Joe Gibbs Racing is giving Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 team a significant boost to their chances to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship next season.

Chris Gabehart, who won nine races over the past three seasons as a crew chief in the team’s Xfinity Series program has been elevated to crew chief for Hamlin’s team. Eric Phillips, who posted eight victories as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series will assume car chief duties.

The 2018 season was the first in which Hamlin failed to secure a single victory. Crew chief Michael Wheeler departed last month to join Leavine Family Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing responded with new key additions.

"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," said Joe Gibbs, Owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "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."

With the graduations, two new crew chiefs have been elevated to the Gibbs Xfinity program.

Jeff Meendering will take over for Gabehart to lead the No. 19 Xfinity team with driver Brandon Jones. Meendering spearheaded the Stewart-Haas No. 00 Xfinity Series team with driver Cole Custer the past two years.

Ben Beshore will advance from the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Cup Series engineering team to replace Phillips as the crew chief for the No. 18 Xfinity Series program.

Jason Ratcliff will remain the crew chief for the No. 20 Xfinity program with driver Christopher Bell.

The JGR ARCA program with drivers Riley Herbst and Ty Gibbs will also see a change with crew chief Mark McFarland taking over after spending time at MDM Motorsports.

"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, as well as bolster our developmental program in ARCA with the addition of Mark McFarland," Gibbs said.

Source: Autoweek

December 6, 2018