Truex Jr. gains new crew chief

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Associated Press
The NASCAR notebook…
CHARLOTTE ó Martin Truex Jr. will have a new crew chief beginning this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Lead engineer Chad Johnston was selected Tuesday as crew chief for Truexís No. 56 Toyota. He replaces Pat Tryson, who was reassigned to another position at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Tryson announced right before the start of the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship that he was leaving driver Kurt Busch and Penske Racing at the end of the year to move to MWR to crew chief Truex.
But Tryson was never able to create the same success with Truex, who goes into Sundayís race ranked 21st in the Sprint Cup standings with just three top-10 finishes this year. Truex was 22nd in points last year, with only one top-five.
Frustrations got the best of Truex last month at Richmond, when he angrily fired his crew over his team radio following a botched final pit stop at Richmond. That led to changes on his over-the-wall team the next week. Now Tryson is out, replaced by the 31-year-old Johnston.
Johnston joined the team midway through last season, and Truex said heís provided important help in setting up his Toyotas.
ěHeís shown a lot of leadership in his position and has shown me he really understands a race car,î Truex said in a statement. ěHe also understands all of the tools at his disposal here at Michael Waltrip Racing since heís an engineer. His personality and mine mesh really well. We get along great, and he really understands what I am saying.
ěHe is extremely good at pulling more information from me to get the answers to questions he has when setting up the car. The communication between he and I is impressive, and we just click. Iím looking forward to what all we can accomplish together as a team.î
CHARLOTTE ó Kasey Kahne will be sponsored by Farmers Insurance when he joins Hendrick Motorsports next season.
The team said Tuesday that Farmers Insurance, which currently had a five-race deal with HMS, will sponsor 22 Sprint Cup races for the next three seasons. The company will replace as primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet.
That should allow to focus solely on whatever Danica Patrick decides to do next season.
ěItís extremely positive when a company of this caliber sees the value of NASCAR and immediately wants to do more,î said team owner Rick Hendrick. ěFarmers will have an excellent spokesperson in Kasey, and weíre committed to putting him in a position to win races and championships. Our organization is proud to extend this partnership, and we look forward to a very bright future with everyone at Farmers.î
Kahne has represented insurance company Allstate when he was a driver at Gillett Evernham Motorsports.
HMS still has 12 races left to fill for Kahne. The team already has in place a deal with Quaker State to sponsor four races a year in 2012 and 2013.
Farmers Insurance also holds the naming rights to the planned professional football stadium in Los Angeles, a PGA tour event at Torrey Pines and a tennis event in Los Angeles.
CHARLOTTE ó Tommy Baldwin Racing will field a car for Geoffrey Bodine in five races this season.
The 62-year-old Bodine will try to make the race at Daytona next month for TBR in the No. 35 Chevrolet. The team says it has sponsorship from U.S. military healthcare provider Luke Associates, Inc.
Bodine will also attempt to make the races at Charlotte, Talladega, Texas and Homestead.
Bodine made his Cup debut in 1979 and won 18 races over 26 years.
He made one start last season, finishing 41st in a Baldwin-owned car at Pocono. He made just 23 laps in a start-and-park car.