The NASCAR notebook …
CHARLOTTE ó Kasey Kahne will take his longtime crew chief with him to Hendrick Motorsports next season.
Team owner Rick Hendrick announced Wednesday that Kenny Francis will crew chief the No. 5 Chevrolet that Kahne is slated to drive starting with the 2012 season. Kahne and Francis have been together since the final race of 2005.
ěOur people have a lot of respect for Kenny and what heís accomplished,î Hendrick said. ěWe know the chemistry is already there with Kasey, and thereís no doubt Kenny will communicate very well with our folks. Heís a character guy who brings an awful lot to the table as a crew chief.
ěWhen we look at ëfit factor,í itís a great situation.î
Francis will replace Lance McGrew. Heíll also be involved in special projects, which will include the development of the Chevrolet that will be used in the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2013 season.
ěBefore the season started, I told Mr. Hendrick I was open to any role he wanted me to play moving forward,î McGrew said. ěMy goal has always been to contribute to the long-term success of this company however I can, period.î
McGrew has been with Hendrick since 2000, and is currently crew chief for Mark Martin.
Kahne said early last season he had signed with HMS to replace Martin in 2012. Although Francis was not legally tied to him, the two are so closely associated itís been assumed Francis would go wherever Kahne went.
Richard Childress Racing has made a crew chief change for slumping driver Jeff Burton.
Luke Lambert will replace Todd Berrier effective immediately. Lambert has been the engineer on Burton’s No. 31 Chevrolet since 2008.
Burton made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship last season, but he’s 25th in the points standings. He doesn’t have a top-10 this season, and has finished 20th or worse 12 times.
Team owner Richard Childress says Lambert will be on an interim basis until further notice.