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Joe Gibbs Racing Announces Crew Chief Changes For 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season

Dave Rogers to Lead No. 19 Team with Driver Carl Edwards
Mike Wheeler Will Be Crew Chief for No. 11 Team with Driver Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing announces changes today to its crew chief lineup in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the 2016 season.

Dave Rogers, who most recently served as crew chief for JGR’s No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, will transition to lead the No. 19 team in 2016 with driver Carl Edwards.

Mike Wheeler, who had spent 10 years with the No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team before transitioning to crew chief for JGR’s No. 20 XFINITY Series team in 2015, will return to work with driver Denny Hamlin in 2016.

Darian Grubb, who had served as crew chief on the No. 19 Sprint Cup Series team last season, is currently exploring several opportunities for the 2016 season.

Meanwhile Jason Ratcliff and Adam Stevens will continue in their current roles as crew chief of JGR’s No. 20 and No. 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams respectively.

“2015 was probably the strongest season we have ever had at Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of JGR. “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.

“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. Mike Wheeler is obviously someone that has a long history with Denny (Hamlin) and that No. 11 team. 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 (Edwards) going into 2016.”

Kyle Busch Undergoes Scheduled Offseason Surgery

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Expected to Return for Start of 2016 NASCAR Season

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, had successful surgery this morning to remove two metal plates in his left foot and a metal rod and screws in his right leg. Busch is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2016 NASCAR season in February.

The scheduled offseason surgery removed the plates, rod and screws that were used to help stabilize his foot and leg following injuries suffered in an accident at Daytona International Speedway in February 2015. Today’s surgeries were performed by Dr. Robert Anderson of OrthoCarolina and Dr. Stephen Sims of Carolinas Healthcare System.

Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship

Kyle Busch completed one of the most amazing comebacks in all of sports, recovering from injuries suffered on the eve of the Daytona 500 this past February to earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with a win in today’s 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In fact, it was a night of firsts for Busch, Toyota and M&M’S.

It is Busch’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and in the process also provides Toyota and M&M’S their first respective championships in the sport’s premiere race series.

For Joe Gibbs Racing it was the organization’s fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and first since 2005. In addition, Interstate Batteries, the founding sponsor for JGR and primary sponsor on the No. 18 Camry for six races this year, captured its second championship, after winning it all with JGR and driver Bobby LaBonte in 2000.

It was an incredible season across all of JGR with all four teams earning a spot in the Chase and combining for an incredible 14 wins as well as victories in both the preseason Shootout in Daytona and the Sprint All-Star race in Charlotte.

Busch qualified the No. 18 M&M’S Crispy Toyota in the third position and quickly established that he had the car necessary to run at the front of the field all afternoon. He would go to the lead for the first time on lap 20 and remained in the top five the remainder of the evening. While running at or near the front of the field all race Busch managed to keep his competitors for the championship in his rear view mirror. He would run second at lap 100 and continued to hold that position at lap 200. A late caution for debris on lap 257 would bring the leaders down pit road a final time, and as they have all season the M&M’S pit crew delivered, allowing Busch to restart second with seven laps remaining. Busch would restart on the outside and quickly moved around the 2 car for the lead. From there he managed to pull away from the 4 car and earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. It was not only Busch’s first championship, but also the first championship for rookie crew chief Adam Stevens. It was an incredible season and despite missing 11 races because of the injuries he would return to not only win a race, but to win five, and earn a spot in the top thirty of points required to secure a spot in the Chase.

Matt Kenseth qualified the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 19th position but wasted little time in making his way into the top ten. Kenseth was 15th before the first caution of the day on lap 14 and by the time NASCAR displayed a competition caution lap 30 he was up to seventh. He would battle the remainder of the afternoon inside the top ten before a final caution on lap 257. Kenseth would restart ninth and managed to gain two spots to take the checkered flag in seventh. It was another fantastic season for Kenseth who won five races over the course of 2015.

Denny Hamlin qualified the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota on the pole and was quick through the early going as he ran second. Smoke would come from the back of the No. 11 early on and Hamlin was forced to come down pit road for repairs. The team would repair a broken line that caused the issue and he would return to the track three laps down. However the FedEx team continued to fight and their perseverance paid off as they worked their way back to the lead lap. A series of cautions worked to their advantage and with the use of a wave around the two lucky dog designations, Hamlin was back on the lead lap by lap 47. From there he would drive his way back into the top ten and ultimately earn a 10th-place finish. He would finish the season with two wins and ninth overall in the point standings.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the seventh position and showed early speed as he drove his way into second by lap 20. Edwards remained in the top five through the halfway mark of the race before a caution that immediately followed a round of green flag pit stops. The ARRIS team would elect not to pit and Edwards would restart from the lead when many of the other leaders came down pit road for fresh tires. The older tires proved to be a big disadvantage however, and Edwards would fall out of the top ten by lap 160. He would fight to get back into the top ten the remainder of the evening before finishing 11th. He would finish his first season with JGR with two wins and fifth in overall points.

The win was Busch’s fifth of the season. He was followed tonight by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson, who rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 30 laps and 18 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be celebrated with the annual NASCAR awards banquet to be held in Las Vegas, NV on Friday, December 4 with live television coverage on NBCSN. The 2016 NASCAR season will begin once again with the running of the Great American Race from Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 21.

We thank all of our partners and fans for their tremendous support throughout the 2015 season and look forward to the start of a new season in just a few months.

Daniel Suárez Wins NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award

In what has already been an impressive first full season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Daniel Suárez added another accolade to his resume Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. In doing so, he became the first Mexican-born driver and the second NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) graduate to receive the award in a NASCAR national series.

“Congratulations to Daniel and his Joe Gibbs Racing team for this great achievement,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president, racing operations. “Watching Daniel and Darrell Wallace Jr. battle throughout the season, two hard-nosed competitors, really speaks to their talent and I look forward to seeing them compete in NASCAR for years to come.”

Also a member of the 2011-2013 NASCAR Next classes, an initiative designed to identify the sport’s next generation of stars, Suárez captured the rookie honors over fellow NASCAR Next and D4D graduate Darrell Wallace Jr. The Monterrey, Mexico native made 33 starts in 2015, posting three Coors Light Pole Awards, eight top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.

“The Sunoco Rookie of the Year program has rewarded drivers for their dedication and competitive drive for more than a decade,” said Drew Kabakoff, Director Brand Marketing, Sunoco. “Daniel has shown both of those qualities and more in his NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie season and is laying the groundwork for an exciting career.”

Suárez will be officially crowned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner on Monday, Nov. 23 at the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Florida.