Lance Munksgard, pit crew coach for the teams of Jimmie Johnson (above) and Dale Earnhardt Jr., has left Hendrick Motorsports to work in his family's business in Texas. (Photo courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)

Veteran pit crew coach Lance Munksgard leaves Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR


One of the most effective and successful pit crew coaches in the business has not only left Hendrick Motorsports, he’s also left NASCAR.

Lance Munksgard, who had served as coach for the pit crews of both Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. since November 2011, has relocated to Texas to work in a family member’s business, according to

Munksgard’s last race with HMS was two weeks ago at Darlington, where Earnhardt finished second and Johnson was third to race winner Kevin Harvick.

Greg Morin, Munksgard’s counterpart for the teams of Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, and Chris Krieg, who had been Munksgard’s assistant, will oversee the pit crews of the No. 48 and 88 on an interim basis until a replacement for Munksgard can be hired.

According to, Munksgard’s career began as a tire carrier in 2002 and became a full-time pit crew coach the following year. Among his stops prior to HMS were with Michael Waltrip Racing and the now-defunct Red Bull Racing.

During his career, Munksgard was a part of teams that won 19 Sprint Cup races, a Pit Crew Challenge championship, Daytona 500 wins in 2013 with Johnson and this year with Earnhardt, and was also a key member of Johnson’s sixth Cup championship team last season.

“I was blessed to have been able to live a dream of working with the best mechanics and pit crew members in NASCAR over the years, which was an unforgettable experience,” Munksgard told “I couldn’t have asked for a better organization than HMS to finish my NASCAR career.

“HMS is a truly professional company that starts from Mr. Hendrick down through the management, crew chiefs, and through the pit crews. It was a true pleasure to work with a strong coaching staff and pit crew members at HMS and watch them progress each week. I will truly miss the competition on pit road each week and wish all the guys on pit road the best of luck.”

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IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.