The popping crew chief shuffle of 6 January 2020 continued with the Richard Petty Motorsports camp. On Monday, the team announced Jerry Baxter would take over as crew chief of Bubba Wallace‘s #43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
In the late 2000s, Baxter served as the crew chief in the Toyota stable with Michael Waltrip Racing in what is now the Xfinity Series. After spending the 2012 Truck Series season at Eddie Sharp Racing with Cale Gale (who finished twelfth in points with a win), Baxter partnered with rookie Wallace for the first time at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Together, the two won five races in 2013 and 2014 with a third-place points finish in the latter.
“During our time together, he trusted what I did as a crew chief, and trusted himself more and more, and we got better and better as we went,” Baxter said. “This is an incredible opportunity, and change is good. Having the confidence of Bubba and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports means a lot to me. I am excited about working with Bubba again, and the foundation Richard Petty Motorsports has in place with their group of guys.”
Wallace departed KBM for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2015, while Baxter stayed with KBM. In 2016, he and Christopher Bell finished third in the championship, his final season with the team before heading to GMS Racing in 2017, where he has spent the last three years. Baxter worked with Kaz Grala in 2017, followed by Cody Coughlin, Tyler Dippel, and Timothy Peters in 2018. In 2019, he and Brett Moffitt won four races en route to a Championship Round appearance and another third-place run in the standings.
In 185 career Truck races, Baxter has enjoyed fifteen race wins. From 2004 to 2011, he also has one win in the now-Xfinity Series with David Reutimann. The Reutimann/Baxter combination ended the 2007 season with a runner-up championship finish.
In contrast to his accolades in the lower series, Baxter has not seen much action as a Cup crew chief, though he has experience in the premier series as a chassis builder. His latest stint came in 2000 with Robby Gordon.
Wallace has finished twenty-eighth in the Cup standings in both of his full-time seasons. In 2019, he and rookie crew chief Derek Stamets, who was previously the team’s lead engineer, recorded just one top ten when they finished third at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“[Baxter] has been a great mentor, and even better friend, since we were able to work together in 2013 and 2014,” Wallace added. “I am excited to see him get this opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series, and use our past success to take this team to new levels.”