Long-time Sprint Cup crew chief Donnie Wingo will have a new team and driver to work with in 2015.
Motorsport.com’s Lee Spencer reports that Wingo, who most recently worked with the Wood Brothers, will become crew chief for David Gilliland and the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports program.
Gilliland finished 30th in the Sprint Cup points standings in 2014. He finished the year with interim crew chief Jay Guy following the release of Frank Kerr in October.
“It’s a little different opportunity than what I’ve had lately, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Wingo told Spencer. “I’m looking forward to working with David. I think he has a lot of talent.
“He’s been great at restrictor plate track and road courses, two areas where I’ve had success in the past. We need to work on the intermediate package a bit, but I’m looking forward to help building the program.”
With the Wood Brothers, Wingo guided Trevor Bayne (now at Roush Fenway Racing) and the No. 21 Ford Fusion in its part-time schedule over the last four years.
In a total of 12 Cup starts in 2014, Bayne’s best finishes were a pair of 19th-place results at Texas and Michigan. Their biggest accomplishment together was Bayne’s shock victory in the 2011 Daytona 500, which was only his second career Cup start.
Besides Bayne, Wingo has shepherded other current Sprint Cup racers like Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, and David Ragan – who happens to currently race for Front Row as Gilliland’s teammate. Wingo and Ragan were paired up at Roush Fenway Racing for much of the 2010 season.
The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”
After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.
“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.
“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him. It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”
The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.
The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.
Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.
A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.
Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.
“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”