Stewart-Haas Racing announced coming into the weekend at Martinsville Speedway that there would be a crew chief swap among two of its teams after Sunday’s Goody’s 500. Crew chief’s Daniel Knost and Tony Gibson will swap teams heading into the Texas race. Gibson will leave the No. 10 car with driver Danica Patrick and take over the crew chief duties on the No. 41 Chevy and driver Kurt Busch. Knost leaves Busch for Patrick,
Friday prior to the first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville, Greg Zipadelli, director for competition for Stewart-Haas Racing talked about the changes. Zipadelli said they were looking for one thing when the decision was made to make the swap.
“We are just basically looking to try to get both teams to be a little more consistent,” he said. “They have had speed throughout the year, but haven’t necessarily put the whole season together all the races at the level that we expect from them.”
Zipadelli added that another reason for the swap was matching of experience. Gibson has had a long career in NASCAR.
“We just felt like it was worth moving him over to Kurt (Busch),” Zipadelli said. “We feel like his experience and things will help put that group together and get the finishes that we need out of that team.”
“As far as Daniel (Knost) he is a young aggressive, very smart engineer,” he added. “Danica (Patrick) is used to more of that dealing with the engineers from her background. She actually, a while ago, talked about having the opportunity to work with a younger engineer and build the relationship over time.”
But why now? With only a few races left in the season some were wondering why the move had to happen now.
“I just kind of feel like it was the time to do it,” Zipadelli said. “We have three races with us not sure what the testing policy is for next year. This is a good opportunity for us to switch things up for Texas. The last three races and just see how things go.”
One question that has been floating around since the announcement was if the changes will be permanent; specifically if Daniel Knost, a new crew chief, will remain in the position past this season.
“I would like to believe that Daniel will have that position,” Zipadelli said, “I think it is just kind of wait and see, Danica how she works with him and how they get along. Then with Haas F1 Matt (Borland) moving over there we have got a lot of things moving in our company. Daniel is going to be with SHR for a long period of time.”
“It’s not a matter of whether he doesn’t do a good job there,” he added. “He has done a great job. We really fed him to the wolves. He was a guy without a lot of experience. He won a race, made the Chase, it’s just been and up and down year. I think he has a lot of potential, we put him with Danica. I think they have got the opportunity to learn and grow together as Danica continues to grow every week.”