Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Dave Elenz will be the crew chief for the No. 43 Chevrolet driven by Erik Jones in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series.
Elenz makes the move from the JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevy team, which reached the Championship 4 with driver Noah Gragson in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs this year. At RPM, Elenz will replace Jerry Baxter, who has spent the last two years atop the No. 43 pit box — working with Bubba Wallace in 2020 and with Jones last season.
Elenz has 15 wins as an Xfinity Series crew chief, tying Jason Burdett for the most in JR Motorsports’ team history. His seven-year run included a pair of Xfinity Series championships — 2017 with William Byron and 2018 with Tyler Reddick.
“In 2001, when I started in NASCAR, my goal was to contend for a NASCAR Cup Series championship-title as a crew chief,” Elenz said in a team release. “The past seven years at JR Motorsports has prepared me for the next chapter in my career. Working with champion-caliber drivers like William (Byron), Tyler (Reddick), and Noah (Gragson) has not only fueled my desire to move up to the next level, but has also prepared me to the fullest for that next step.
“I appreciate Noah’s support and encouragement on this decision. I have immense gratitude for everyone at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports and their continued support over the years. I cannot thank them enough. I am excited to start my next chapter with Erik (Jones) and Richard Petty Motorsports.”
The 40-year-old Michigan native has paired the last three seasons with Gragson, scoring five wins together for the No. 9 group. Gragson finished 12th in Saturday’s Xfinity Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway, missing out on his bid for the championship claimed by first-time winner Daniel Hemric.
Gragson was among those wishing Elenz well after his final race with the team, echoing the thoughts of JRM team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I’ll miss him,” said Gragson, who added that he savored spending time with his crew chief in the next-to-last weekend together, carpooling before and after their clutch win at Martinsville Speedway. “He’s not going to be there, but he’s not going anywhere either in my personal life. Just thankful to get to know him over the years. Would love to have a good crew chief step in for us. We don’t really have anyone right now.”
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) November 5, 2021
Jones confirmed in August that he would return for a second season with the Richard Petty-owned organization. Jones finished 24th in the Cup Series standings, with six top-10 finishes in the 36-race season.