Kyle Busch and Adam Stevens may have won two NASCAR Cup Series championships together, but they will not continue their partnership in 2021. On Tuesday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced new crew chief assignments for the upcoming Cup and Xfinity Series seasons, with various changes while others stay with their 2020 drivers.
At the Cup level, Chris Gabehart and James Small will continue working with Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. on the #11 and #19, respectively. Such decisions were no-brainers as Hamlin enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons and a Championship Round appearance, while Truex reached the Round of 8 in his first season with Small.
Stevens moves to the #20 car of now-Cup sophomore Christopher Bell. Ben Beshore takes over as Busch’s crew chief on the #18; a former engineer for the #18, Beshore was Harrison Burton‘s crew chief in 2020, leading the rookie to four wins.
The changes come as a new era is ushered in for the #20 and #18 teams. In addition to a new crew chief, a new driver will be in the #20 as Bell moves over from the now-defunct JGR ally Leavine Family Racing. For Busch, despite his 2019 title, he endured a difficult 2020 campaign that saw him win just once late in the season.
At the Xfinity level, Burton’s new crew chief will be Jason Ratcliff, who worked with Bell at LFR in 2019. Dave Rogers, formerly JGR’s Xfinity technical director, will remain on the #18’s pit box as Daniel Hemric takes over the ride. Jeff Meendering, who spent 2020 with Brandon Jones and the #19 team, retains his position.
JGR will also reintroduce the #54 car on a regular basis for their Cup drivers. In 2020, the car ran five races with Busch and Hamlin, and was crew chiefed by team engineer Jacob Canter. The #54 won once at Charlotte, while a second victory at Texas was nullified by a disqualification. Chris Gayle, who was the #20 Cup car’s crew chief in 2020 with Erik Jones, will spearhead the operation.
“We take a lot of pride in our depth of talent across our entire organization,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “All of our crew chiefs are proven winners. We are also looking forward to bringing the No. 54 Toyota Supra back to the track in 2021 with an exciting team of drivers.”