Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that production manager Tony Gibson will serve as interim crew chief for the No. 4 Ford and driver Kevin Harvick for the rest of the season.
SHR made the announcement in conjunction with its decision not to appeal the L1-level penalties issued to the No. 4 team after its win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Those penalties included a two-race suspension for crew chief Rodney Childers.
Gibson, who turned 54 on Saturday, will return to the top of the pit box for this weekend’s events at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and the Nov. 18 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The longtime crew chief moved to the role of production manager before the 2018 season, taking control of vehicle fabrication for SHR’s four-car fleet and reducing his travel duties.
Gibson’s task will be to help guide Harvick through the final stages of his bid for a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Wednesday’s penalty for an unapproved spoiler carried a 40-point deduction that leaves Harvick just three points above the elimination line entering Sunday’s Can Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final event in the postseason’s Round of 8.
Harvick has nine career victories at the 1-mile Phoenix track, including the series’ most recent race there in March. Gibson scored his first premier-series win as a crew chief at Phoenix, converting a gutsy two-tire pit-stop call into a victory for Ryan Newman in April 2010.
Gibson revealed in August that he had suffered a stroke on July 6. He indicated that the illness affected his vestibular system, which relates to the balance and orientation functions through the eyes and ears. He returned to work after a six-week recovery period.
Gibson has been a less frequent visitor to the track in his current role, which is based in SHR’s Kannapolis, North Carolina, shop. Gibson served as a substitute crew chief for Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 team and driver Aric Almirola at Bristol Motor Speedway in April, filling in for Friday practice and qualifying while primary crew chief Johnny Klausmeier stayed home with family after the birth of his second child.