Just past the halfway point of the season, with just seven races until the Chase begins, several teams have decided now is the prefect time to start making some serious changes on the ground.
Roush Fenway Racing announced last week Greg Erwin was being replaced by Matt Puccia as Greg Biffle’s crew chief. The #16 team hasn’t performed as well this season as past seasons and the strain was apparent between Biffle and Erwin. Prior to this past weekend the pair had just one top-five and five top-10s – they sat 14th in the points.
With the first week under their belts, Puccia led Biffle to a 16th place finish – not a rousing start, but we’ll give the pair a little more than a week to make any judgments.
While Greg Erwin was out of a job for a few days, he found a new home just down the block at Richard Petty Motorsports, working with AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger was with crew chief Mike Shiplett for most of the last three seasons. Together the two have scored three top-fives, 14 top-10s and one pole. Their best full season points finish is 19th, last season. The two haven’t had a bad run together, but things could definitely be better. Erwin has the experience and success at the sport’s top level, but does he have the support at RPM? Time will tell.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced this week Juan Pablo Montoya would get his fourth different crew chief in less than five seasons. The driver’s been with immediate past crew chief Brian Pattie since the midway point of 2008. This was after stints with Donnie Wingo and Jimmy Elledge. Together, Pattie and Montoya have scored one win, 16 top-fives and 39 top-10s. These are solid statistics for Pattie to be proud of.
This season though has been a struggle for both EGR teams. And after issues like last season’s Brickyard 400, Montoya’s and Pattie’s relationship has been less than great. If there is a lesson to learn, it’s that when Juan’s not happy, no one’s happy.
Is Jim Pohlman any more the answer to Montoya’s performance issues than Elledge and Pattie were? Again, only time will tell.
So how do you feel about the crew chief shifts? Do you expect swift performance improvements? Any of the moves better than others? Let us know!