Crew chief changes on the way at Joe Gibbs Racing

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A fourth Sprint Cup team at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 will also bring about a shuffle in the team’s roster of crew chiefs.

Today at JGR, team owner Joe Gibbs confirmed that the team has already decided on which CCs will be paired up with drivers Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and the incoming Carl Edwards.

However, Gibbs held off on announcing those details, instead saying that they will emerge within the next couple of weeks.

As of now, Kenseth is guided by Jason Ratcliff; Hamlin by Darian Grubb; and Busch by Dave Rogers.

Grubb recently returned to Hamlin’s pit box following a six-race suspension due to penalties from the Brickyard 400 in July, while Busch and Rogers are trying to move forward following their radio blow-up at Bristol.

The Busch-Rogers tandem has been in place since 2010, while Hamlin and Grubb have been together since 2012. Kenseth and Ratcliff joined forces when the former migrated from Roush Fenway Racing to JGR in 2013.

“The drivers have strong feelings who they think they match up with,” Gibbs said according to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News. “You’ve got the crew chiefs, you’ve got the drivers and then all the rest of us are trying to work through that [to make the decision].

“The drivers run the show. They make all the money. One thing’s for sure — in 22 years [I’ve been an owner], you see that drivers have got to believe in that crew chief and the crew chief has got to believe in the driver. Over the years, that’s a very hard thing to keep together.”

One thing to bear in mind is that the changes could yield a promotion for Adam Stevens, who serves as CC for JGR’s No. 54 Nationwide Series program.

Stevens has helped the No. 54 earn four Nationwide wins this year – three with Busch, one with Sam Hornish Jr. – and has earned 16 of his 28 Nationwide wins overall with Busch behind the wheel.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.