Two-time NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning crew chief Adam Stevens will not return to the No. 18 team as Kyle Busch’s crew chief in 2021, Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday afternoon as it unveiled its crew chief lineups for the upcoming season.
Ben Beshore will serve as Busch’s new crew chief, while Stevens shifts over to the No. 20 team and driver Christopher Bell in his first Cup Series season at JGR. Chris Gayle had been the crew chief of the No. 20 team with driver Erik Jones for the past three seasons.
The pairings of Denny Hamlin-Chris Gabehart (No. 11 team) and Martin Truex Jr.-James Small (No. 19) remain intact for the 2021 season. Hamlin and Gabehart have combined for 13 wins, two Daytona 500 wins and two Championship 4 appearances in two seasons, while Truex and Small scored a win at Martinsville in June in their first season together.
“We go through a process at the conclusion of every season that includes evaluating each of our teams,” said Joe Gibbs, in a team release. “We believe our crew chief lineup for 2021 will best position each team and driver for success across both series.
The 2020 season saw Busch go winless until the third-to-last race of the season at Texas — after he had been eliminated from the playoffs. The season marked the first time Busch and Stevens failed to reach the Championship 4 together after reaching that round the previous five seasons.
Together, the Busch-Stevens duo won 28 Cup races over the past six seasons and championships in 2015 and 2019. The pairing was first together in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2013-14 where the duo won 19 times. All told, Stevens has 31 Xfinity Series wins as a crew chief from 2011 to 2014.
Stevens’ shift to Bell will mark the first time the 25-year-old is not paired with Jason Ratcliff since 2017.
Beshore previously served as engineer on the No. 18 team before becoming a Xfinity Series crew chief in 2019. He filled in atop the pit box for Stevens for three races in 2017 and Busch nabbed one top five and three top 10s in those starts. He also teamed up with Busch for four wins in the Xfinity Series in 2019 before guiding Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Harrison Burton to a four-win campaign in 2020.
JGR also rounded out its crew-chief roster in the Xfinity Series, where it fields three full-time teams. Ratcliff rejoins the organization as crew chief of the No. 20 Toyota for Harrison Burton, the 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Ratcliff spent last season on the Cup Series side with Leavine Family Racing, teamed with Bell. He has 54 wins and one championship atop the pit box in the Xfinity Series.
Veteran Dave Rogers will return to the No. 18 Toyota team, but will be paired with Daniel Hemric, who was announced last week as a replacement for Riley Herbst. Jeff Meendering will continue to be partnered with Brandon Jones on JGR’s No. 19 team.
JGR also stated that it intends to field a fourth Xfinity Series entry — No. 54 — with a rotating cast of “all-star caliber drivers” on a part-time basis. Gayle shifts into that team’s crew chief role for 2021. The organization indicated that drivers and scheduled races for the No. 54 team will be announced later.
“We take a lot of pride in our depth of talent across our entire organization,” Gibbs said. “All of our crew chiefs are proven winners. We are also looking forward to bringing the No. 54 Toyota Supra back to the track in 2021 with an exciting team of drivers.”