SHR hasn't made any decisions about 2018 crew chief lineup yet

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SHR hasn't made any decisions about 2018 crew chief lineup yet
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Nov 9, 2017, 6:33 PM

Greg Zipadelli said the 2018 crew chief line up for Stewart-Haas Racing is still a work in progress.

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Billy Scott, crew chief for Danica Patrick
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Tony Gibson
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

Tony Stewart’s proclaimed during the Aric Almirola press conference on Wednesday that Billy Scott and his crewmen—currently with Danica Patrick—would remain with the No. 10 team next season as Almirola transitions into the seat.

Not so fast, said Zipadelli.

The former championship crew chief turned competition director for SHR told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio later in the day he’s in no rush to formulate a plan.

“We haven’t made those decisions yet,” Zipadelli said on Dialed In with Claire B. Lang. “That was kind of the plan, but we’re looking at everything right now. How do we take the people that are in house? How do we move them around? How do we make Stewart-Haas stronger?

“In all honesty, Billy and that group may end up there. Then they may end up somewhere else. I’m non-committal to that. We’re looking at how we mix and match personalities and try to motivate everybody and get everybody to the level that Rodney (Childers) and Kevin (Harvick) are. It’s about building that relationship, building that trust and that team. And that’s what we need to do with the rest of those guys.”

For Zipadelli and SHR, there are still a lot of decisions to be made, particularly with the No. 41 team and driver Kurt Busch, who as of yet has not been re-signed by the team. When asked about his contract after winning the pole at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday, Busch offered, “No updates for me. We are in negotiations. Days like today help quite a bit.”

Tony Gibson's future

Busch’s crew chief, Tony Gibson, has said for months that he’s looking to get off the road, which adds another unknown to the equation. And given the tenor of the relationship between Clint Bowyer and Mike Bugawericz this season, along with the No. 14 team’s failure to qualify for the Playoffs, a fresh start for that pair wouldn’t be out of the question.

Zipadelli, who won the 2002 and 2005 Cup titles with Stewart, understands the necessary chemistry needed to assemble a winning team. He remains optimistic, particularly with the transition from Chevy to Ford in the rear view mirror.

“We’re in a good position,” Zipadelli said. “We have a lot of good guys. We’ve got a lot of good drivers. It’s about, we need to be better than we were this year. Part of it was the switchover. Part of it was having to take over a lot of the responsibilities that we counted on HMS (Hendrick Motorsports) for in the past. Everybody has done a good job of taking on those responsibilities and getting better throughout the year.

“But we need all four of our teams to run at the (same) level. We need four teams to be capable of competing for the (Playoffs) next year. If that’s moving some people around, then that’s what we’ll do. My guys are really supportive of it. I’ve talked to all of them. They don’t seem to be worried about it. They all have jobs.They’re all going to work for Stewart-Haas. But our concentration and focus right now is supporting the 4 car (Harvick) with anything they need for the next two weeks as a company, all of our teams. Then shortly after that, we’ll switch gears and start working on next year and a little bit bigger picture.”

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Series NASCAR Cup
Author Lee Spencer
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