Greg Erwin back as Penske's full-time Xfinity crew chief
Greg Erwin is returning to his role as crew chief of Team Penske’s full-time Xfinity Series squad.
Erwin, who led Joey Logano and the No. 12 team to the win at Watkins Glen earlier this month, will replace Brian Wilson on the No. 22 team effective immediately.
When we look at the overall performance on the 22 car, we’ve been trying got figure out for some time what changes to make.
Tim Cindric, Team Penske President
Erwin has been a utility player with Team Penske since joining the organization in 2013. Prior to that, Erwin won five Cup races with Greg Biffle at Roush Fenway Racing. In addition to his crew chief duties in both Sprint Cup and NXS at Penske, Erwin most recently oversaw the organization’s Xfinity program.
“He had been the team manager in that role,” Penske president Tim Cindric told motorsport.com of Erwin. “But for us, having the direct crew chief responsibilities, he had been directly involved but he hasn’t called the shots on race day, the set-ups of the cars and such things have really been under Brian’s watch.”
Team Penske’s No. 22 squad is currently fifth in the Xfinity owner’s standings, 63 points behind Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 team. In 22 starts, the combination of Keselowski, Logano and Ryan Blaney have earned eight top fives and 17 top 10s, but have yet to win.
Cindric said the move wasn’t related to the No. 22 team’s 24th-place run at the Glen or last weekend’s fuel pick-up issue at Bristol, where Brad Keselowski was leading the race in over-time when the car appeared to be running out of gas. Penske is simply hoping to improve execution.
“When we look at the performance on the 22 group overall, we’re not convinced that it’s any one thing. Certainly, Brian isn’t directly to blame. But unfortunately in this business, you have to change things until something becomes right. Sometimes it’s chemistry, sometimes it’s physics. It can be a lot of different things.
“We felt like both cars were competitive at Watkins Glen. It was any guy’s race. When we look at the overall performance on the 22 car, we’ve been trying got figure out for some time what changes to make. We’ve made quite a few and we still feel like we have a sixth or seventh-place car for the most part. But these considerations were prior to the event the other night at Bristol.”
Wilson still a valuable member of Team Penske
Wilson, a former team engineer for Penske’s championship-winning squad, will remain in a competition role and serve as crew chief for the 12 NXS team when the company runs two cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway later this year.
“He’s still involved,” Cindric said of Wilson. “He won’t go to the Xfinity races in the near future. When you make a change like this you need to establish complete autonomy and accountability. But he’ll still be part of our competition department.
“He wanted to make the move to crew chief this year and we felt like it was a good time to do that. Obviously, the results haven’t met our expectations or anyone else’s. So we have to keep changing things until we get there.”
Cindric added that Wilson remains a valuable part of the organization and is under consideration for the second crew chief’s positions when Penske adds a full-time Xfinity team in 2017. As for selecting a new Xfinity driver, Cindric expects an announcement later this year.
“We just feel to be competitive at the front end, trying to have a one-car team, the team’s that are competitive are performing every weekend. It’s hard to do that with a one-car team. So we felt like we had to run the 12 car more often or figure out a way where we could run the 12 car full-season and that’s certainly our goal.
“As far a driver, I would be very surprised if we make that decision in the next couple of months. I think that’s going to be towards the end of the season before that becomes obvious which way we go.”
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