Stewart-Haas Racing announced changes and appointments in its competition department Monday as it prepares for the 2016 season. The team fields four drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, two of whom made the season 10 race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Kevin Harvick, the 2015 Sprint cup champion, finished second in the final race of the season and the series points standings scoring three wins, 23 top five and 28 top 10 finishes along with one pole. Kurt Busch, who was suspended for the first three years, finished eighth in the final standings with two wins, 10 top five and 21 top ten finishes along with three poles. Danica Patrick’s best finish in 2015 was seventh at Martinsville in the spring. Team co-owner Tony Stewart scored three top 10 finishes with his best finish of sixth coming at Bristol in the spring.
Stewart announced in September that 2016 will be his final full year in Sprint Cup competition. He will turn over the no. 14 car to Clint Bowyer starting in 2017. For his final season, Stewart will have Michael Bugarewicz as crew chief. Bugarewicz joined SHR in 2014 and moves from race engineer on the No. 4 team to crew chief for the No. 14 team. He replaces Chad Johnston, who the team said has left SHR to pursue a new opportunity.
Danica Patrick will have Billy Scott as her crew chief next season. Scott comes from Michael Waltrip Racing where has been since 2014. During that time he was the crew chief for the No. 55 team, which featured drivers David Ragan, Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip, among others.
Daniel Knost has been promoted to manager of vehicle dynamics for SHR. Knost has been a crew chief at SHR for two years, spending 2014 with the No. 41 team of Kurt Busch and 2015 with the No. 10 team of Patrick.
Rodney Childers will remain as crew chief for the No. 4 team of Harvick and Tony Gibson remains as crew chief for the No. 41 team of Busch.
“We have great people at Stewart-Haas Racing and these changes prove that,” said Stewart. “We were able to promote from within while also adding new talent.
“Change isn’t easy, and that’s particularly true when it comes to my relationship with Chad Johnston,” he added. “He served as my crew chief during two very difficult seasons. He was always supportive and he’s become like a brother to me. I think very highly of Chad and wish him nothing but the best in his new opportunity.”
(Originally published on Examiner.com)