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Tag:Michael Waltrip Racing
Posted on: March 5, 2012 8:08 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 8:13 pm
 

Elliott Sadler confirms Waltrip deal won't happen

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Sadler's win Saturday in Phoenix has him in the thick of the Nationwide championship hunt - Getty)

Elliott Sadler
won't run five races for Michael Waltrip Racing's Sprint Cup team after all.

Sadler confirmed Monday on SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio's "Sirius/XM Speedway" program the proposed deal that would have put him behind the wheel of MWR's No. 55 Toyota for five races was indeed off as was reported by Fox Sports.com late Sunday night.

"It’s not going to happen,” Sadler said on the program. “After Victory Lane Saturday in Phoenix, Richard Childress called me over to his bus and we had a long heart-to-heart. Richard and his management people at RCR think it’s in our best interest to focus 100% on winning this Nationwide championship, and I agree.”

However Sadler says it wasn't a call by Chevrolet to nix the deal but rather a decision by team owner Childress to keep his focus on winning a Nationwide championship in 2012.

“People have asked me, but that was absolutely not brought up in the meeting I had with Richard," Sadler said of Chevy's role. "Richard has put a lot of effort into building this team, and we’re off to such a good start to the season that we need to put all our eggs in the same basket.
 
“It was a great honor to be asked to do this by Michael Waltrip, and I appreciate the role Mark Martin played in making it happen, as well. It would have been fun, but I really think we have something special going that we need to focus on, 100 percent."

 
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Posted on: March 4, 2012 9:17 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 9:21 pm
 

Report: Chevy nixes Sadler's plan with Waltrip

By Pete Pistone

Elliott Sadler's deal to drive five races for Michael Waltrip Racing's Toyota Sprint Cup Series team is in jeopardy.

Fox Sports.com reports Chevrolet, the manufacturer Sadler drives for in his full-time Nationwide Series effort at Richard Childress Racing, won't allow him to pilot MWR's Camry in the proposed five race deal.

Here's the full report:

SADLER/WALTRIP CUP DEAL IN JEOPARDY 


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Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:43 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 4:03 pm
 

Elliott Sadler to drive MWR car in five races

By Pete Pistone

Elliott Sadler made his return to the Sprint Cup Series in the Daytona 500 when he piloted a Richard Childress Racing entry.

That outing didn't last long as Sadler was involved in a lap two multi-car accident.

But last year's Nationwide Series second place finisher will get more time in NASCAR's top division this year with a five race deal to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota.

Sadler will make his debut in the ride at Bristol later this month and will also drive in the August Bristol event, both Martinsville races and the July 15 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“This is an awesome opportunity,” said Sadler. “We’ve been talking about this for a while, but wanted to get through Daytona before we announced it to everyone. If I had to pick a place on the circuit to start then Bristol would be my first choice. I’ve had a lot of good memories at Bristol. Martinsville is in my home state of Virginia and I’ve always enjoyed racing at Loudon. I can’t thank Michael and everyone at MWR enough for giving me this opportunity.” 

Waltrip, who will also run four races in the ride that Mark Martin is set for 25 races, explained how Sadler came to drive the No. 55.

“Elliott has the experience and attitude we were looking for,” said Waltrip. “We’ll pair him with Crew Chief Rodney Childers who builds really fast cars. We believe Elliott will do a great job.”

 
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Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:11 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Cup teams carry optimism into the coming season

By Pete Pistone


  (L-R) Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Driver Of The #88 Diet Mountain
(Hendrick is confident his team can return to the championship form it missed out on last season - Getty Images)

This week’s annual NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte wasn’t chock full of breaking news, unless you’re among those who didn’t know reporters, writers and photographers like to eat. Buffet lines were plentiful even if the news was not.

The top two stories of the week spent in the Queen City were most likely Ford’s unveiling of the 2013 Sprint Cup Fusion and DeLana Harvick’s pregnancy, which should give you an indication of the wide spectrum of topics covered on the tour. 

Other than that most of the trek around Charlotte was reserved for teams to outline their plans for the coming season and size up goals for the coming year. 

Although every Cup every organization didn’t participate on the tour, most of the heavy hitters were represented. 

Of course all predict big things for 2012 and multiple wins and championships. To say enthusiasm ran high at every visit is a giant understatement. 

But there was a distinct vibe during every team’s session and although not one competitive lap has been run, it was interesting to gauge the atmosphere around a few of the sport’s high profile operations:  

Stewart-Haas Racing

There is a definite swagger surrounding the defending Sprint Cup championship team. Tony Stewart’s performance last year has solidified this organization as a definite contender for future titles. Stewart has also given the outfit a more personal touch with the addition of crew chief Steve Addington and long-time pal Greg Zipadelli to the Director of Competition role. Throw Danica Patrick into the mix, who appears much more at home now that she’s a full-time NASCAR driver, along with Ryan Newman and SHR came off as a laid back bunch that is having a good time doing what they’re doing. This will be a fun bunch to watch in 2012.

Joe Gibbs Racing

The feeling was much more buttoned down when the Gibbs bunch gave their view of the coming year. Coach Gibbs did come close to breaking the tour record for the use of the word excited, but there was a distinct sense of pressure in the room. Two new crew chiefs and a trio of drivers that are all in their own way facing a pressure-filled situation heading into the season is the reality for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. There are also questions on how the shift to TRD engines will impact the team’s fortunes as it looks to put last season’s motor woes behind. JGR appears to be at a crossroads this year and its 2012 performance could very well shape its overall direction. 

Michael Waltrip Racing

The off-season facelift for this team brought in newcomers Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin to team up with holdover Martin Truex Jr. Team co-owner Waltrip, who is also slated to drive in a few races this year, kept the mood light during the MWR stop by hosting a talk show featuring his stable of drivers as guests. While David Letterman has nothing to worry about, the result was an opportunity to see the personalities of this quartet of drivers who at least early on in the process seem like they click together. The absolute test will obviously come on the racetrack and like its Toyota counterparts at JGR MWR needs to find some speed to compete on a regular basis. Bowyer and Martin will help elevate the team’s driving talent but equipment and engines are still unknown entities that will impact MWR’s hope to move to the next level. 

  Jack Roush, Owner Of Roush Fenway Racing, Speaks
(Jack Roush celebrates his 25th anniversary in NASCAR and seeks win number 300 this season - Getty Images)


Roush Fenway Racing

It was difficult to get a true sense of feeling around RFR for the simple fact that two of its three Sprint Cup drivers weren’t present at the team function. Carl Edwards was out of the country on a pre-planned vacation while Matt Kenseth was a late scratch due to a family emergency. That left Greg Biffle as the lone Cup driver rep in addition to team owner Roush and GM Robbie Reiser as team reps. Roush will be celebrating its 25<sup>th</sup> year in NASCAR this season and has a remarkable history in the sport including 299 career victories. But whether Edwards doesn’t fall victim to the hangover of just missing out on last year’s championship or Kenseth follows up his Chase appearance last season or Biffle rebounds from an off 2011 are a trio of big question marks at this juncture. 

Hendrick Motorsports

It may sound strange to hear a team as successful as Hendrick has been to be considered reenergized but that’s the case with this four-car stable. Missing out on last year’s sixth straight title has Jimmie Johnson proclaiming he’s “as hungry as ever” and team owner Hendrick was glowing with optimism but his entire organization including Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and newcomer Kasey Kahne. “I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t have all four cars in the Chase and I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I can’t remember having four teams this solid, this strong, at the beginning of the year. I think we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been and if we don’t get it (the championship) it's going to be our fault.”  Those words no doubt caught the attention of every other Cup operation. 

Richard Childress Racing

There was more announced at the RCR gathering than the upcoming blessed event in the Harvick household. In addition to Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard, RCR will field a fourth entry for Elliott Sadler in the Daytona 500 as well as the following four events for Nationwide and truck series regular Brendan Gaughan. There are two crew chief changes among the three Cup drivers and a renewed sense of enthusiasm across the board but particularly with Burton who said bluntly his dismal 2011 “pissed him off.” It will be interesting to see how Harvick’s new personal life developments including divesting his KHI team impacts his season and if Burton finds his way back to being more competitive, as he demonstrated during the tail end of last year.

Penske Racing

There was a sense of relief permeating the air during the Penske media event no doubt the result of the Kurt Busch controversy finally ending. While Busch was not thrown under the bus (in fact Penske said he was personally sending his former driver a letter wishing him well on his new endeavors) it was clear this team is excited to move on with A.J. Allmendinger now teaming up with Brad Keselowski. A contract extension announcement for Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe spoke volumes of how Penske feels about the duo that won three races and made the Chase last season. Keselowski is comfortable with the role of leader he now inherits and Allmendinger’s personality has fit right into the team. 

Hope springs eternal at this time of the year to be sure and every team has reason to believe this will be their season to shine. However the reality of the grueling racing season is about to put those feelings of optimism to the test.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:08 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:17 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series driver changes

By Pete Pistone

Fans won't be able to tell the players - or in this case drivers - without a scorecard this coming Sprint Cup Series season. There have been numerous driver changes, swaps and movement since the final checkered flag of 2011 flew at Homestead last November.

You can keep up with all the new faces in new places right here, which will be updated regularly as more changes take place:

No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

In: Kasey Kahne comes over after a one year run at Red Bull Racing to take the reigns of the No. 5 Chevy, which will sport Farmer’s Insurance as its primary sponsor. Kahne signed the deal in 2010 but with nowhere to go in his four-car stable, team owner Rick Hendrick brokered a deal with Red Bull for last season. 

Out: Mark Martin ended his Hendrick tenure at the end of last season with a disappointing performance. Martin has moved on to Michael Waltrip Racing for 2012. 

Our Take: Kahne comes to Hendrick with Kenny Francis and the duo has become one of the best driver-crew chief combos in the Sprint Cup Series. They ended their Red Bull careers on a hot streak and bring that same momentum and confidence to the potent Hendrick organization.


No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Clint Bowyer joins MWR after his successful career at Richard Childress Racing. Sponsor 5-Hour Energy will back the entry for the majority of the season and talented crew chief Brian Pattie comes on board to call the shots after leaving Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. 

Out: Waltrip has added a third entry to his stable to join incumbent Martin Truex Jr. as well as newcomer Mark Martin who takes David Reutimann’s spot with the team. 

Our Take: Bowyer brings MWR’s talent level up considerably and seemed ready for a fresh start after his contract talks at RCR stalled. He was in the enviable position of having a sponsor in hand and chose Waltrip’s operation as the place for the next phase of his Cup career. Getting off to a fast start will be key for the new team’s success.


No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge

In: A.J. Allmendinger slides into the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in a move from Richard Petty Motorsports. The stars aligned for Allmendinger to get a shot at taking over a car that won twice last season and made the Chase and he seems an ideal fit for team owner Roger Penske’s style.

Out: Kurt Busch “mutually parted ways” with Penske after his tumultuous 2011 season and will drive for Phoenix Racing this season.  The infamous incident with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at the Homestead season finale was the tipping point for Busch to end his tenure with Penske Racing. 

Our Take: Allmendinger has been able to perform under tense conditions at both Red Bull and RPM when financial issues played a big part in each team’s day to day operation. He now can rest assured that there will be stability at Penske and can concentrate on trying to elevate his game. There is some pressure taking over the wheel of a successful entry like the No. 22 and trying to win with a rookie Sprint Cup crew chief in Todd Gordon.


No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford

In: David Ragan lands with Front Row Motorsports after being squeezed out of Roush Fenway Racing due to sponsorship issues and not getting the call for open seats at Penske Racing or Richard Petty Motorsports. Ragan stays in the Ford camp with the move.

Out: Travis Kvapil is the odd man out at this poont although team officials haven't ruled out the possibility of a third entry at selected races with Kvapil splitting time with J.J. Yeley and Michael McDowell. A former truck series champ, Kvapil joins the list of drivers impacted by sponsorship issues in 2012.

Our Take: Ragan is a Sprint Cup Series race winner with his Daytona victory last July and has the talent to potentially bring this team up a notch or two in the performance department. But make no mistake, Front Row is by no means anywhere close to having the resources of a Roush Fenway Racing and Ragan will have a challenging season ahead trying to be success with a much smaller and less funded race team.


No. 35 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

In: David Reutimann has landed with the upstart independent team after his release from Michael Waltrip Racing. The popular driver will pair with Dave Blaney in what TBR hopes will be a two-car effort for at least 26 races with sponsorship dictating the complete schedule. 

Out: TBR ran a handful of races with the car last season that saw the likes of Stephen Leicht, Geoffrey Bodine and Steve Park behind the wheel. 

Our Take: TBR was the quintessential David vs. Goliath story last season and scored some much needed exposure with a number of solid runs particularly at Daytona and Talladega. The team will face another uphill battle this season but the addition of Reutimann and his marketability could bring in additional sponsorship dollars that will in turn help the organization became more competitive.

No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

In: Aric Almirola was the somewhat surprising choice to take the wheel of the famed No. 43 entry at RPM. Almirola spent last year driving for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and after running a handful of Cup races for RPM in 2010 was tabbed to fill the seat of the iconic ride for 2012. 

Out: A.J. Allmendinger was granted his release from the team after primary sponsor Best Buy opted to leave for Roush Fenway Racing. Allmendinger then signed on to drive the No. 22 Dodge at Penske Racing. 

Our Take: The good news is RPM remains a two-car effort and that the No. 43 stays on track for 2012. But the team once again faces a rebuilding process taking on a new driver in Almirola to pair with Marcos Ambrose. Allmendinger had made strides to bring the organization up to the next level and seemed to be knocking on the door for his first career Sprint Cup win last season. There will be pressure on Almirola to continue that upward trend.


No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet

In: Kurt Busch takes his much-publicized leap from Penske Racing to James Finch’s operation in hopes of “putting the fun” back into his racing career. The team once again continues its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports ensuring quality cars and potent engines for its 2012 effort. 

Out: Landon Cassill piloted the ride for the bulk of the 2011 season when the 51 entry wound up finishing 30<sup>th</sup> in the final owner point standings. 

Our Take: Right out of the box look for Busch to be a factor at Daytona as Finch’s teams always perform well at restrictor plate tracks. The former series champion’s considerable talents automatically elevates the organization and it won’t hurt having someone of Busch’s stature when hunting down new sponsors. But whether Busch is in for the long haul when tough times inevitably come for the small, one car operation remains to be seen as well as whether he can take the team further up the point standings.


No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Mark Martin signed a two-year deal to drive the former No. 00 Camry with sponsor Aaron’s on board in a 25-race schedule. Team owner Waltrip plans to pilot the entry for five more races at Daytona, Talladega and Kentucky.

Out: David Reutimann was released at the end of last season with Waltrip and sponsor Aaron’s citing a lack of performance as the main reason for the change. 

Our Take: Martin still has the desire to drive and at times showed he could get the job done last year in both his time with Hendrick’s No. 5 Sprint Cup entry as well as some limited starts for Turner Motorsports’ Nationwide program. The 25-race slate should fit perfectly into Martin’s limited schedule desires. Waltrip’s four plate race starts as well as the home date in Kentucky will provide exposure and publicity for the sponsor, the former Daytona 500 winner and spokesperson extraordinaire's specialty.


Dropped teams

No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

The loss of full-time sponsor UPS forced team owner Jack Roush to shut down his fourth entry for the 2012 season leaving David Ragan on the unmployment line. Despite winning his first career Sprint Cup Series race last July at Daytona, Ragan was forced out of RFR at season's end.

No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Sponsorship issues led to team owner Richard Childress to eliminate this entry from his Sprint Cup stable and to part ways with Clint Bowyer, who left for Michael Waltrip Racing. RCR goes back to three teams for the 2012 season with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard

No. 4 and No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyotas

The departure of Red Bull as both owner and sponsor of this team means two less entries for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series campaign. General Manager Jay Frye was not successful finding new investors to keep the organization's doors open and an official shut down was the aftermath. While Kasey Kahne has landed at Hendrick Motorsports, Brian Vickers does not have a ride lined up for the new season. 


2012 CREW CHIEF TRACKER


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Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:06 pm
 

Michael Waltrip's team eyeing Red Bull assets

By Pete Pistone

Michael Waltrip Racing is close to acquiring assets from the now-defunct Red Bull Racing operation.

Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's "Sirius Speedway" is reporting that MWR is negotiating to purchase the assets of the former Sprint Cup Series team. 

In addition to cars from the team's Toyota fleet, MWR is said to be considering the purchase of equipment and even the former headquarters building.

But the most important element to any transaction would be the transfer of owner points from Red Bull, which had cars inside the Top 35 last season with drivers Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers.

Those two spots are guaranteed starting positions in the first five races of the 2012 season including the lucrative Daytona 500.

Waltrip's team plans to run three cars in the 500 but while Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin have secured spots in the race newcomer Clint Bowyer does not.

The purchase of Red Bull's assets would solve that problem as those points could be transferred to MWR's No. 15 entry.

NASCAR has final approval of all such transactions but the sanctioning body has not stood in the way of several similar moves between teams in the last few seasons.

 
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Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:00 pm
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:12 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series crew chief changes

By Pete Pistone

Teams have been changing crew chiefs at a record pace and the line-up for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season already has a very different look to it.

You can keep up with this regularly-updated chart outlining changes as they are announced:

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 20 Toyota (Joey Logano)

In: Jason Ratcliff gets the call to take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano who enters the 2012 season on the heels of a disappointing year. Ratcliff has had great success in the JGR Nationwide program and has helped guide both Logano and Kyle Busch to multiple victories. He now gets a shot at the Cup series as management promotes from within rather than go outside the organization.

Out: Greg Zipadelli was granted his release and now rejoins Tony Stewart this time as Director of Competition with Stewart-Haas Racing. Zippy was never able to get Logano to the next level of his career despite enjoying tremendous success while serving as Stewart’s crew chief during their time together at JGR. He still had one year left on his contract but rather than keep spinning its wheels, the team decided to allow Zipadelli to leave and give the 20 team a fresh start.

Our Take: Logano enters next season as a make or break year and it was clear he and Zipadelli weren’t on the same page. A new voice in Ratcliff from atop the war wagon can’t hurt but the duo will have their work cut out trying to rebound from a disastrous effort in 2011.


Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 11 Toyota (Denny Hamlin)

In: Darian Grubb didn’t waste any time in finding employment after he parted ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart’s championship-winning No. 14 team. Rather than return to his roots at Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role that was offered, Grubb will climb back up on the pit box to call the shots for Hamlin. 

Out: Mike Ford went from eight victories and a whisker of the Sprint Cup champion in 2010 to the unemployment line the following season. When the wheels came off Hamlin’s title run in the second to last race of the year in Phoenix, the No. 11 team was never quite the same and suffered through a miserable follow up campaign. 

Our Take: Grubb has the talent and in a very short crew chief career has scored wins with Jimmie Johnson, including a Daytona 500 victory, and taken a Sprint Cup championship with Stewart. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get Hamlin back to the force he was in 2010 while also dealing with the many issues that plagued JGR’s engine program last season. Grubb will be up for the test but will have his work cut out for him.


Stewart-Haas Racing – No. 14 Chevrolet (Tony Stewart)

In: Steve Addington punched his ticket out of Penske Racing days after the season ended to take the opportunity to work with Stewart on the championship-winning team. Addington has had a successful career despite dealing with the talented and emotional Busch brothers – Kyle, when he was at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kurt last season at Penske. Stewart is also known for his emotions but Addington is well-equipped to deal with it after his recent at-times tumultuous experiences with the Busch boys.

Out: Grubb couldn’t save his job even after helping Stewart win five races in the Chase and the title. The decision to go in a different direction was made well before Stewart eventually won the championship in Homestead and despite the success there was no turning back in the parting of ways. 

Our Take: Addington and Stewart have a relationship from both their days at Gibbs as well as their early short track careers. They’ve remained friends over the years and share a similar connection that should clock together as driver-crew chief pretty quickly. The tools and resources are there for Addington to pick right up where Grubb left off.


Penske Racing – No. 22 Dodge (A.J. Allmendinger)

In: Todd Gordon gets the call from Roger Penske to move over from the team’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 Dodge to six wins a year ago, to the Sprint Cup effort. Like his counterpart at the Penske No. 2 entry Paul Wolfe, Gordon will get a chance to prove himself after working his way up through the organization. 

Out: Addington was admirable in the way he dealt with the turmoil around the team last year and Busch’s well-publicized emotional outbursts. Despite the controversy, Addington and Busch did win two races and make the Chase proving at times to be a formidable pairing.

Our Take: Gordon is a bright talent and will work well knowing the ins and outs of the “Penske Way.” Now that Allmendinger has been named driver the two can begin working on chemistry and their relationship. Both are young and will more than likely benefit from a fresh start and perspective. The duo take over a ride that won twice last year and made the Chase so expectations will be high and a good start to the season will go a long way in helping build confidence with the entire team.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 29 Chevrolet (Kevin Harvick)

In: Shane Wilson comes back to work with Harvick as the duo team up again in their careers. The two won the Nationwide Series together in 2006. Wilson most recently was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief at RCR and after moving into another role inside the team now gets another shot to work in NASCAR’s top division this time with Harvick. 

Out: Gil Martin was able to get Harvick to victory lane multiple times in the last two seasons and made the Chase, nearly winning all the marbles in 2010. But things soured internally with the team last season and Harvick voiced his concerns to team owner Childress who decided to pull the plug on Martin, who will stay with the organization but move into a management role for the time being. 

Our Take: Harvick can be prickly to work with and Martin may have found out the hard way. Wilson has the advantage of previously working with Harvick and tasting success in the Nationwide title run. Pit road miscues doomed the No. 29 team many times last year and that will need to be eradicated by Wilson in a hurry if Harvick is to return to championship contention.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 31 Chevrolet (Jeff Burton)

In: Drew Blickensderfer comes to RCR from Roush Fenway Racing, where he had spent his entire NASCAR career. Blickensderfer was a valuable commodity to Roush in both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup programs, most recently working as crew chief for Matt Kenseth and then David Ragan.

Out: Luke Lambert was the interim crew chief for Burton after Todd Berrier was released around mid-season. Lambert and Burton did begin to make significant progress down the stretch of the schedule with several top ten runs to their credit and a near victory at Talladega in October.

Our Take: Blickensderfer is a hot commodity and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. He clicked very well with the relatively young Ragan at RFR, a partnership that resulted in a July Daytona win, but now teams up with the seasoned veteran presence of Burton. It’s an intriguing pair that might be one of the surprises in the coming campaign.

 

Michael Waltrip Racing – No. 15 Toyota (Clint Bowyer)

In: Brian Pattie got shuffled out of the crew chief role for Juan Pablo Montoya about mid-season in favor of Jim Pohlman. Pattie remained inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the balance of the year but jumped at an opportunity to crew chief once again when Waltrip’s team expanded to three cars and brought Bowyer into the fold. 

Out: Pattie steps in to fill the crew chief position for the brand new No. 15 entry. 

Our Take: When Pattie methodically guided Montoya into the 2009 Chase with a carefully calculated regular season game plan he turned a lot of heads in the garage and many applauded his talent. Things didn’t go too well in the two follow-up efforts but Pattie is still regarded as a forward-thinking crew chief who has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself if he can get Bowyer into the Chase in year one.
 

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing – No. 42 Chevrolet (Juan Pablo Montoya)

In: Chris Heroy brings his engineering background to the crew chief position replacing the Brian Pattie/Jim Pohlman combo that split duties for the team last year. 

Out: Team owner Chip Ganassi made it pretty clear he wasn’t going to go into 2012 with the same lineup that was so disappointing last season so moving Pohlman out of the spot didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Our Take: Heroy is an unknown commodity and steps into a difficult job of trying to right the ship. The entire EGR team including Montoya’s teammate Jamie McMurray endured a miserable season it will take a huge effort all the way around to get back to being competitive on a regular basis.

2012 DRIVER TRACKER

 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com