At Championship Media Day in Florida, Tony Stewart hinted at changes for Stewart-Haas Racing. On Monday, the team made those changes public. The No. 4 team for Kevin Harvick and the No. 41 team for Kurt Busch will remain unchanged. However, the Nos. 10 and 14 will see new leadership.
Michael Bugarewicz has been named the new crew chief on Stewart’s No. 14. He replaces Chad Johnston, who left the team immediately after Homestead to take over as Kyle Larson‘s crew chief at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. For Bugarewicz, it is his first crew chief position. Previously, Bugarewicz served as an engineer on the No. 4 team under Rodney Childers.
Billy Scott will take over as crew chief on Danica Patrick‘s Nature’s Bakery/TaxACT Chevrolet as well in 2016. Scott comes over to the team from Michael Waltrip Racing, where he spent a year and a half as crew chief on the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota. In that time, Scott worked with Brian Vickers, David Ragan, Brett Moffitt and team owner Michael Waltrip. After a crew chief switch in June, Scott spent the rest of the season as Clint Bowyer‘s crew chief for the No. 15 team, guiding the lame duck team into the Challenger Round of the Chase.
Scott replaces Daniel Knost atop the pit box. Knost has been promoted to the position of Manager of Vehicle Dynamics within the team. Knost will oversee the team’s technical efforts from the shop in North Carolina. According to the team’s press release, Knost will be focusing on track simulation and racecar performance in his new role.
Despite his own team’s struggles recently, Stewart is upbeat heading into his final season as a driver with these changes.
“We have great people at Stewart-Haas Racing and these changes prove that,” Stewart said on Monday. “We were able to promote from within while also adding new talent.
“Change isn’t easy, and that’s particularly true when it comes to my relationship with Chad Johnston,” Stewart continued. “He served as my crew chief during two very difficult seasons. He was always supportive and he’s become like a brother to me. I think very highly of Chad and wish him nothing but the best in his new opportunity.”
In 2015, SHR was a tale of two strong teams and two mediocre teams. Harvick won three races and finished second 13 times on the way to a second-place finish in points to Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch, despite being suspended for the first three races of the season, won two races and finished eighth in points. Meanwhile, Patrick finished 24th in points with only two top-10 finishes. It’s still her best season in Sprint Cup, but the improvement has been slow in coming. Stewart had the worst season in his career in almost every statistical category, finishing 28th in points with only three top 10s.
The changes noted above take effect immediately as the teams get ready for the 2016 season at the SHR shop in North Carolina.