Could Danica Patrick have a new crew chief next season?

Yes, Tony Gibson re-signed with Stewart-Haas Racing, but his 2015 assignment is uncertain.

Could Danica Patrick have a new crew chief next season?
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Tony Gibson during National Anthem
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with father T.J. and crew chief Tony Gibson
Danica Patrick special firesuit for Breast Cancer Awareness
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Tony Gibson during National Anthem
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Tony Gibson
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Stewart-Haas Racing crew pulls the spare car for Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Gene Haas at the Haas F1 Team headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C.
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Stewart-Haas Racing cars of Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Tony Gibson is keeping the band together – but that might not include Danica Patrick.

For more than a dozen seasons, the veteran crew chief has been supported by the same cast of racers that were assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc. – and have survived through driver and ownership changes.

Looking back

“We came together in 2002,” said Gibson, who turns 50 next month. “So we’ve been together for a really long time. I know it was a relief for those guys, too, to know that everybody could stay there and everybody’s got a job and everybody can work and we can stay there as a group and continue on our little deal. That was big for me also.

My deal isn’t for one particular driver. It’s where I can be the most beneficial for the company and that’s kind of where we left it

Tony Gibson on future with SHR 

“It was a big deal trying to figure out a long-term plan. I was happy they came up with a plan and that they want me there long-term. I was really pleased. We sat down multiple times and everything was really positive. So they put together a plan for three years with an option for ’18. I just couldn’t be happier. I have six years invested there. I didn’t want to have to go somewhere else – and I didn’t want to go anywhere else. So I’ll be there through 2017.”

SHR career

Gibson has been at Stewart-Haas Racing since the beginning. Although he was originally assigned to Ryan Newman and the No. 39 team, Gibson was named crew chief for Patrick in her penultimate race of 2012 and has been with her ever since.

While there has been distinct improvement in her second full season in the Sprint Cup Series, rumors circulated last month that Patrick might be shopping for a new crew chief.

“That’s for Stewart-Haas and them to figure out,” Gibson said. “I told them when I signed up, I’ll do whatever they need me to do – wherever I need to be placed that they think I can do the best job, that’s what I’ll do. I don’t think any of that has been decided as far as I know. I know they’ll work on all that stuff and decide who needs to be placed where, for the best, and what makes the most sense for our company.

I came over (to SHR) in December of 2008 when we started building that deal at Stewart-Haas Racing. So I have a lot invested in there

Tony Gibson

“My deal isn’t for one particular driver. It’s where I can be the most beneficial for the company and that’s kind of where we left it.”

Patrick is currently 27th in the point standings – one position behind teammate co-owner Tony Stewart. She’s posted a career-high three top 10 finishes this season including a sixth-place result at Atlanta – a record best. On Sunday she led seven laps before finishing 19th.

Gene Haas not satisfied

Still, team owner Gene Haas believes that his teams could benefit from restructuring. Despite both Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick qualifying for Chase and posting four wins between them, he’s not pleased with the results.

“Kurt is a unique driver,” Haas said. “He has a lot of passion for what he does. That kind of driver requires some special members to make it work and I don’t feel we have the right combination. So we’re looking at that and make some changes on that team to make it work better. We’re really not happy. That team should have done better.

“Kevin Harvick’s team should have done better, too. He’s been fast all year long, seven or eight poles, leading a huge amount of laps, but we haven’t won as many races as we should. So, I think there’s a little bit of evaluation with all the teams, but that’s pretty common.”

Harvick’s season has been the highlight of SHR and would be considered successful by any standard. Busch’s first year with the team has been rife with inconsistency. He finished seventh on Sunday, his ninth top 10 of the season, but has been dissatisfied with the overall communication of the team. Traditionally, Busch has thrived with an old school type of crew chief such as Gibson.

Every driver is different

“Every driver is so different. Tony is so laid back. Kurt is so intense. Kevin is the happy guy, he’s like ‘I’ll just go out and do it’. Then Danica is very intellectual, she’s always analyzing things looking at everything through a microscope, trying to figure out what she can do different here. They’re all really unique people.”

And Gibson would be an asset no matter what team he was assigned to at Stewart Haas Racing. He’s encouraged by the gains the company has made in such a short period of time and looks forward to his future there.

In it for the long haul

“That was one of the biggest things,” Gibson said. “I came over there in December of 2008 when we started building that deal at Stewart-Haas Racing. So I have a lot invested in there. I have a lot of skin in the game at that place – and it’s a great place to work. To win a championship that fast and a ton of races and making the Chase and accomplishing the things we accomplish there, speaks a lot for our company.

“I’m looking to do the same thing going forward. It’s a really good deal for me. I’m glad they have faith in me. They want me there long-term, that makes me feel good. I don’t want to be anywhere where I’m not wanted. There wasn’t one time when we had any conversation where it was even a question whether they wanted me there or not. It was just a matter of what I’m going to do. So I’m pretty pleased.”

shares
comments
Winless Newman and Kenseth advance again in win-emphasized Chase

Previous article

Winless Newman and Kenseth advance again in win-emphasized Chase

Next article

Did Keselowski and the No. 2 team really win the Talladega race at Charlotte?

Did Keselowski and the No. 2 team really win the Talladega race at Charlotte?
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020