Crew chief shuffle lands Johnston with Stewart

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange

Chad Johnston is the second Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief to find a home at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Johnston confirmed to and the team announced Tuesday that he has signed with Stewart-Haas Racing as crew chief for the No. 14 Chevrolet driven by Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Johnston joins fellow MWR colleague Rodney Childers, who in August left the No. 55 Toyota (to be driven next year by Brian Vickers) to accept the job as crew chief for Kevin Harvick's No. 4 SHR Chevy next year. Daniel Knost has been promoted from race engineer on the No. 39 team to crew chief for the No. 41 car of Kurt Busch. Tony Gibson remains as crew chief for Danica Patrick and the team's No. 10 Chevrolet. In addition, former crew chief Greg Zipadelli was named vice president of competition with all four crew chiefs reporting to him.
"It's a great opportunity for me to be put with someone like Tony Stewart who is a proven winner, a proven champion," Johnston told "Obviously, the expectations are high, so I'm looking forward to prove what I can do and prove that I deserve this position."
Johnston replaces Steve Addington, who has served as crew chief of the No. 14 for the past two seasons.
MWR's ill-fated attempt to manipulate the outcome of the final regular-season NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sept. 7 at Richmond ultimately left Johnston, driver Martin Truex Jr., and No. 56 team members with uncertain prospects for 2014.
Penalties to MWR led to driver Truex's ouster from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the loss of primary sponsor NAPA. Truex subsequently signed with Furniture Row Racing and brought his pit crew with him, and Johnston now has signed on with SHR, where he'll work with a driver who has 48 career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories and three series championships.
Stewart has been sidelined since Aug. 5, when he broke his leg in a sprint car accident in Iowa. Stewart has undergone three surgeries but was at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past weekend.
The 42-year-old owner/driver walked with the aid of a cane, participated in a fishing tournament at the track and visited Victory Lane to congratulate driver Jimmie Johnson and team owner Rick Hendrick on Johnson's sixth series title.

Keith Rodden, well-respected lead engineer for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Kasey Kahne, has joined Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as crew chief for the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, EGR announced.
Rodden replaces Kevin "Bono" Manion, who has been with McMurray since the driver moved from Roush Fenway Racing to EGR in 2010.
"I'm excited and appreciative for this opportunity and can't wait to be just a small piece of an excellent team that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is building," Rodden said via a team release announcing his hiring. "(Team owner) Chip (Ganassi) has quality people and is also building great race cars.
"This team has shown that they can win races and compete at the highest level of this sport, and I look forward to working with Jamie and everyone on the team as we work to prepare for the 2014 season."
McMurray won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race in 2010 but has only one victory since then -- in this year's Chase race at Talladega. All told, McMurray has seven career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins.

Elliott Sadler will be back in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with OneMain Financial as his primary sponsor, the team announced.
Sadler finished fourth in the NNS standings this season after moving to JGR from Richard Childress Racing.
"We've definitely got some things to work on, but we've definitely got some good things to build on as well," Sadler said Monday night at the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series awards banquet in Miami Beach.
As one of the positives, Sadler noted that his entire No. 11 team will return intact.
"All of it -- 100 percent," Sadler said. "That's great. That's what Coach (Joe Gibbs, team owner) and I and (team president) J.D. (Gibbs) were all talking about. We'll keep everything the same. We'll build on it. We felt like we had a lot of good runs there at the end of the season that we can build some momentum on and move forward.
"I'm looking forward to next year."

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, will reunite with crew chief Mike Kelley on the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team. Stenhouse and Kelley combined to win NASCAR Nationwide Series championships in 2011-12.
Kelley served as Trevor Bayne's crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this past season. Bayne finished sixth in series standings with a victory at Iowa Speedway among 21 top-10 finishes. Kelley is a longtime RFR employee and served as car chief for Kurt Busch's No. 97 team that won the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
"It's really exciting to team back up with Mike," Stenhouse said. "Obviously we have a great chemistry and we have had a great deal of success in the past."
Kelley succeeds Scott Graves with the No. 17 team. Graves moves to RFR's No. 60 NNS team with driver Chris Buescher. Veteran crew chief Chad Norris will take the helm of Bayne's No. 6 Ford. Seth Barbour was named crew chief for the No. 16 NNS Ford being driven full time in 2014 by Ryan Reed.
"As with any season, we always sit down at the end of the year and evaluate where we are, what we have and what we think are the best options to put our teams in the best positions to compete for wins and championships," said team owner Jack Roush.
RFR's remaining two NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs are unchanged for 2014: Matt Puccia with Greg Biffle's No. 16 team and Jimmy Fennig with Carl Edwards' No. 99 team.

What to Read Next