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.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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