NASCAR News for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Changes Made to No. 41 Cup Team Following Mayfield Suspension

After Jeremy Mayfield’s indefinite suspension for a failed drug test at Richmond was announced last weekend at Darlington, Mayfield Motorsports has had to make serious changes to continue running in the Sprint Cup Series.

Since Mayfield is an owner/driver, his ban means that not only has the team had to find a new driver for the No. 41 Toyota, it has had to find someone to act as the team owner as well since Mayfield cannot enter a NASCAR-sanctioned facility. Mayfield’s wife Shana will step up and become the owner of record for the team, an emergency move that may become permanent.

As for a replacement driver, the team announced on Tuesday that J.J. Yeley, formerly of Joe Gibbs Racing and Hall of Fame Racing, will drive the Mayfield Motorsports Toyota this weekend in the Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and for the foreseeable future.

“We didn’t want to be switching drivers every week,” Shana Mayfield told nascar.com on Tuesday. “The thing about J.J. that we really liked is he lives close to the shop and he came over [Monday] while we were there. He told the guys it wasn’t about money; he just wanted to race, he wanted another chance like Jeremy did when he started the team.”

RCR Initiates Crew Chief Switches for Nationwide Teams

On Tuesday, Richard Childress Racing announced a crew chief shift between their full-time No. 29 team and their part-time No. 2 team.

In this move, Doug Randolph, formerly the crew chief for Aric Almirola’s shuttered No. 8 Cup team will become the new crew chief for the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet that is shared by Jeff Burton, Stephen Leicht and Clint Bowyer.

Dan Deeringhoff will shift over from the No. 29 to become the crew chief for the No. 2 Chevrolet driven part-time by Austin Dillon. RCR claims that this move effectively puts Deeringhoff in charge of Dillon’s driver development. Deeringhoff will not only serve as Dillon’s crew chief in the Nationwide Series, but in whatever other series (Camping World East and West Series, ARCA Re/Max Series, etc.) Dillon competes in.

Finally, Dillon’s previous crew chief, Rich Lavalette, will stay with the No. 2 team as the team’s car chief under Deeringhoff.

Mike Dillon, RCR’s Vice President of Competition (a former racer in the now-Nationwide Series and Austin Dillon’s father), is happy with these developments.

“This will definitely enhance our Nationwide Series programs,” the elder Dillon said on Tuesday in a press release. “Our Nationwide Series program has been very successful over the past several seasons, but we felt like it was time for a change to get us back on the right track this year.”

The No. 29 team is currently ninth in the Nationwide Series’ owners’ point standings, 245 points behind the No. 33 team from Kevin Harvick Inc. The team’s best finishes have been a pair of thirds at Daytona and Bristol, both with Bowyer behind the wheel.

The No. 2 team has only attempted one race so far this season in the Nationwide Series, at Phoenix in April. In that race, Dillon started 35th and finished 34th, 30 laps down. Dillon also ran Saturday’s ARCA Re/Max Series’ Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 at Kentucky Speedway. In that race (in a No. 31 that was essentially the same team as his No. 2 in the Nationwide Series), he started 34th and finished 15th.

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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