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July 26, 2017

Bullins to follow Blaney to Penske, Erwin to crew chief Menard in 2018

RELATED: Blaney to drive third Penske car in 2018, Menard moving to Wood Brothers

Only hours after announcing new drivers for the 2018 season, both Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing confirmed Wednesday the crew chiefs that will guide both cars.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins will join driver Ryan Blaney with the new No. 12 Team Penske entry next year. The two are currently working together on the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford and have been longtime compatriots in Blaney’s career.

Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood confirmed that veteran Greg Erwin will serve as crew chief on Paul Menard’s No. 21 Ford in 2018.

RELATED: Bullins’ stats as a crew chief | Erwin’s crew chief stats

All involved say it was a natural and easy progression for the pairings.

“To work with Jeremy pretty much ever since I got here, to work with him on the XFINITY cars over to Cup cars and get to know him personally has been really beneficial,'” said Blaney, who currently drives the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, that Menard will take over next year.

“I think it says a lot when you can have a crew chief that you are personal friends with because you have that relationship and can communicate so easily. I think if you build that relationship, it makes you faster and better at the race track where you can figure things out. You get to know how they think.

“It’s been amazing to have him ever since my career got started and hopefully I can carry on with that for a long time.”

RELATED: Wood Brothers Racing through the years | 21 photos of the iconic No. 21 car

The Wood Brothers were equally as optimistic about pairing Erwin with Menard. Erwin is currently the crew chief of the No. 22 NASCAR XFINITY Series car for Team Penske (Brian Wilson will handle crew chief duties on the No. 22 XFINITY team in 2018) and has a wealth of experience atop the pit box in the NASCAR national series.

“He’s already in the Penske fold and that worked really well with Jeremy already having experience over here and knowing all the protocol and the way they conduct meetings and things they do behind the scenes,” Wood said. “Greg has already been a part of that. Len and I spent some time around Greg when he was over at Roush Fenway and got to know him so we’re looking forward to that.”

Menard said he actually has a previous working relationship with Irwin, one that dates all the way back to the early-2000s when he substituted a few times for driver Robby Gordon – whom Irwin worked with in 2005-06.

“I’ve known Greg since his Robby Gordon days,” added Menard, who moves to the Wood Brothers after spending the last seven years driving the No. 27 Richard Childress Chevrolet.

“I drove Robby’s car and qualified it a couple times when Robby was down (racing) in Baja so I’ve worked with Greg in the past and spent some time with him here recently.

“He’s a great guy and knows the systems over here.”