WELCOME — NASCAR Cup Series team Richard Petty Motorsports on Monday announced a new crew chief for driver Bubba Wallace. Go Fas Racing followed that up Tuesday with a similar announcement for driver Corey LaJoie.
Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet team will be led by veteran Jerry Baxter in 2020, while LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford pit box will be topped by former race engineer Ryan Sparks.
Baxter has been a staple in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series for years with 15 total wins, most recently with GMS Racing. In 2019, he led Brett Moffitt to four wins and a third-place points finish. In Baxter’s previous stint with Kyle Busch Motorsports, he guided Wallace from 2013-14, racking up five total wins and another third-place points finish in ’14. Baxter’s most recent Cup crew chiefing experience came for John Menard’s team with Robby Gordon in 2000. He replaces Derek Stamets with the No. 43 team.
Sparks moves over to Go Fas from Richard Childress Racing, where he was a race engineer with the team’s No. 3 Cup team for Austin Dillon, serving as part of the Daytona 500-winning team in 2017. He also was on Dillon’s 2011 trucks championship and 2013 Xfinity Series title teams. Sparks takes the place of the now-retired Randy Cox.
Suarez still working on plans for 2020 season
Driver Daniel Suarez is still working on plans for the 2020 NASCAR Cup season, according to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern. The report said Suarez’ top two options are Gaunt Brothers Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Stern also said sponsorship details for Suarez are unclear, but he is expected to maintain support from Coca-Cola.
Gaunt Brothers Racing has competed part-time in 38 Cup races over the past three seasons, most notably with drivers Parker Kligerman and D.J. Kennington. The latter earned the team’s best finish of 13th in the July 2018 Daytona race while the former finished 15th twice last year in the season-opening Daytona 500 and in the fall Talladega race. The team currently does not have a Cup charter, but does have an alliance with Toyota, which formerly developed Suarez’ career.
RCR currently has two fulltime chartered Cup teams, including Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Chevrolet and back-to-back reigning Xfinity champion Tyler Reddick in the No. 8. The team fielded a part-time, non-chartered No. 31 car for Reddick in a pair of 2019 Cup races.
Suarez has eight top-fives, 32 top-10s and two poles in 108 Cup races, and finished a career-best 17th in points for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019 following a two-year stint at Joe Gibbs Racing.