NASCAR: Roush Fenway announces crew chief lineup

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Some of the outstanding pieces in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series garages were put into their respective puzzle places today with Roush Fenway Racing announcing its crew chief lineup.

Matt Puccia stays put on Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford. Meanwhile Bob Osborne, Carl Edwards’ longtime crew chief, will come back to the Cup level after a several-year hiatus since 2012. He’ll join Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 Ford.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets a new crew chief for his No. 17 Ford in Nick Sandler, who had been head engineer the last four years under Jimmy Fennig on the RFR No. 99. Mike Kelley continues as that car’s car chief.

Fennig stays on with the team as research and development coordinator, after announcing his semi-retirement from the crew chief role at the end of 2014.

“Bob Osborne is a proven commodity, as evidenced by his 18 wins as a Sprint Cup crew chief,” team owner Jack Roush said in a release. “He will bring a strong veteran presence to the No. 6 AdvoCare team, as Trevor Bayne makes the transition to full-time Sprint Cup racing.

“We have seen proven results with Matt Puccia and Greg Biffle and we will look to continue to build on that moving into 2015,” added Roush. “And we are excited about the elevation of Nick Sandler to crew chief on the No. 17. Nick has a strong engineering background with the company and his time working hand-in-hand with Jimmy Fennig over the past few seasons will prove invaluable as he takes the helm of the No. 17.

Kevin Kidd, who had been the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide (now XFINITY) Series, is the Sprint Cup team manager for that trio. Mark McArdle serves as the team’s engineering director for both the Cup and XFINITY programs.

In the XFINITY ranks, crew chiefs will be Phil Gould (No. 1, Elliott Sadler), Seth Barbour (No. 16, Ryan Reed), Scott Graves (No. 60, Chris Buescher) and Chad Norris (No. 6, Bubba Wallace). Norris took over as Edwards’ crew chief in 2012 when Osborne left his post midseason for health reasons.

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.