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DATE News (chronologically)
01/13/09
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Loomis to run racing operations at GEM-Petty
Robbie Loomis will serve as the executive director of racing operations for the team that will emerge from the merger of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings, and Kevin Buskirk and Sammy Johns will join existing GEM crew chiefs Kenny Francis and Mike Shiplett atop the pit boxes. All four crew chiefs will report to former Petty executive Loomis, according to GEM Director of Competition Mark McArdle. McArdle believes the planned merger and the realigned staff will help his team. Just having Richard Petty and longtime wrenchman Dale Inman at the team’s test last Friday in Rockingham, N.C., at the old North Carolina Motor Speedway was a plus, McArdle said. Loomis, who reports to McArdle, will oversee the race teams, pit crews, team management and team transport, and he ran the Rockingham test.

The merger and other departures have resulted in several changes at GEM with only Kahne and Kenny Francis remaining as the same driver-crew chief combination as last year. Kahne’s #9 team has had the fewest changes. Francis remains as crew chief. Keith Rodden returns as the team engineer after a one-season absence from the road, replacing engineer Chad Johnson, who moved to Michael Waltrip Racing. Todd Devinich remains the car chief.

On Sadler’s #19 car, Buskirk, most recently of Dale Earnhardt Inc., will be the crew chief in a reunion of sorts since he was the lead engineer for Sadler when he made the Chase at Robert Yates Racing in 2004. Kevin Kidd returns as the team engineer, while Wally Rogers, a former Kevin Harvick Inc. employee who joined GEM as its Nationwide Series crew chief in September 2008, will be the car chief. McArdle says most of that team has changed. He said he didn’t want to lose crew chief Rodney Childers, who opted to move to Michael Waltrip Racing and work with David Reutimann.

On Sorenson’s #43 car, Shiplett enters his second year as a crew chief after spending last season with the #10 team, mostly with drivers Patrick Carpentier and AJ Allmendinger. Phil Surgen will be the race engineer, and Tony Lunders will be the car chief. Surgen worked with Shiplett last year, while Lunders was with the #19 team last season. Many members of the #19 team from last year are now working on the #43 car, McArdle said.

Johns, who had been GEM’s executive director of operations for the shop, will work with the fourth team and likely with driver AJ Allmendinger. Although GEM hasn’t announced Allmendinger’s hiring, Johns and Allmendinger will be working together at a Goodyear test on Tuesday and Wednesday at Phoenix International Raceway. Mike Wolf will be lead engineer and Brian Dantinne moves from research and development to the role of car chief. In other changes, McArdle will take over the supervision of the engine department, while Tommy Wheeler will delve more into research and development. He will focus on the building of the race cars. As far as engines, McArdle said the team would not use the new Dodge engine until later in the season. SceneDaily

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