By AMANDA VINCENT
As previously reported, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards will have new crew chiefs for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. JGR confirmed on Monday that Dave Rogers will will be Edwards’ crew chief on the No. 19 Toyota team next season, while Mike Wheeler will be Hamlin’s crew chief on the No. 11 Toyota team.
“Two thousand fifteen was probably the strongest season we have ever had at Joe Gibbs Racing; we won more races than we ever have, qualified all four teams into the Chase and were blessed to end it with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “I think every year, you evaluate each of your teams, however, and sometimes during that process, you find that a change might be in the best interest for all involved.”
Darian Grubb, who was crew chief for Edwards in 2015 and was Hamlin’s crew chief on the No. 11 team prior to that is “exploring several opportunities for the 2016 season,” according to Monday’s press release from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Grubb moved from the No. 11 team to be crew chief on the newly-formed No. 19 team for the newly-arrived Edwards for the 2015 season. And with Rogers as Edwards’ crew chief in 2016, Rogers becomes the second-straight crew chief to move from the No. 11 to No. 19 teams in two seasons. Prior to working with Hamlin in 2011, Rogers was crew chief on JGR’s No. 18 team for Kyle Busch.
Wheeler’s appointment to the No. 11 team to replace Rogers marks a move from the Xfinity Series to the Sprint Cup Series for Wheeler. Wheeler was with the No. 11 Sprint Cup team before he was named crew chief of JGR’s No. 20 team in the Xfinity Series for the 2015 season.
“Mike Wheeler is, obviously, someone that has a long history with Denny and that No. 11 team,” Gibbs said. “After seeing what he accomplished as a crew chief in our Xfinity Series program last year, we felt the timing was right to move him back into our Cup program. Dave Rogers has also been successful in every role he has had with us, and we think he will work well with Carl going into 2016.”
The other two Joe Gibbs Racing teams at the Sprint Cup level — the No. 18 team of 2015 Sprint Cup champion Busch and the No. 20 team of Matt Kenseth — will retain their crew chiefs for next season. Jason Ratcliff will continue as Kenseth’s crew chief and Adam Stevens as Busch’s crew chief in 2016.
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