Roush Fenway Racing shakes up crew chief roster for 2015 season
Roush Fenway Racing has announced its crew chief lineup for the 2015 season in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.
As expected, Matt Puccia returns to lead Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Sprint Cup team for a fourth consecutive year. Biffle has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in each of his three seasons with Puccia atop his pit box.
Longtime Roush Fenway crew chief Bob Osborne, who last worked with former RFR driver Carl Edwards, will call the shots for Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 team. Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, is slated to run his first full Sprint Cup season for Roush Fenway after competing on a part-time basis in the Sprint Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing since 2011.
Meanwhile, former RFR No. 99 team head engineer Nick Sandler has been promoted to the role of crew chief on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 team. Mike Kelley, who guided Stenhouse to two Nationwide Series championships and has been Stenhouse’s crew chief in each of the driver’s two Sprint Cup seasons, has been named Stenhouse’s car chief for the upcoming season.
"We are excited about our 2015 crew chief lineup," said team co-owner Jack Roush in a team release on Tuesday. "Much like our driver lineup, our crew chief assembly features a quality mix of veteran leadership and youthful insight. We feel this lineup, combined with the addition of Kevin Kidd to oversee our Sprint Cup efforts, is a big step forward in the direction of placing our teams up front and contending week-in and week-out."
Roush, who founded RFR in 1988, has high hopes for the driver-crew chief combinations coming off a season in which the company made the Chase with Biffle and Edwards but won just two races and witnessed Edwards decide to leave for Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end.
"We have seen proven results with Matt Puccia and Greg Biffle and we will look to continue to build on that moving into 2015," Roush said. "And we are excited about the elevation of Nick Sandler to crew chief on the No. 17. Nick has a strong engineering background with the company and his time working hand-in-hand with Jimmy Fennig over the past few seasons will prove invaluable as he takes the helm of the No. 17.
"We are also excited to have Mike Kelley continue with the No. 17 team as the car chief. Mike has been an integral part of Ricky’s success and in addition to his championships in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, has championship experience as a car chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."
In addition to Tuesday’s crew chief announcements, Roush Fenway named veteran crew chief Fennig as the organization’s research and development coordinator. Fennig, who most recently served as crew chief on Edwards’ No. 99 team, amassed 36 career wins as a crew chief and was the crew chief during Kurt Busch’s 2004 championship season at RFR. Fennig will now play an integral role in the direction of the team’s car builds.
"I am personally excited to have Jimmy in this new role," said Roush. "Jimmy’s experience is unparalleled in our sport, and I anticipate his input in this new role will have a major influence in a positive direction across the board with all of our team’s going forward."
On the Xfinity Series side, Phil Gould will lead RFR newcomer Elliott Sadler’s No. 1 One Main Financial team in 2015. Gould worked with Brian Scott the past two seasons, guiding the No. 2 team to a fourth-place finish in the final standings last season. Meanwhile, Seth Barbour and Scott Graves will return to guide the No. 16 and No. 60 Xfinity Series teams of drivers Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher, respectively. Chad Norris, who served as crew chief for the No. 6 Xfinity Series team last season, will sit atop the No. 6 pit box for RFR newcomer Bubba Wallace.
"We are pleased to have Phil Gould join the team along with Elliott and the No. 1 One Main Financial team," said Roush. "In addition, with a year of working together under their belts, we will look forward to the continued progress of Seth Barbour with Ryan Reed and, of course, the team of Scott Graves and Chris Buescher. In addition, teaming a veteran crew chief like Chad Norris, with a young talented driver like Bubba Wallace should yield exciting results."