News & Media

Notes: Ratcliff awaits Kenseth; 88 team ready

September 09, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service,

RICHMOND, Va. -- The way crew chief Jason Ratcliff sees it, he still has plenty of unfinished business this season with driver Joey Logano, but that doesn't keep Ratcliff from looking forward to next year with relish.

Jason Ratcliff (Getty Images)

Ratcliff will stay with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team when Matt Kenseth succeeds Logano in that ride. JGR's best efforts to put Logano in a fourth Sprint Cup car stalled for lack of funding, and Logano found a new home at Penske Racing.

"I'm looking forward to it," Ratcliff said of his imminent association with Kenseth. "I got to talk to him recently for the first time, and I think he could have a huge influence on the organization. With the experience he has, there's no substitute for that, and I'm looking forward to what he has to bring to Joe Gibbs Racing."

Ratcliff, in his first season as a Cup crew chief, still has 11 races left with Logano. Together, they engineered Logano's second career Cup win this season, at Pocono.

"We all wish that Joey was staying," Ratcliff said. "I'm just glad he's got a good opportunity [with Penske]. But we still have 11 races left, and he's done a great job."

Letarte says Junior, 88 team ready for Chase

If you didn't pay much attention to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s performance last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you weren't alone. Earnhardt struggled early and wasn't a factor in the outcome of the race.

However, to crew chief Steve Letarte, the performance of the No. 88 team -- from the driver to the crew on pit road -- had enormous significance.

"We got down early, we were running in the 20s, and we came back to finish seventh," Letarte told the NASCAR Wire Service on Saturday. "We proved last week that this team is ready for the Chase. No one is going to have 10 great races in the Chase, so it's what you do with the days that aren't great that makes the difference."

NASCAR delivers terse reminder at Richmond

NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton had three short phrases for Cup competitors before Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, the race that would set the field for the Chase.

"Keep it clean, keep it fair, keep it square," Pemberton said at the drivers' meeting two hours before the scheduled start, indicating that the sanctioning body prefers to see the playoff field determined without shenanigans on the race track.