NASCAR: Kyle Busch’s new crew chief talks about jump to Sprint Cup

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Yesterday, Joe Gibbs Racing finally revealed its crew chief roster for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It was largely a shuffle, as Darian Grubb and Dave Rogers switched cars while Jason Ratcliff stayed put with Matt Kenseth.

However, there is one newcomer to the four-car fold in Adam Stevens. But while Stevens will be making his Cup debut in 2015, he’s a very familiar face to the driver he’ll be working with: Kyle Busch.

Stevens has collected 31 wins as a crew chief for JGR’s NASCAR XFINITY Series program over the last four years. 19 of them have come over the last two seasons alone from working with Busch; after racking up a staggering 12 wins together in 2013, the duo followed up with seven more this past year.

In an interview today on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Stevens touched on how he and “Rowdy” quickly became a successful pair.

“Kyle and I, we have a little bit of history now of building some communication and some success behind us,” he said. “The cool thing about him and I is we look at race cars the same way, and immediately when we started working together, his feedback and what I’m thinking and how I think race cars work just seemed to mesh really well.

“And in our brief history [together], it’s added up to quite a few wins. We’re hoping to see if we can carry some of that into the Cup Series.”

Stevens will be counted on to help JGR improve on a mixed 2014 season. All three JGR pilots – Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin – made the Chase and Hamlin went on to be part of the Championship 4 at Homestead. However, only Busch and Hamlin could muster a single win apiece partly due to Toyota’s relative lack of power.

If TRD can solve their power issues, that will be one less thing for Stevens to worry about as he adapts to working on Sundays.

He’ll no longer have to game plan around a tire limit like he had to in the XFINITY Series, and with the longer races, he’ll have more pit stops to dial in Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota.

But he figures it still won’t be easier to do his job in the top level of the sport.

“There are certain aspects of the race that will make it a little bit more easier, comparatively,” he said to SiriusXM. “But the [Cup] races as a whole – being so much longer, the track conditions, and the preferred line and handling conditions you’re fighting – tend to change a lot more through the race.

“You’re trading one set of problems – managing your tire sets – for another set of problems, which is managing changing track conditions.”

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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