Things may be quiet on the driver front, but silly season for crew chiefs is at full song.
Drew Blickensderfer is taking his leave from Richard Childress Racing and Jeff Burton’s No. 31 Chevrolet to work for Richard Petty Motorsports, according to an RCR announcement and a Foxsports.com report.
Blickensderfer resigned his position with Childress on Sunday. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by Shane Wilson for the final three races of the season. Luke Lambert, Elliott Sadler’s crew chief in the Nationwide Series, will take over crew chief duties on the No. 31 next season.
Sadler, the Nationwide points leader, already has announced plans to leave RCR at the end of the season.
“I want to thank Drew for all of his effort with the No. 31 Caterpillar team this season,” owner Richard Childress said in a statement released by the team. “He’s a great crew chief, and I can’t say enough about his dedication to RCR. Making the move now, before the season is over, gives Drew some additional time to pursue other opportunities.”
Blickensderfer won’t need the time. According to Foxsports.com, he has agreed to replace Mike Ford as crew chief of Marcos Ambrose’s No. 9 RPM Ford. Having joined RPM in May, Ford is pursuing opportunities elsewhere and already has an offer from BK Racing, the Foxsports.com report said.
The move to RPM is a logical one for Blickensderfer, who worked at Roush Fenway Racing for nine years before taking the job with RCR. Promoted to the Cup level in 2009, Blickensderfer won his first two races as crew chief for Matt Kenseth — the Daytona 500 and the Auto Club 500 at Fontana, Calif.
A year later, after the 2010 Daytona 500, Blickensderfer was replaced as Kenseth’s crew chief by Todd Parrott, currently the crew chief for Arica Almirola’s No. 43 Ford at RPM. Blickensderfer has been at RCR since the end of last season.
Because Roush Fenway supplies chassis, engines and technical support to RPM, Blickensderfer will be a valuable liaison between the companies.
Wilson started the season as Kevin Harvick’s crew chief but was replaced in that capacity after 24 races by Gil Martin. Wilson remained with RCR and served as interim crew chief on Paul Menard’s No. 27 Chevy during a six-week suspension to full-time crew chief Slugger Labbe, the result of a rules infraction discovered after the August race at Michigan.