Denny Hamlin will have both a new crew chief and car chief next season.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced Chris Gabehart as Hamlin’s crew chief Thursday, filling the spot Mike Wheeler held the previous three seasons. Wheeler and Hamlin announced their separation last month during championship weekend in Miami. Wheeler has since moved to Leavine Family Racing and the No. 95 team.
Gabehart steps up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after three years in the Xfinity Series. He spent the 2018 season working with Brandon Jones and the duo finished ninth in the standings. Gabehart has nine career Xfinity wins in 98 starts.
Eric Phillips will be the car chief on the No. 11 team, replacing Brandon Griffeth. Phillips, who is also moving into Cup from the Xfinity Series, guided multiple drivers in the No. 18 car last season. He has eight career Xfinity Series wins in 123 starts.
Hamlin had one of his worst seasons in 2018, going winless for the first time as a full-time driver.
“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,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “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.”
Additionally, JGR also revealed its crew chief lineup for the Xfinity Series and ARCA Racing Series.
After two seasons with Cole Custer at Stewart-Haas Racing, Jeff Meendering – Matt Kenseth’s onetime car chief — returns to JGR to replace Gabehart on Jones’ No. 19 Xfinity team.
Ben Beshore take over crew chief duties on the No. 18 car, replacing Phillips. Beshore most recently served as the car chief on Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Cup Series team.
Mark McFarland will be the crew chief of JGR’s ARCA Series entry.
“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 continued, “as well as bolster our developmental program in ARCA with the addition of Mark McFarland.”