Three new pit crew members, car chief named to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team

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Even before the first green flag has fallen for the start of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, this has already become a year of significant change for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Not only does the defending Daytona 500 winner have a new primary sponsor on his No. 88 Sprint Cup car in Nationwide Insurance, he also has a new crew chief, Greg Ives.

Ives, who led Chase Elliott to last season’s Nationwide Series championship, replaces Steve Letarte, who left Hendrick Motorsports at the end of 2014 to join NASCAR on NBC and NBCSN’s NASCAR America as an analyst.

Now comes word that half of Earnhardt’s six-man pit crew on the No. 88 for the 2015 Sprint Cup season will also be new.

According to Fox Sports, added to the No. 88 lineup are front tire changer and front tire carrier David Mayo and Dustin Lineback, as well as rear tire carrier William “Rowdy” Harrell.

Mayo, Lineback and Harrell are not entirely strangers to working for Earnhardt or HMS:

* Mayo spent the last two seasons serving as backup tire changer for both Earnhardt and HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson’s team.

* Lineback has likewise served in a backup/reserve role in the past as both a tire carrier and gas man for Junior and Johnson. He returns to HMS after fueling Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Sprint Cup ride in 2014.

* Harrell was part of the HMS pit crew developmental program and was promoted to a backup/reserve role for both Earnhardt’s and Johnson’s teams at the end of last season, according to Fox Sports.

The new pit crew members replace three others – tire carriers Kevin Harris and Matt Ver Meer, and front tire changer Clay Robinson – who left HMS at the end of last season to work on Carl Edwards’ pit crew this season for Joe Gibbs Racing.

The new trio on the No. 88 will join returning pit crew members Nick Covey (jackman), Joe Slingerland (rear tire changer) and Matt Tyrrell (gas man).

One other addition/change was also announced for Earnhardt’s team: Travis Mack will become car chief on the No. 88, replacing Jason Burdett, who will serve as crew chief for JR Motorsports’ Regan Smith in the Xfinity Series in 2015.

Mack was previously car chief at JR Motorsports for Smith in 2013 and last season with Elliott.

Returning to the No. 88 is a homecoming of sorts for Mack, who previously worked as a mechanic on Earnhardt’s Sprint Cup team before moving to JRM.

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.