Shayne Pipala

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Two Cup playoff teams make pit crew changes for Darlington

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – The playoff teams of Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones each will have a different pit crew lineup for Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Michael Johnson will be the rear tire changer for Harvick’s team, replacing Daniel Smith this weekend. It will be Johnson’s first weekend with the team, which has won a series-high seven points races and also won the All-Star Race this season. This is the team’s second change with the pit crew this year. Shayne Pipala became the team’s front tire changer at New Hampshire in July.

Erik Jones’ pit crew has two changes this weekend. Brad Donaghy will be the team’s tire carrier, replacing Matt Ver Meer. Trey Burklin will be the team’s jackman, replacing Bailey Walker. These are the first changes to the Joe Gibbs Racing team’s pit crew this year.

“This is the time to make changes for the (playoffs) and evaluate it,” crew chief Chris Gayle told NBC Sports of the moves.

Also, the pit crew for Daniel Suarez, who is seeking to make the playoffs, will have a change. Brian Eastland will be the new front tire changer, replacing Clay Robinson on the Joe Gibbs Racing team. This is the second change of the pit crew this season for the team. Graham Molatch became the team’s jackman at Pocono in June. He replaced Burklin, who started the season as that team’s jackman.

 

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing makes pit crew changes to all four Cup teams

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Stewart-Haas Racing has made changes to all four of its pit crews heading into Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NBC Sports has confirmed.

The changes come with two of the organization’s four teams qualified for the playoffs through wins — Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer — and Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola in position to make the playoffs via points.

The changes:

— Shayne Pipala becomes the front tire changer for Harvick’s team. He replaces Eric Maycroft, who moves to Michael McDowell’s team (Stewart-Haas Racing provides the pit crew for that Front Row Motorsports team).

— Ira Jo Hussey becomes the front tire changer for Bowyer’s team. He replaces Daniel Coffey.

— Matt Holzbaur becomes the tire carrier for Bowyer’s team. He replaces Josh Sobecki. Holzbaur had been with Michael McDowell’s team.

— Daniel Coffey moves to Almirola’s team as front tire changer. Coffey replaces Ryan Mulder.

— Ryan Mulder moves to Busch’s team as front tire changer. He replaces Shayne Pipala.

The changes come after Bowyer expressed his displeasure with his pit crew’s performance last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, saying:

“Can’t … maintain the position one … damn time on pit road. It’s about … ridiculous. I’m tired of it.

“I’ve had enough. Three spots every … damn time I come down pit road.”

At Chicagoland, Harvick led going into the final pit stop but got beat by Kyle Busch, who went on to win the race. Harvick finished third.

Bowyer addressed his pit crew change on Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR’s Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

“If you look at Stewart-Haas’ performance at any given race track, if we ever did have a weak link, it’s been documented it’s in that area,” Bowyer said. “We have time to fix that. We have time to correct it, whether it’s coaching or a different process. This is still a relatively new process for everybody in the garage area that we’re doing one less guy and everything else. The guys are still learning. No different than anything else in life, you’re only as good as the people around you and sometime you just don’t get lined up with the right team or whatever the case may be.

Due to a busy schedule with testing this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway and media obligations, Bowyer said he hasn’t been to the shop and doesn’t know “what all’s been changed.”

“I’m excited to see how the changes change my program, not only mine, but the 41 and the 4,” Bowyer said. “We’ve all had some changes, some minor changes, nothing’s major. I don’t think we have a major problem. We just got to get it nipped in the bud here with seven races to go before the pay window opens in the playoffs.”

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