The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro will have a new crew chief for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Dave Elenz will part ways with Noah Gragson after the championship race at Phoenix on November 6 (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), ending a relationship that began in 2019.
Gragson confirmed the news during the championship weekend media day on Thursday, November 4. He said that Elenz will move up to the NASCAR Cup Series and work with an unnamed team. According to Jayski’s Dustin Albino, multiple sources have indicated that Elenz will join Erik Jones at Richard Petty Motorsports, but the organization has yet to confirm this partnership.
“At first, I was like, ‘He’s leaving me,’” Gragson said during his media availability on November 4. “…It’s good to have change and new opportunities and work with somebody else. You kind of get so comfortable, but maybe there’s some other avenues and other things to look at that a different crew chief looks at and you can learn from them too.
“You can take what you learned from Dave, but learn from the new crew chief too and almost be double as good as you already are. It’s great for Dave. I know he’s always wanted to be a crew chief in the Cup Series and it’s exciting for him. I’m happy for him and his family. Definitely bummed I’m not going to be with him next year, but excited for his future.”
Gragson Has Spent His Entire Xfinity Career With Elenz
The driver of the No. 9 is closing out his third full-time season in the Xfinity Series, which he has spent entirely with JR Motorsports. He has worked with Elenz as his crew chief for 98 of his 101 starts, resulting in five wins, 41 top-five finishes, and 70 top-10s.
Gragson has improved each season with Elenz calling the shots. He reached the Round of Eight in 2019 and finished the season eighth in the standings. Gragson returned to the semifinal round in 2020 and finished fifth in the points. Now he has his first opportunity to contend for a title.
Once the championship race comes to an end, Gragson will embark on a new path for the 2022 season, his fourth in the No. 9 Chevrolet. He does not yet know who his crew chief will be. He explained to media members that there are some drivers that will say that they “don’t know” any details despite having some knowledge, but he reiterated that he “seriously” has no idea.
Elenz Has Multiple Championships on His Resume
If Gragson can cap off his 2021 season with a win at Phoenix and the first championship of his career, he will mark another major moment in Elenz’s career. The crew chief enters the championship weekend with two Xfinity Series titles on his resume, and he could add another at Phoenix.
The 2017 season featured William Byron turning in a dominant performance for JR Motorsports. He put the No. 9 Chevrolet in Victory Lane a series-high four times and posted 12 top-five finishes. He didn’t win the championship race, but his third-place finish was enough to secure his title.
One year later, Elenz partnered with Tyler Reddick. The duo combined for two wins, including the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. Christopher Bell has a series-high seven victories, but Reddick and Elenz ended the season as the champions after winning the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Along with locking up two titles as a crew chief, Elenz worked as part of a championship organization in the Cup Series. He worked as an engineer for Hendrick Motorsports on both the No. 88 and No. 48 teams. He was part of Jimmie Johnson’s team during the 2013 season which featured six victories and the veteran driver’s sixth championship win.