Report: Longtime engineer Chip Bolin out at Roush Fenway Racing


In what some may consider a big surprise – or perhaps a sign of several more departures to come – long time engineer Chip Bolin has been released by Roush Fenway Racing.

According to, the departure of Bolin, 40, from RFR was confirmed Thursday by the company.

Bolin’s departure could be a signal that an even greater shakeup may be brewing, particularly involving drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who are both in the final year of their respective contracts with RFR.

Bolin had been with RFR for 16 years, coming to the organization in 1998 after serving an internship with Andy Petree Racing. He joined the company at about the same time as Bob Osborne, who eventually went on to be Edwards’ crew chief.

Together, Bolin and Osborne formed what would become the engineering department for what was then Roush Racing.

Although he was involved with most Roush teams at one point or other in his career, Bolin is known most for his time with Matt Kenseth’s team, first as team engineer beginning in 1999.

Kenseth won the final Winston Cup championship in 2003 with Robbie Reiser as crew chief and Bolin as chief engineer.

In 2007, Bolin became Kenseth’s crew chief when now-RFR general manager Reiser was promoted into the team’s front office.

Although Ford has won four of the first 11 Sprint Cup races this season, three of those wins have come from rival Team Penske. Edwards is the only driver of the three Sprint Cup pilots at RFR to have won a race this season, having done so at Bristol in March.

Edwards is currently ranked fifth in the Sprint Cup standings, while Biffle is ninth. Both drivers are in the final year of their current contracts with RFR.

Biffle has stated several times that he plans on returning to the RFR camp, but there’s still some uncertainty that will happen.

As for Edwards, he is not saying one way or other whether he’ll come back to RFR or not. Whether Edwards stays or leaves could have a major impact upon whether Biffle also stays or goes – and if he does go, will his options be limited if Edwards also exits the organization at season’s end.

The third RFR driver in the Sprint Cup Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is currently ranked 25th and has just one top-five finish this season.

Follow me @Jerry Bonkowski

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski