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NASCAR Cup: Mike Wheeler won’t be Denny Hamlin’s crew chief in 2019

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 04: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GoBowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 4, 2018 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Denny Hamlin recently announced that Mike “Wheels” Wheeler will not continue has his crew chief on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019. Wheeler has been Hamlin’s crew chief since the 2016 season.

“He was a guy that was always working his way up the ladder within JGR, within the engineering program. He’s super smart, like I said, a great friend of mine. The (crew chief) spot was always his,” Hamlin said. “But, obviously, it’s a big performance business, and even though ‑‑ if you compare us to other drivers that people think are having a great season, and we’re actually having a better season, it’s kind of unfair. You know, that’s just the standards which we have for ourselves. We just ‑‑ a change is going to be made, and that’s all I can really say about it.”

Hamlin was winless in 2018, his first winless season as a full-time Cup Series drivers. He finished the season 11th in the standings, his lowest finish since 2013, a season during which he missed four races. The only other driver Hamlin finished outside the top-10 after running the entire schedule was 2007. Hamlin’s last Cup Series race win was the 2017 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Prior to being promoted to crew chief on the No. 11 team, Wheeler was an engineer for the team. He also served as Hamlin’s substitute crew chief, in place of Darian Grubb, for six races in 2014. Wheeler and Hamlin were a crew chief-driver pair in the Cup Series for 112 races.

“5 wins, 37 top 5s, 61 top 10s. Thank you @MikeCWheeler for the last couple of years,” Hamlin (@Denny Hamlin) tweeted. “You were there for me in the beginning when I first started with JGR 14 years ago. It’s been a great ride.”

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Posted by on November 20, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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