CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Dec. 7, 1999) Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that veteran NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief Robbie Loomis has been named crew chief for three-time champion Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet team.
Brian Whitesell, who has been with the No. 24 team since its inception and took over the crew chief duties when Ray Evernham left at midseason, has been promoted to the position of team manager.
The 35-year-old Loomis has spent his entire NASCAR Winston Cup Series career with the Petty Enterprises organization, serving as crew chief for the No. 43 car for the past nine years. He was team manager for both Petty drivers, John Andretti and Kyle Petty, in the 1999 season while still handling his duties as crew chief for Andretti and the No. 43 team.
A spokesperson for Petty Enterprises said Tuesday afternoon that the team will more than likely "promote from within" to fill the vacancy created by Loomis' departure.
"Robbie is going to make a great addition to our team," Whitesell said. "We've had a number of discussions and he is a great fit in the overall structure that I envisioned when I took this position."
Whitesell, with a strong background in organizational administration and a graduate engineer, will guide the overall operation of the No. 24 team. Whitesell had been the right hand man for Evernham since the team was formed. He became crew chief for Gordon when Evernham left the team in early October. He saw immediate success with two victories in his first two races as crew chief, at Martinsville and at Charlotte.
"I'm really grateful for this opportunity to join Hendrick Motorsports and to work with such a winning organization with such a great reputation," Loomis said. "I wasn't looking to leave Petty Enterprises, but the unique opportunity of being able to work with Jeff Gordon, Brian Whitesell and all the other members of the No. 24 team had great appeal to me. They've had wonderful success and have set the standard for other teams to emulate. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to help contribute to their great tradition.
"At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Richard and Kyle Petty and their great organization. They gave me the opportunity to be in Winston Cup racing early in my career, and helped me learn the ropes. They will always be a large part of my life."
"We are delighted to have Robbie Loomis join us," Hendrick CEO Rick Hendrick said. "His experience, background and reputation are a known commodity and we expect him to be a tremendous asset for the No. 24 DuPont team and for our whole organization. He's a proven competitor and a winner and we know he will hit it off quickly with both Jeff Gordon and Brian Whitesell to help us continue to forge that winning chemistry. We believe in the team manager/crew chief combination and feel this gives us what we want on the No. 24 team."
"I'm really excited to have someone with such great talent and experience join our team," Gordon said. "I'm looking forward to working with Robbie. Everyone in the Winston Cup garage knows his capabilities. His expertise and racing savvy will add a great deal of depth to our team and he and Brian will make a great combination."
Loomis, a native of Forest City, Fla., grew up around the local tracks in Florida with his father, trying his hand at race car driving for awhile as a teenager, and learning the intricacies of the sport.
He began his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career at Petty Enterprises in 1988, working with Kyle Petty on his NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team. In 1991, Loomis was named crew chief for Richard Petty and also served in that capacity through Petty's final year as a competitor in 1992 during the Richard Petty Fan Appreciation Tour.
Loomis' first victory as a crew chief came when Bobby Hamilton won the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix in 1996. The following year, that tandem won again, posting victory in the ACDelco 400 at Rockingham. Win No. 3 for Loomis came this past season when Andretti started 21st and charged steadily to the front to take the checkered flag in the spring race at Martinsville.