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Published on July 27th, 2011 | by Shannon Baxter

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Crew Chiefs: So Many Changes, So Little Time

The Sprint Cup series is so competitive, if teams aren’t consistently finishing in the top 10 every week, a change has to be made immediately.  Now is the time to make changes in preparation for the run to the Chase.  This gives teams time to let the crew chief and driver gel and settle in before the Chase.  So far we have seen crew chief changes for AJ Allmendinger, Greg BiffleJeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Martin Truex Jr.

Performance is at a stand-still for drivers like Burton, Biffle and Almendinger.  They have a handful of top 10 finishes between them this year and have been flying under the radar all season. Making a crew chief change is a perfect opportunity for these teams to get the improvements they have been looking for. 

All of these teams have the potential to finish well every week, they are just missing a certain spark to get to those finishes.  Hopefully these changes will provide that spark.

For Truex Jr’s team, I feel that communication is one of the major issues.  With only three top 10 finishes and many DNF’s this season, a change had to be made.  Earlier in the year, the team replaced their tire changers in hopes of improving performance.  Unfortunately, their luck never improved.  The No. 56 team now has Chad Johnson as crew chief, formally the lead engineer of Micheal Waltrip Racing.

This team has nothing to lose and everything to gain.  We know that Truex has the potential to win races, he just needs a strong team backing to get there.  I think this change will take time to settle in, but will eventually bring improvement to that MWR team.

Montoya seems to be the roller-coaster driver of this season.  He started off the year well and was as high as fourth in points.  However, in five races out of the last ten, he has finished 20th or worse and has now plummeted to 17th in points.  In my opinion, the crew chief is not the problem. 

We’ve seen Montoya lose his temper with other drivers and his own team countless times throughout the year.  I feel like his temper gets in the way of focusing on his job.  Maybe his new crew chief, Jim Pohlman, can keep the Colombian driver level-headed.  If not, I think Ganassi needs to address the situation and figure out a solution for Montoya.  He is a talented driver, he just needs to focus on his race, rather than focusing on who he’s going to box after the race.

In conclusion, I don’t think this will be the last crew chief changes of the season.  Drivers like, Brian Vickers and Jamie McMurray are used to running well, and aren’t having the finishes they need.  Possible crew chief changes?  I guess we’ll just have to keep watching as this season unfolds.

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