Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Until last week, crew chief Jimmy Fennig admits he had âvery seldomââ talked to Carl Edwards in their years together at Roush Fenway Racing.
âIâm the type of crew chief that I focus in on the job at hand and the driver I have and donât really pay too much attention to other drivers,â said Fennig, who most recently was Matt Kensethâs crew chief.
Next season, Fennig and his crew will partner with Edwards as Kenseth drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. Itâs part of a series of changes taking place at Roush Fenway Racing. Two-time defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. replaces Kenseth in the No. 17 Cup car. Trevor Bayne takes Stenhouseâs Nationwide ride. The Cup team of Greg Biffle and crew chief Matt Puccia will remain intact.
Fennig, who became a crew chief in 1986 and won the 2004 championship with Kurt Busch, admits he doesnât know Edwards too well but doesnât see that as a hinderance in their pairing.
âMy goal has always been to win races,â said Fennig, the winning crew chief in the 1988 Daytona 500 with Bobby Allison and this yearâs Daytona 500 with Kenseth. âNo matter who drives the car, thatâs what I try to do every week and thatâs something I know we already have in common.â
Fennig will be Edwardsâ third crew chief since the start of the 2012 season. Bob Osborne started with Edwards. Osborne, citing health issues, stepped down as crew chief in July and was replaced by Chad Norris.
Edwards was winless this season and finished 15th in the points a year after losing the championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart. Edwards scored only four top-10 finishes in the 17 races with Norris as crew chief, thus a change wasnât surprising.
âWe all just sat down and looked at it and Chad and I talked at length about it,â Edwards said of the change. âEveryone agrees the opportunity to have the experience of Jimmy Fennig on the box to get ... back to Victory Lane is what we should do. It wasnât something that I single-handedly requested or just that Jack (Roush) wanted to do it. As a team we thought this was the best thing to do. The biggest thing at Roush is that he has so many good people that we can move people around and do things like this and it is good for the whole company.â
Along with that move, Roush will pair Stenhouse Jr. with crew chief Scott Graves. Both will be rookies in Cup.
âI would normally not be an advocate for bringing a crew chief who hadnât been established with a rookie driver into the Cup Series, but Scott Graves â in my words â heâs been a prodigy for the small amount of experience heâs had making the final decisions,â Roush said.
âHe made great decisions for Carl at Watkins Glen and heâs made great decisions for Ricky when heâs been with him this year. So I think given the fact heâs a mechanical engineer as well as an experienced team engineer, heâs going to bring enthusiasm and creativity to Ricky that we might not otherwise be able to achieve with somebody that had more experience.â