There are no changes to Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sprint Cup driver lineup for 2102, but several key positions changed hands, bringing two new crew chiefs to the fold as well as giving Michael McDowell an expanded Nationwide Series role. McDowell will run a limited schedule in the No. 18 NNS Pizza Ranch car while Brian Scott returns to that series full time in 2012 with sponsorship from Dollar General. In addition, development driver Darrell Wallace, Jr. will race a few select Nationwide races. Kyle Busch will not race in the Nationwide Series for JRG at all this yer, but will make 15 starts in his own car. Busch will not race in the Camping World Truck Series this year, though he will field the No. 18 for Jason Leffler and possibly other drivers to be announced later.
In the Cup garage, Jason Ratcliffe will take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano after the departure of Greg Zipadelli to Stewart-Haas Racing and reigning Cup champion crew chief Darian Grub takes the reins for the No. 11 team and driver Denny Hamlin. Dave Rogers and Kyle Busch enter 2012 as the only pair to have worked together in 2011. Hamlin says that his confidence level is at an all-time high as new racecars and a new crew chief give Hamlin a renewed faith in his program. Logano says that he is working hard on improving himself as a driver and he’s excited to work with Ratcliffe. “This is going to give me a fresh start,” said Logano Monday on the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour. “I can kind of make it more my team, and that’s a big deal.” Logano also noted that despite the fact that his contract is up after this year, he is confident. “There might be more pressure to perform, but I feel like I can do it, more than I could last year, even. So they sort of balance each other out.”
Joe Gibbs told the media that all of the team’s 2011 sponsors have signed to return for 2012, providing stability for the entire team. This includes M&M’s and Interstate Batteries on the No. 18, FedEx on the No. 11, and Home Depot on the No. 20. Dollar General announced that it would join JGR’s sponsor fold this year last October.
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