Chris Gabehart Confirmed as Denny Hamlin’s New NASCAR Crew Chief
Joe Gibbs Racing promoted Chris Gabehart from the Xfinity Series to replace Mike Wheeler in the big leagues.
Chris Gabehart will be the new crew chief for Denny Hamlin on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 2019, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Thursday. He replaces Mike Wheeler, who has moved to Leavine Family Racing to be crew chief for Matt DiBenedetto on the No. 95 Toyota team.
JGR promoted Gabehart to the Cup Series from its NASCAR Xfinity Series program. Along with Gabehart, Joe Gibbs Racing also promoted Eric Phillips from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series to serve as car chief on Hamlin’s No. 11 team.
“With such a short offseason it’s important to start work toward the 2019 season immediately and we are proud with the teams we have assembled now, both in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and in the Xfinity Series,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs said in a press release. “With Chris Gabehart joining Adam Stevens, Chris Gayle, and Cole Pearn on the Cup side, we believe we have the right leaders in place to benefit our entire organization."
Gabehart was a crew chief for JGR in the Xfinity Series for three seasons, most recently working with driver Brandon Jones. In 98 races as an Xfinity Series crew chief, Gabehart won nine, seven of them with Erik Jones. He guided Hamlin to an Xfinity Series win at Michigan International Speedway in 2017.
Gabehart has been crew chief for one Cup Series race, filling in for Mike Wheeler atop Hamlin’s pit box at Richmond Raceway in Virginia in 2017. Together, he and Hamlin finished fifth.
Jeff Meendering replaces Gabehart as crew chief of JGR’s No. 19 team in the Xfinity Series after working for Stewart-Haas Racing as Cole Custer’s crew chief on the No. 00 Ford team in the Xfinity Series in 2017 and 2018. Ben Beshore is the new crew chief on Joe Gibbs Racings’ No. 18 team in the Xfinity Series, replacing Phillips. Beshore formerly was an engineer on JGR”s No. 18 Cup Series team of Kyle Busch.
“We take a tremendous amount of pride in our accomplishments in the Xfinity Series and are excited to have Jeff Meendering and Ben Beshore join Jason Ratcliff to lead our efforts there,” Gibbs said.