Hendrick Shuffles Crew Chief Lineup for 2005 3 Switch Teams; Gustafson Promoted; Whitesell Moves CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2004) - Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced key personnel changes affecting each of his ...
Hendrick Shuffles Crew Chief Lineup for 2005
3 Switch Teams; Gustafson Promoted; Whitesell Moves
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2004) - Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced key personnel changes affecting each of his organization's stock-car teams going into the 2005 NASCAR campaign.
Racing veterans Jim Long, Lance McGrew and Peter Sospenzo will each assume fresh responsibilities next season, while lead engineer Alan Gustafson has been promoted to crew chief. As part of the restructuring effort, team executive Brian Whitesell will also transition into a new role.
"With a new shop opening and drivers moving to different teams, it made sense for us to look at our organizational structure in a different light," Hendrick said. "These changes will create more opportunities for our folks and help us work together more efficiently."
GUSTAFSON TO LEAD KELLOGG'S RACING:
Gustafson, 29, has been named crew chief of Hendrick's No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolets, which next season will feature NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Kyle Busch as driver.
A native of Ormond Beach, Fla., Gustafson cut his racing teeth working as a mechanic at local short tracks in his home state while taking mechanical engineering courses at nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Gustafson moved to North Carolina in 1996 to pursue a career in motor sports, gaining experience with various teams before joining Hendrick's in-house chassis effort in 1999. He was named lead engineer for the No. 5 Cup Series team the following year.
LONG MOVES TO BUSCH SERIES:
After leading the No. 5 NEXTEL Cup team for the past three years, Long will slide into the crew chief position with the No. 5 Lowe's-sponsored NASCAR Busch Series operation. The team has earned a championship, eight victories and six pole positions over the past two seasons.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Long, 47, is going into his sixth NASCAR campaign with Hendrick Motorsports, including a two-year stint in the mid-1980s. The 2005 season will mark his 10th as a NASCAR crew chief.
An announcement regarding driving duties for the No. 5 Busch Series team is forthcoming.
McGREW AND VICKERS REUNITED:
A Baton Rouge, La., native, McGrew, 36, has been named crew chief of the NEXTEL Cup No. 25 GMAC Financial Services team, a move that reunites him with driver Brian Vickers. The duo already has an impressive track record, winning Hendrick Motorsports' first-ever Busch Series championship together in 2003.
After joining Hendrick in 1999, McGrew was soon named crew chief of the organization's part-time Busch Series effort, which quickly led to full-time positions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (2001) and Busch Series (2002-04).
SOSPENZO JOINS LABONTE EFFORT:
A three-time winner on the NEXTEL Cup circuit, Sospenzo will work exclusively with two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte as crew chief of the new No. 44 Hendrick Motorsports team, which will attempt a 10-race schedule in 2005.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sospenzo led the No. 25 NEXTEL Cup team to one victory, a pair of pole positions and 13 top-10 finishes over the past two-plus seasons. The 47-year-old came to Hendrick from Penske Racing in 2002.
WHITESELL NAMED TEAM MANAGER FOR 5, 25 & 44:
Whitesell, 40, will take on the newly created position of team manager for the Nos. 5, 25 and 44 NEXTEL Cup teams. A native of Stuarts Draft, Va., he most recently held an identical post with Hendrick Motorsports' Nos. 24 and 48 efforts.
Best known as one of the architects of Hendrick's No. 24 DuPont team, Whitesell has been with the organization since 1992, following a championship-winning stint with Alan Kulwicki Racing. He was named No. 24 team manager in 1999 and was a principal influence in building the No. 48 Hendrick squad beginning in 2001.
Shop foreman Mark Thoreson and lead engineer Darian Grubb will share Whitesell's former duties with the "24/48" operation.
The Nos. 5, 25 and 44 teams will be housed together in a new facility adjacent to the 24/48 building on the Hendrick Motorsports grounds. The new state-of-the-art shop is scheduled to open before the 2005 season.