Team adds members from RCR Nationwide squads to improve weak point
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The No. 78 team confirmed Saturday that its over-the-wall crew will feature four new members for Sunday's event at Dover International Speedway, all of them coming from the NASCAR Nationwide Series program at Richard Childress Racing. Furniture Row and RCR share information through a technical alliance that also includes the use of Childress-built engines and chassis by the Denver-based team.
Busch is seventh in the Chase standings, 40 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Although he carried single-car Furniture Row into the playoff for the first time, Busch has been hampered repeatedly this season by issues on pit road -- including last weekend at New Hampshire, when a broken jack led to a long pit stop and an eventual 13th-place finish.
"As we have moved forward this year, the performance of the car has grown at a rate that has left our pit crew somewhat behind," said Furniture Row's general manager, Joe Garone. "Being in the Chase and competing against the cars we're competing against has prompted this change. The pit crew is made up of a solid group of athletes; however, we haven't been able to find the consistency that we need to be able to move forward on pit road. We want to give every effort we can to winning races, and have been loyal to giving enough time for the guys to solidify. However, the clock is ticking forward and we felt we needed to make a change and regroup. We have reached out to our partners at RCR, and they are letting us use the crew off the (No.) 2 Nationwide car as we continue to recruit and develop our own crew."
Sunday, four of the team's six over-the-wall crewmen will be new -- front tire carrier Thad Wymer, rear tire changer Jake Lind and jack man Brian Gainey will come over from the No. 2 Nationwide team of RCR driver Brian Scott, while rear tire carrier Josh Sobecki will be used from the No. 3 Nationwide team of driver Austin Dillon.
Prior to the Chase opener two weeks ago at Chicagoland, Furniture Row began using front tire changer Matt Humphries from Scott's team at RCR. Gas man Milan Rudanovic, who joined the No. 78 squad in the spring, remains in his position.
Furniture Row started its own pit crew this season after using one from Stewart-Haas Racing in past years. Although the team has made huge strides with Busch behind the wheel, it has been denied a trip to Victory Lane this season partly due to issues in and around pit road, like a slow final stop in the Sprint All-Star Race and a broken wheel hub last month at Bristol.
One thing Busch has enjoyed all season is speed. He was 11th in final practice Saturday at Dover, and will start the race from the ninth position. The 2004 champion of NASCAR's premier circuit is moving to a new fourth car at SHR next season. Without setbacks on pit road, the team has the chance to finish strong in Sunday's race.
Scott believes his regular crew is ready to step up and make that happen for the No. 78.
"They've earned the shot to go up there and pit those guys on Sunday," he said after finishing 11th in Saturday's Nationwide event. "And I'm thankful for the opportunity that they're going to have in the Sprint Cup Series. I think it will make them better in the Nationwide Series, and I think it will help Kurt's chances … in his bid for the championship. So I think it's a win-win. Definitely a very deserving group of guys. They've been pitting together forever, and they've got a lot of experience, and I hope to see them kick butt up there."