KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) Stewart-Haas Racing said Wednesday it will swap the teams of Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch after this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway.
Tony Gibson and the crew he has had since 2002 will move to Busch's No. 41 team beginning next week at Texas Motor Speedway. Daniel Knost, crew chief this season for Busch, will move his group to Patrick's No. 10 team. SHR said Knost will be interim crew chief.
The pit crews for the two drivers are remaining unchanged.
''We made this change to evaluate our program and to get a head start on 2015,'' said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing. ''With the ban on testing next year, the last three races of this season take on even greater importance. For Tony Gibson and Kurt, they'll get three races together that will provide direction for next year. And for Daniel Knost and Danica, this is an opportunity for them develop a rapport that could potentially continue into 2015.''
Busch, in his first season with SHR and driving a brand new fourth car, won at Martinsville in March to earn a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He was eliminated after the first round, though, and has not had good chemistry with Knost. Busch has snapped at Knost several times over his radio the last few months.
Patrick has shown marked improvement under Gibson the last two months, and led seven laps late at Talladega on Sunday.
In 70 Sprint Cup races dating back to the last two races of the 2012 season, Gibson helped Patrick to her first career pole in the 2013 Daytona 500 and her best career finish of sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August.
It's the second personnel move Zipadelli has made since the Chase began: He gave Kevin Harvick the 2011 championship-winning crew from Tony Stewart's team at the start of the Chase to give Harvick a better shot at the title.
Harvick has advanced to the third round of the Chase, and is the only SHR driver racing for the Sprint Cup championship.