Marty Gaunt

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Gaunt Brothers Racing hires technical director

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Nick Ollila has joined Gaunt Brothers Racing as its technical director, the team announced Monday.

Ollila will oversee the engineering department for the Cup Series team that fields Daniel Suarez‘ No. 96 Toyota.

A native of Warren, Michigan, Ollila arrives at Gaunt Brothers Racing after a three-year stint as the technical director for Kelly Racing in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. His arrival comes ahead of the return of NASCAR racing on May 17 at Darlington Raceway.

“Nick brings considerable insight into what we’re doing with our current inventory of race cars and what we’ll be doing with our NextGen car in 2022,” Marty Gaunt, president and CEO of Gaunt Brothers Racing, said in a press release. “He has deep experience in all forms of motorsports, specifically in embracing technology and managing people. Nick also has a strong rapport with our partner Toyota, as many of the people he worked with when he was at Red Bull are the same people there today. He’ll be able to hit the ground running, which is good, because with two to three races a week, we’re all going to be running.”

This is a return to NASCAR for Ollila, whose career began in 1976 and included a stint as drivetrain specialist at Rod Osterlund Racing in 1980 when Dale Earnhardt won his first championship.

In 1997, he worked with Gaunt at Kranefuss-Haas Racing. Gaunt was the general manager of the Cup Series team and Ollila was its chief engineer. Their paths crossed again 10 years later at Red Bull Racing, where Gaunt was the general manager and Ollila was the chief aerodynamicist.

“Motorsports is my passion, and I’m proud to have turned it into a career,” Ollila said in a press release. “I’ve spent time in a variety of racing series, but NASCAR is the one that intrigues me the most. The level of competition is unmatched, so success is very satisfying. I’ve known and worked with Marty Gaunt and many of the people at Gaunt Brothers Racing for years. They’ve got a great foundation and they’re building for the future, and I’m very happy to be a part of shaping that future.”

This is Gaunt Brothers Racing’s first full-time season in the Cup Series. Suarez is 31st in the point standings through four races. The team failed to make the Daytona 500 but has run in the other three races.

Parker Kligerman will not return to No. 96 Cup car

Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images
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Parker Kligerman said Friday that he will not drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing this season.

Kligerman ran 14 races for the team last year, finishing a season-high 15th in the Daytona 500 and also in the fall Talladega playoff race. Kligerman ran four races with the team in 2018, placing a season-best 23rd at Sonoma.

“It was a super cool opportunity,” Kligerman told NBC Sports of driving for Gaunt Brothers Racing. “I didn’t think I was going to get a second shot at Cup. Then I had that opportunity at the Coke 600 (in 2018 with the team) and last year we did way more races than I ever thought we would do and got to be a part of the Toyota family.

“I felt like we really, as race team, improved and improved and improved and got to where our last race at Texas was one of our best races of the year. We were just solid, speed-wise and execution and all that stuff. It was cool to see that and be a part of that. That’s why I did that. I felt like we were building something.

“(Owner Marty Gaunt) has been great to me, super open to the process in the offseason. In my position, being a driver that doesn’t have any personal funding, you always know, especially being a part-time driver, you’re on borrowed time. I’m very happy for them. I wish them all the best.”

Kligerman said he does not have any rides for 2020 in any of NASCAR national series. Kligerman is a NASCAR on NBC broadcaster and co-host of the show “Proving Grounds” on NBCSN.

The team has not announced its plans for the 2020 season. Daniel Suarez, linked to the team, has not announced his plans for this year after losing his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing after last season.   

Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, Kennington, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.