Leavine: Kahne crew chief change a necessary step

Image by Gavin Baker/LAT

Leavine: Kahne crew chief change a necessary step


Leavine: Kahne crew chief change a necessary step


Leavine Family Racing owner Bob Leavine says the team “just needed to make a change” when it came to naming a new crew chief for Kasey Kahne.

LFR announced during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series off weekend that Jon Leonard would guide Kahne and the No. 95 team effective immediately. Travis Mack had been Kahne’s crew chief for the season’s first 15 races, joining the organization from Hendrick Motorsports. It was the first time Mack had been a Cup Series crew chief while Leonard now takes over from his role of team engineer.

“It wasn’t just off the cuff; it was well thought out,” Leavine told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday night. “I kept Kasey in the loop continually because when I hired him last year it was about giving him the best car that we could, and I just didn’t feel we were doing that. And you just can’t keep doing the same thing if you expect different results.”

Leavine said Kahne has been doing a great job from his perspective. Calling Mack a “fine young man,” Leavine expressed appreciation for what he did for the team.

Going into the first road course race of the season Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway, Kahne is 28th in points with no top-10 finishes. He has led just 13 laps.

“We’ve just got other things we’ve got to accomplish,” Leavine said. “I just couldn’t live with continuing on and telling Kasey every weekend that, hey, we’ll do this better, we’ll get better. And we weren’t. We’ve had some bright spots — we’ve had some good cars and we just seemed like we went from one end to the other spectrum … the consistency wasn’t there.

“We have a good group of young people and I just felt we needed to make the change to change the pace, change our luck.”

Jon Leonard (Image by Nigel Kinrade/LAT)

Leonard does have previous experience as a crew chief. Last year, he called five races for previous LFR driver Michael McDowell.

In the team’s pre-race report, Leonard said being a leader and bringing the team together is what will bring them success.

“I’m really looking forward to what this No. 95 team can achieve for the rest of the season,” said Leonard. “We have a good bunch of guys who want to compete with the big boys — and that’s what we’re here to do starting this weekend.”