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Kyle Busch Motorsports makes crew chief changes for next three Truck races

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Kyle Busch Motorsports has announced changes to its crew chief lineup for the next three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races beginning this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Marcus Richmond will move from Todd Gilliland‘s No. 4 truck to the No. 46 team for its next two events: at Iowa Speedway with Riley Herbst and at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway with Chandler Smith.

Wes Ward, a shop foreman at KBM, will serve as Gilliland’s interim crew chief this week at Texas.

Richmond has been Gilliland’s crew chief since last year. Through eight races this season the No. 4 team has just one top five (Kansas) and three top 10s, with two finishes in seventh. Gilliland has led only eight laps, including seven in the last race at Charlotte.

Michael Shelton, who served as the crew chief for the No. 46 team in its limited schedule this season, will serve as interim crew chief for Gilliland at Gateway and Iowa.

The No. 46 truck has made only three starts, with Herbst earning a best finish of ninth at Kansas.

Kyle Busch Motorsports unveils Truck Series crew chief, driver lineup for 2019

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Kyle Busch Motorsports on Tuesday unveiled its crew chief lineup for its three full-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series teams in 2019:

* Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will oversee the No. 51 Toyota Tundra. Team owner Kyle Busch will compete in five races, with other drivers yet to be announced for the other races on the schedule.

Fugle has led KBM teams to four owner’s championships in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as driver championships for Erik Jones in 2015 and Christopher Bell in 2017.

In 114 races with KBM, Fugle has called the signals for 22 wins, 20 poles, 57 top fives and 71 top-10 finishes among a variety of drivers. He’s coming off a 2018 season that saw driver Noah Gragson earn one win, a series-leading six poles, eight top fives and 17 top-10 finishes en route to a second-place finish in the series.

* Mike Hillman will serve as crew chief for the No. 18 Tundra and driver Harrison Burton. Hillman is a two-time Truck champion crew chief over 11 seasons. He has earned 22 wins and 19 poles.

Burton has one pole, four top fives and seven top-10 finishes – with an average finish of 6.3 in nine starts with Hillman as crew chief.

* Marcus Richmond will return as crew chief of the No. 4 Tundra and driver Todd Gilliland. Richmond has spent 13 seasons and 265 races as a Truck Series crew chief, collecting 10 wins, 17 poles, 61 top-five and 129 top-10 finishes with six different drivers (Ty Dillon, Noah Gragson, Kevin Harvick, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter and Dennis Setzer).

Last season, Richmond’s team — including Gilliland in 19 events and two other drivers — had three poles, 305 laps led, five top fives and nine top-10 finishes.

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NASCAR suspends three team members but only for Truck Series

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NASCAR suspended three members of Kyle Busch’s Camping World Series Truck team Wednesday because a wheel came off the truck during last weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

However, the three-race suspensions are only for the Truck series instead of across all three national series.

LONG: NASCAR shows common sense has a place in dispensing punishment

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, hinted Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that series officials were looking at making such suspensions for the series the infraction occurred instead of across all three national series.

The matter became an issue because two of Busch’s pit crew members work for other teams in other series.

Rear tire changer Coleman Dollarhide also is a rear tire changer on Cole Custer’s Xfinity team and Kurt Busch’s Cup team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Jack man Ernie Pierce also has that role for Clint Bowyer’s Cup team at SHR.

The suspensions to Dollarhide and Pierce will not impact their ability to work in Xfinity and Cup.

Also suspended was Marcus Richmond, crew chief for Kyle Busch’s truck team.

NASCAR also announced Wednesday:

A $10,000 fine to crew chief Rodney Childers because Kevin Harvick’s winning Cup car had one lug nut not secured after the Atlanta race.

$5,000 fines each to crew chief Tim Brown (of the No. 52 team of David Starr) and Mike Shiplett (of the No. 42 team of John Hunter Nemechek) because each team had a lug nut not secured after the Xfinity race.

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NASCAR hints that pit crew suspensions could be for particular series only

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A NASCAR executive hinted Monday that members of Kyle Busch’s Camping World Truck pit crew will be suspended after a tire came off Busch’s vehicle last weekend at Atlanta but that the suspensions likely won’t carry over to other series.

That is an important distinction because members of Busch’s crew work as a pit crew in other series.

Busch’s chances for winning the Truck race ended on a stop late in Saturday’s race. The team intended to change all four tires but had trouble with the right front tire. Once it was secured, Busch exited the pit stall but left rear lug nuts already had been removed. Shortly after exiting pit road, the left rear tire came off.

The Camping World Truck Series Rule Book states that “any loss or separation of an improperly installed tire(s)/wheel(s) from the vehicle after exiting the team’s assigned pit box will result in a three-race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer of the lost wheel and the jack man.’’

That would mean a three-race suspension for crew chief Marcus Richmond, rear tire changer Coleman Dollarhide and jack man Ernie Pierce.

Dollarhide also is a rear tire changer on Cole Custer’s Xfinity team and Kurt Busch’s Cup team, according to team rosters. Pierce is a jack man for Clint Bowyer’s Cup team.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, discussed the issue Monday on“The Morning Drive” and how NASCAR could react this week. 

“The rule is clear in terms of the suspension that occurs,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “That is one of our major safety violations that we have in the rulebook and it’s really understood by the competitors.

“Where we took a look at that is around the rosters and the roster limitations we have on all three series. In the past, that’s been something that we’ve had that if you were suspended for that violation it carried across all three of our national series.

“I think that’s really the discussion, not so much will they be penalized — they will — it’s should it just apply to the Camping World Truck Series. I think that’s where we’re leaning but (series officials) wanted to take the time to get through the weekend and have that dialogue internally.

“We want to be as fair as we can. We want the penalty obviously to have some teeth into it. We think it does in terms of the suspension. We want to make sure it possibly just applies to that series and who is working on that race.’’

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Kyle Busch Motorsports sets crew chief lineup

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Marcus Richmond joins Kyle Busch Motorsports’ crew chief lineup, the organization announced Wednesday. He’ll be paired with Noah Gragson on the team’s No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Series entry.

Richmond, whose teams have recorded at least one win every year since 2012, was at JR Motorsports last year with Cole Custer for the final 16 races. His single 2016 win came with Johnny Sauter in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Crew chiefs Rudy Fugle and Kevin Manion return to Kyle Busch Motorsports. Fugle, who has guided his team to the owner’s championship each of the past three seasons – and led Erik Jones to the driver’s title in 2015 – will work with Christopher Bell on the No. 4 team. Manion returns to the No. 51 team and will work with Kyle Busch, Myatt Snider, Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton.