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Thread: McSwain out as Labonte's crew chief

  1. #1
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    McSwain out as Labonte's crew chief

    HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Joe Gibbs Racing released Michael McSwain from his duties as crew chief of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nextel Series.

    McSwain joined Joe Gibbs Racing in December 2002 and served as Bobby Labonte's crew chief for the 2003 season and the first 18 races of the 2004 season.
    "Over the past two years, Michael McSwain has worked extremely hard for Joe Gibbs Racing," J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said. "This was a difficult decision, but it was time to go in a different direction. We appreciate all that he has done for the team and wish him the best of luck in the future."

    McSwain, 37, scored victories with Labonte in 2003 at Atlanta (spring) and the season-finale at Homestead-Miami, en route to an eighth-place finish in the point standings.

    "Joe Gibbs Racing and I had a successful relationship," McSwain said. "I wish them the best the remainder of the year and in the future."

    An interim crew chief will be named in the near future.

    Jimmy Makar, senior vice president of racing, will assist the team and the interim crew chief while team officials search for McSwain's replacement. Makar served as crew chief on the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet from 1992-2002, winning the 1993 Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett and the 2000 Nextel Cup Championship with Labonte.

    "We hope to make the decision on a permanent crew chief in the near future, but we are going to take our time to find the best person for the job," Gibbs said.

    Labonte has 2,278 points and is sixth in the Nextel Cup Series standings. He trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 442 points and trails fifth-place Matt Kenseth by 43 points.

    "Michael did a great job when he came in and took over for Jimmy Makar after the 2002 season," Labonte said. "We won a couple of races in 2003 and won some poles. He works hard, and I wish him success down the road."

    The next race for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series is the New England 300 July 25 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

    Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, fielding two NASCAR Nextel Cup Series teams for drivers Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, and two NASCAR Busch Series teams for drivers Mike Bliss and J.J. Yeley.

    Based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Joe Gibbs - a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and current coach of the Washington Redskins - the team has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning two Cup Series championships and more than 40 NASCAR races, including the 1993 Daytona 500 and the 2000 Brickyard 400.

    Michael McSwain (left) with JGR team manager Jimmy Makar. Makar was Bobby Labonte's crew chief from 1991 to 2002
    http://aolsvc.sports.aol.nascar.com/...ain/index.html

  2. #2
    I <3 Megatron! football_chick's Avatar
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    Wow - I didn't see that coming.

  3. #3
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    He's my son's favorite driver. I'm waiting to hear from son. I sent him a link I found yesterday where it was rumored. Seems strange when he's sitting 6th in points right now.

  4. #4
    I <3 Megatron! football_chick's Avatar
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    I agree - this article on NASCAR.com said he was surprised by his release.

    McSwain surprised at release from Gibbs
    By Marty Smith, Turner Sports Interactive July 14, 2004
    11:11 AM EDT (1511 GMT)


    Michael McSwain was aboard a Komatsu D41 bulldozer Wednesday morning, grading land on his remote North Carolina farm and digesting the fact that he'd just been released from Joe Gibbs Racing.

    As he chugged along, the phone wouldn't stop ringing. Media. Concerned fellow crew chiefs. Job offers.

    "I've got some friends with Mitchell Equipment Company, and they were going to let me use a bulldozer all week. I was planning on being out here doing that, but I wasn't planning on the phone ringing off the hook while I was trying to do it," McSwain chuckled.

    "I'm out here on the bulldozer, answering the phone. I need me one of those headsets. That way I can keep bulldozing while I'm answering all these calls. It's alarming to us all, you know? I'm disappointed, of course. But it's the nature of the beast. What're you going to do?"

    McSwain plans to take a week off to further evaluate his options and determine why he was let go. He says he simply doesn't know.

    "It's no different than anybody else -- we've had good weeks and bad weeks, but it was a big surprise, I'll give you that," he said. "It really was. I can't say we didn't do good together, because we did. We had some success together.

    "Sometimes, though, things work out and sometimes they don't. It was as big a shock to me as it was the rest of the world. If we were 25th in points I probably wouldn't be so disappointed. But being in the position we were in (sixth), it's disappointing."

    McSwain joined Joe Gibbs Racing in December 2002 and served as Bobby Labonte's crew chief for the 2003 season and the first 18 races of the 2004 season.

    During his 54-race tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, McSwain led Bobby Labonte to two victories, one at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the other at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both wins came during the 2003 season. The Interstate Batteries Chevrolet has yet to win in 2004, but has tallied five top-fives and nine top 10s in 18 starts.

    "I've tried to pride myself over the past five or six years - the teams I've been with, we've been in the top-10 in points every year. It was no different here," McSwain said. "It was that way last year and was going to be that way again this year, it looked like. So to take all that and put it by the wayside was pretty tough.

    "The thing I want to emphasize is, out of every situation you always want to move forward. Whether it's forward together or forward separately, you always have to move forward. I want everyone to have success - just not as much success as I (have)."

    McSwain doesn't anticipate he'll be out of work long.

    "I wouldn't think so. I don't know. It's a funny business," McSwain said.

    "I think I've done pretty good at what I do. Crew chiefs are like drivers - we believe we're the best at what we do or we wouldn't be as intense as we are.

    "But when things like this happen, it's definitely not an encouraging thing. I hope not to be out long. I'll probably take a week or so just to clear my head, because I'm pretty startled.

    "Sometimes it's hard to solidify chemistry between two people. It doesn't mean you don't have some, and we didn't have any unbearable disagreements or conversations.

    "I don't want to get really deep into it, but I think, far as I was concerned, we got along professionally well. I'm pretty startled that it happened the way it did."

  5. #5
    FORT Fogey joeguy's Avatar
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    that is just plain weird, his team is in 6th place and they replace him? too strange, must be something in the background we don't know about and they aren't talking about.

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