Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its driver-crew chief roster for the 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series season on Wednesday. It includes the addition of veteran Danny Stockman.
Stockman will be in charge of the No. 51 Toyota, which will be driven by Kyle Busch, Chandler Smith and more drivers to be announced at a later date.
Stockman was a long-time crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, most recently working with Austin Dillon in the Cup Series this season. He was Dillon’s crew chief when he won his titles in the Truck Series (2011) and Xfinity Series (2013).
Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will be paired with Christian Eckes on the No. 18 Toyota. Fugle worked on the No. 51 this year as it won six races, including all of Busch’s five wins and Greg Biffle‘s victory. Fugle has led KBM teams to five owner titles (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) and two driver titles (2015 and 2017).
Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Raphael Lessard‘s rookie season in the No. 4 Toyota. Hillman has two Truck Series titles, including Toyota’s first in 2006 with Todd Bodine.
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.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Christopher Bell‘s last NASCAR race of 2017 didn’t go well for the 22-year-old driver.
Driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota, Bell started third in the Xfinity Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but his engine gave out on Lap 78.
He finished 36th for the first DNF in Xfinity career, which only eight races old.
Bell’s spirits weren’t low for long.
“It’s disappointing to blow up, but once I got out of my firesuit and I looked at my phone, it was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m still a champion’,” Bell told NBC Sports Thursday during an event for NASCAR’s national touring series champions at Top Golf in Charlotte.
The night before his engine blew, Bell clinched the Camping World Truck Series championship. It’s his first NASCAR title in his second full-time year in the series.
The native of Norman, Oklahoma, reached the championship race in both of his full-time seasons driving the No. 4 Toyota. This time around, Bell reached the Championship 4 off five wins, 15 top fives and 21 top 10s.
Bell will accept his championship tonight at the Xfinity and Truck Series Awards Banquet in Charlotte. Bell expects his champion’s speech will be the “most uncomfortable part” of the evening.
“Just trying to concentrate on what I want to say,” Bell said. “I don’t want to spell it out and not make it heart-felt whenever I get up there. At the same time I need a guide to follow along and I think I’ve got a pretty good guide.”
While he drove the No. 4 for KBM this season, his guide in the cockpit was crew chief Rudy Fugle. It was Fugle who taught Bell what he needed in a race car to win races.
Bell only won a single race in his rookie year with Jerry Baxter.
“Before Rudy, I didn’t really know what I needed,” Bell said. “I just was looking for lap time. Looking for lap time in practice is different from what you need to be able to race. I feel like Rudy did an excellent job of teaching me that.”
Now comes the next level.
Bell will compete full-time for JGR in the Xfinity Series next year driving the No. 20 Toyota after his eight races in 2017, which included a win at Kansas Speedway in October.
Bell has been partnered with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, who has spent the last six seasons in the Cup Series. The last five of those were with Matt Kenseth. Together they won 14 races.
Ratcliffe has been a NASCAR crew chief since 2000 when he worked with Casey Atwood in the Xfinity Series.
“I haven’t been around Jason very much,” Bell said. “I was able to have lunch with him a couple of weeks ago and this week I got to spend a little bit of time with him and kind of go over his priorities and my priorities going into next year. He’s a super switched-on guy. There’s nobody else I’d rather have. To be able to use his expertise, his knowledge, he’s been there, done that. That’s been really good for a young driver like myself and I’m going to lean on that a lot next year.”
What are Ratcliff’s priorities?
“From him going Cup racing for so long, he was able to prioritize where you need to be good, what we need to focus on,” Bell said. “He’s really big on restarts, qualifying, making sure I maximize pit road speeds and stuff like that. Those are areas we need to really focus on.”
Those eight races helped Bell get a grasp of the lower downforce in Xfinity cars, the series’ longer races and its deeper fields of talent.
“I feel like that took a lot of pressure off me going into 2018, knowing that I can do it,” Bell said. “Proving to myself that I can do it. Also proving to JGR. They took a chance on me by hiring me to run the full season. I’m glad I was able to win early on in my Xfinity career and prove to them I can do it.”
With his move up the ladder in 2018, Bell will be leaving Kyle Busch Motorsports, his racing home of four years as he transitioned from dirt racing to pavement.
“I’ve been at Kyle Busch Motorsports a very long time now,” Bell said. “I think that’s something that most people don’t understand. I’ve been pavement racing for four years now, four years off-and-on. All four of those years I’ve spent at Kyle Busch Motorsports. So I’ve gotten to know almost every single person in that shop by name and have a relationship of some kind with the majority of the people in that shop, so that’s what I’m going to miss the most about the Truck Series.”
Bell still has time before his Xfinity career gets fully underway in Daytona. He has a slate of dirt races on his schedule, including the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in early January.
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.