News & Media


JTG Daugherty announces split from MWR

October 23, 2011, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- JTG Daugherty Racing is leaving the nest.

The Toyota race team, which had previously operated as a satellite program to Michael Waltrip Racing, is moving into its own shop for the 2012 season and has added some new faces to support driver Bobby Labonte next season. Todd Berrier, formerly of Richard Childress Racing, will come aboard as crew chief and general manager, while Laerte Zatta from Toyota Racing Development will serve as director of engineering.

"I don't see why we can't go back into our race shop and be better than we are now, because I don't think we can do any worse, to be honest with you."

--BRAD DAUGHERTY

Frank Kerr, crew chief on the No. 47 car this season, will shift into the role of shop foreman as the team moves into co-owner Tad Geschickter's facility in Harrisburg, N.C. Since its founding in 2009, JTG Daugherty has operated as a de facto third car out of MWR, which is adding its own third driver in Clint Bowyer for next season

"I think what we gain, and what's been very import to us, is our own identity," co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "... It's tough. It hurts almost to be called a satellite team, or Michael Waltrip's stepchild, or all that kind of stuff. Because we're our own race team. So it's important to us, because we spend a lot of money on this, we work hard to be the best product we can. So we get our identity back."

Although the move to Geschickter's shop will likely require the addition of a few more employees, Daugherty said much of the infrastructure for a standalone effort is already in place. TRD will provide the team's engine sets, and the engines will be assembled by Jon Dysinger at Triad Racing Technologies. Where chassis will come from is yet to be determined, although Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, and MWR are all possibilities.

Berrier joins the team after spending almost two decades at RCR, where as a crew chief he made the Chase four times and won both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 with Kevin Harvick. "I feel like for sure we have a chance to win a race or two next season," he said.

That would represent a step up from how JTG Daugherty has performed this year. Labonte has recorded one top-five finish, that coming in the Daytona 500, and was 29th in points entering Sunday's Sprint Cup event at Talladega Superspeedway. JTG Daugherty's struggles have mirrored those of MWR, which has also made several changes in hopes of improved performance next season.

"I've been very disappointed in what we've done this year," Daugherty said. "We're embedded in the Michael Waltrip program, and as they have gone, we have gone. As they have faltered, we have faltered. It's seemed like we have even faltered more during the race than they have. We qualify decently and run OK for a while, but once we start adjusting our race car, it seems like we just go back, back, back. I don't think we can be any worse. ... I don't see why we can't go back into our race shop and be better than we are now, because I don't think we can do any worse, to be honest with you."