into the top 25 in 2018 with more help from existing and new sponsorship. All of the guys at Go Fas have worked their butts off this year at the shop and on the road and it’s really showing. We appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in this year.”

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Matt DiBenedetto will work with a familiar face at new team

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Go Fas Racing has reunited Matt DiBenedetto with crew chief Gene Nead for the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season, the team announced Thursday night.

Nead was DiBenedetto’s crew chief when both were at BK Racing last season.

“I am so fortunate to have Gene with me at Go Fas Racing,” DiBenedetto said in a statement from the team. “He has made me into a better all-around driver and his experience has taught me so much in the past year and a half. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the driver I am without him.

“We have a great relationship, and we are both extremely competitive. Gene is going to make a big difference in our program at Go Fas Racing and we all appreciate him coming on board.”

DiBenedetto finished 35th in the points last year with a career-best sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.

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