When 23XI Racing made the decision to hire its own pit crews rather than relying on Joe Gibbs Racing to provide them, Shipplett’s original strategy was altered. Josh Shipplett, who was 33 years old, planned to work as a tire bearer on pit road for another five years. He was given the responsibility of developing 23XI Racing’s pit crew program and was made the team’s pit coach.
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A former tire carrier is looking to build 23XI Racing's pit crew program as its coach this year.
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Speaking to NBC Sports Josh Shipplett said that
“Coaching opportunities in this series don’t come available every day. To be able to do it from scratch and build something the way that 23XI believed in and I also believed in, I knew it was going to be hard, but in my thoughts, it would have been a lot harder to go somewhere else and change a philosophy they already had. To have this opportunity to start from new and have the coaching opportunity was something that probably wasn’t going to happen, so I had to jump on it.”
One of the major plot points this season will center on the performance of Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and the 23XI Racing pit crew. Last season the crew chief made Bubba Wallace lose so miserably. Denny Hamlin, the co-owner, has stated that one objective for this season is to enter both cars in the playoffs. The efficiency of the pit crew’s work will be crucial.
It would be considered a risk to appoint a member of the pit crew with no coaching background to oversee a new initiative, but 23XI Racing didn’t perceive it that way. Speaking about the issue president of 23XI Racing, Steve Lauletta told NBC Sports that
“I think it is part of how we are looking at everything here. We have an engineer that worked in DTM (German grand touring car series). We have a mechanic from Formula One. It’s the way Denny is looking at it. This is where his input is so beneficial. He’s been around it long enough and he has a vision of how he wants the leadership and the people here to work together, collectively as one team in 23XI.”
He added that
“I think he’s got a good eye at picking talent. It doesn’t mean how many teams have you worked for, it’s can you do what we want to do here? Can you look at it in a different way? Can you innovate how it’s done? What’s your approach rather than what’s your experience.”
Having more seasoned team members was one of the key adjustments Denny Hamlin wanted to make to the pit crew this season. Speaking out about the change Denny Hamlin told NBC Sports that
“We will continue to develop younger talent down the pipeline, but we don’t have the time to develop them at the racetrack. We need the results now and quickly. We want to continue on a good trajectory.”
Those that possessed the experience were hired by Shipplett. Of the 10 members of the pit crew, only three worked for 23XI Racing the previous year. Others came from Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Team Penske, and Hendrick Motorsports.
Wallace’s pit crew has changed from what it was at the beginning of last season: Josh Pech is the fueler, Austin Dickey is the jackman, Adam Hartman is the rear tire changer, and Brad Donaghy is the tire carrier. Last year, only Paige worked for 23XI Racing, and he was assigned to the No. 45 car.
Reddick’s pit crew will be Houston Stamper, Brian Bottlemy, Wade Moore, Nathan Ricketts, and Brian Dheel for changing tires on the front and back tires, respectively. In the inaugural season of 23XI Racing, only Dheel and Stamper competed.