Bubba Wallace will have a new crew chief in 2019 with Drew Blickensderfer leaving to take the same position with Front Row Motorsports.
Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement it will announce a new crew chief “at the appropriate time.” Meanwhile competition director Philippe Lopez will lead the No. 43 team’s efforts to prepare for the season.
Wallace finished the 2018 season 28th in points. He earned three top 10s, including second place in the Daytona 500.
Blickensderfer, who was with RPM since 2012, heads to Front Row Motorsports, which announced its crew chief lineup Wednesday.
Blickensderfer will be paired with Michael McDowell on the No. 34 Ford. Blickensderfer replaces Derrick Finley, who will serve as FRM’s technical director.
Mike Kelley joins FRM to crew chief rookie Matt Tifft and the No. 36 Ford. Kelley was previously with Roush Fenway Racing where he was crew chief on the No. 60 Xfinity car. Kelley is a two-time Xfinity champion, winning with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012.
Seth Barbour will return for his second full season as crew chief on David Ragan‘s No. 38 Ford. He joined the team in the middle of the 2017 season as a crew chief for Landon Cassill.
Fans are invited to take part in a special promotion that will see them design and have their name emblazoned upon Bubba Wallace No. 43 Chevrolet for the March 17 Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Fans can submit designs for the car Wallace will drive in the race. Once the final design is selected, fans will have their names on the car. A diecast model will also be produced with fan’s names on it and then sent to all who participate in the promotion.
The promotion is tied in with a one-race sponsorship for the event from Plan B Sales and Marketing. Fans can go to www.PlanBSales.com for instructions on how to participate, according to a Richard Petty Motorsports media release.
“I love it when we can get fans involved and be a part of the team,” Wallace said in a media release. “Richard Petty Motorsports and Plan B Sales really care about getting fans involved and feeling like they are a part of the team.
“This program is something cool and it’s easy to do. It’s an easy way to get a cool No. 43 diecast with your name on it and watch it race at California.”
Plan B Sales and Marketing is a leading producer of diecast models in motorsports.
“We have been with Bubba since the beginning of his career,” Plan B co-owner Brent Powell said. “When he embarked on his trek to success after racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Bubba actually signed his first diecast in our parking lot.
“We’ve maintained a relationship with him throughout the years and have always enjoyed having him as an ambassador. He is a loyal supporter of our brand and products.”
This promotion is similar to Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s last Mountain Dew Cup car at Talladega Superspeedway in 2017, when fan’s names were placed on his Chevrolet.
“Fans play a pivotal role in our company and in the sport as a whole,” Powell said. “That notion drove us to make sure this partnership interacted with them – whether it be through the paint scheme design, or the addition of their names on the car at the event at Auto Club Speedway.”
The 2019 NASCAR season is now within view as we have entered the month of January.
That means a lot of highly anticipated changes in the sport will be visible on track.
Before we get to what to expect from each team specifically, here’s what Cup teams will be dealing with in 2019.
Inspired by what was used in the 2018 All-Star Race, the new rules package will feature a tapered spacer to control the engines instead of a restrictor plate. Teams will have 550 horsepower at tracks 1.33 miles and larger and 750 horsepower at tracks shorter than 1.33 miles.
Some crew chiefs, including Cole Pearn, have said the new package could result in racing that resembles what is seen in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
One team that will not be present this year is Furniture Row Racing, which ceased operations on its No. 78 Toyota after 2018 due to a lack of sponsorship.
Rick Ware Racing will field two cars with two charters. It has not announced drivers for either car.
Spire Sports + Entertainment will field the No. 77 with a charter purchased from Furniture Row Racing. A driver has not been announced.
Obaika Racing will field rookie Tanner Berryhill in the No. 97 in its first full-time season.
(Drivers are listed in order of their car number with where they finished in the points last year)
What’s new: Cassill is slated to compete full-time for StarCom Racing, which bought a charter from Richard Childress Racing. Cassill, with 29 starts, is the only driver with more than seven for the team.
What’s the same: StarCom will again compete with a Chevrolet model in its second full season of competition.
What’s new: Kurt Busch moves from Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Jamie McMurray, who drove the No. 1 for nine years. McMurray will be an analyst for Fox Sports. CGR will be the sixth team Busch has competed for in Cup.
What’s the same: Matt McCall is back to crew chief the No. 1 after four years with McMurray.
What’s the same: Crew chief Paul Wolfe and Keselowski enter their ninth season together. With the separation of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, that makes Wolfe and Keselowski the longest-tenured driver/crew chief pairing in the series.
What’s new: Dillon will have Danny Stockman Jr. as his crew chief, replacing Justin Alexander. Stockman is Dillon’s fourth crew chief in six full-time seasons in Cup. Dillon won a Xfinity and Truck Series title Stockman. Dillon will also have a new teammate in Daniel Hemric.
What’s the same: Dillon’s scheme for the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona will be a tribute to Dale Earnhardt’s scheme in the 1998 All-Star Race.
What’s new: Will enter his sophomore season under the guidance of Chad Knaus, the most successful active crew chief in NASCAR. This will be Byron’s first season in NASCAR without rookie stripes after previously competing in Xfinity and the Truck Series for just one season each.
What’s the same: Jeff Gordon is still the last (and only) driver to win in the No. 24.
What’s the same: Greg Ives returns as Bowman’s crew chief on the No. 88 Chevrolet.
No. 95 Matt DiBenedetto (29th)
What’s new: DiBenedetto replaced Kasey Kahne at Leavine Family Racing after two years at Go Fas Racing. LFR will compete under the Toyota banner after being a Chevrolet team. Mike Wheeler will crew chief the No. 95.
What’s the same: 2019 will be LFR’s fourth full-time season in Cup. The team is winless since it first went Cup racing in 2011.
Click n’ Close will not return as a sponsor of Bubba Wallace‘s No. 43 Chevrolet in 2019, Richard Petty Motorsports has confirmed to NBC Sports.
The team confirmed a report by the SportsBusiness Journal’s Adam Stern that the sponsor deal ended as a result of executive changes at Click n’ Close and a changed business model.
NASCAR also confirmed that Click n’ Close’s relationship as the official mortgage provider of NASCAR has been terminated.
Click n’ Close sponsored Wallace in three points races this season, beginning with the Daytona 500 and Wallace’s historic second-place finish in the “Great American Race.” It was on the No. 43 for the March race at ISM Raceway and the April 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway where Wallace earned his second of three top 10s this season.
Richard Petty Motorsports and World Wide Technology (WWT) announced Thursday they will extend their partnership into 2019. The agreement includes multi-race primary sponsorship and associate sponsorship on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet as well as a technological alliance.
WWT was also named the official Technology and Analytics Partner of RPM.
The number of races for which they will serve as primary sponsor and the race dates will be announced at a later date. WWT served as primary sponsor seven times in 2018 including five consecutive races from the Brickyard 400 through Dover’s fall race.
“Our partnership with WWT allows us to use our own data in a way that is most useful for us,” said Wallace in a press release. “This isn’t something that is shared, but rather data that (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) and our engineers now use during the race weekend and the actual race itself.
“This season was just the beginning for WWT, and I think we are just scratching the surface of their capabilities. They are also giving us the sponsorship that we need to be better on the track – that’s something that we’re all looking forward to. They are a great company and I’m looking forward to working with WWT more in 2019.”
In 2018, WWT created a proprietary dashboard that contributed to a seven percent increase in average running position and a 10 percent increase in the average finishing position, according to the release. Utilizing this data allowed RPM to make better decisions regarding their pit stop strategies.
“In a short time, we’ve seen the immediate impact World Wide Technology can make on our race program with their big data analytics,” said Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer, Richard Petty Motorsports. “Their continued partnership will have a significant impact on the performance of our race team through data analytics, application enhancements and creation of proprietary performance focused applications.”