Penske names Nationwide crew chief

Veteran crew chief Greg Erwin is joining Penske Racing.

Erwin will oversee the No. 12 NASCAR Nationwide Series team and driver Sam Hornish Jr., who embarks on his second full season on that tour.

“It is an honor to be selected as the crew chief of the No. 12 Ford Mustang,” Erwin said in a release. “I would like to thank Roger Penske and everyone at Penske Racing for the opportunity to be a part of this championship-caliber team. I look forward to working hard to build a team that consistently wins races and competes for championships.”

Hornish, 33, finished fourth in the NNS points standings. Under the direction of crew chief Chad Walter, he posted 10 top fives, 22 top 10s and an average finish of 9.7. Walter has been released.

Erwin’s relationship with Ford Racing with benefit Penske Racing as it returns to the manufacturer’s camp.

At Roush Fenway Racing, Erwin led Greg Biffle to five victories and three Chase for the Sprint Cup berths. He moved to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011 to work with AJ Allmendinger and remained with the company to oversee the No. 43 Ford until Mike Ford replaced him in May. Allmendinger was attempting to recruit his former crew chief before he was released from Penske Racing earlier this year.

Postseason downsizing continues

Due to a lack of sponsorship, JR Motorsports was forced to lay off employees on Tuesday.

While the organization announced the addition of Greg Ives as Regan Smith’s crew chief for the No. 5 JRM Chevrolet in 2013, a lack of funding has caused the company to “scale back,” general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller confirmed late Tuesday.

In an earlier release, the company announced plans to “streamline” – with a full-time squad for Smith and a part-time team with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and select drivers. While will back the No. 5 Chevrolet, the sponsorship quest continues for a second full effort.

Cole Whitt, 21, who finished seventh in the Nationwide Series points standings, remains in the picture. Danica Patrick and the sponsorship move to the Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing full time for 2013. Patrick’s representation is still shopping the Nationwide portion of her program.

Still, the arrival of Ives, a former team engineer with Jimmie Johnson, should create a closer technological bond with Hendrick Motorsports.

“We continue to be excited about the changes within our organization to impact our performance positively. Greg’s addition is definitely a step in that direction,” Earnhardt Miller said.