Joe Gibbs Racing Begins Search For Labonte's New Crew Chief HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. Wednesday, July 14, 2004 -- Joe Gibbs Racing released Michael McSwain from his duties as crew chief of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL...
Joe Gibbs Racing Begins Search For Labonte's New Crew Chief
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. Wednesday, July 14, 2004 -- Joe Gibbs Racing released Michael McSwain from his duties as crew chief of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Series, team officials announced July 14.
McSwain joined Joe Gibbs Racing in December 2002 and served as Bobby Labonte's crew chief for the 2003 season and the first 18 races of the 2004 season.
"Over the past two years, Michael McSwain has worked extremely hard for Joe Gibbs Racing," J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said. "This was a difficult decision, but it was time to go in a different direction. We appreciate all that he has done for the team and wish him the best of luck in the future."
McSwain, 37, scored victories with Labonte in 2003 at Atlanta (spring) and the season-finale at Homestead-Miami, en route to an eighth-place finish in the point standings.
"Joe Gibbs Racing and I had a successful relationship," McSwain said. "I wish them the best the remainder of the year and in the future."
An interim crew chief will be named in the near future.
Jimmy Makar, senior vice president of racing, will assist the team and the interim crew chief while team officials search for McSwain's replacement. Makar served as crew chief on the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet from 1992-2002, winning the 1993 Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett and the 2000 NEXTEL Cup Championship with Labonte.
"We hope to make the decision on a permanent crew chief in the near future, but we are going to take our time to find the best person for the job," Gibbs said.
Labonte has 2,278 points and is sixth in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings. He trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 442 points and trails fifth-place Matt Kenseth by 43 points.
"Michael did a great job when he came in and took over for Jimmy Makar after the 2002 season," Labonte said. "We won a couple of races in 2003 and won some poles. He works hard, and I wish him success down the road."
The next race for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series is the New England 300 July 25 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, fielding two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams for drivers Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, and two NASCAR Busch Series teams for drivers Mike Bliss and J.J. Yeley.
Based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Joe Gibbs -- a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and current coach of the Washington Redskins -- the team has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning two Cup Series championships and more than 40 NASCAR races, including the 1993 Daytona 500 and the 2000 Brickyard 400.