JR Motorsports announced today that Mike Bumgarner will be the crew chief for driver Michael Annett on the No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet in 2021. The 45-year-old North Carolina native returns to the pit box after a seven-year stint as the team’s director of race operations from 2014-20. Prior to assuming that position, Bumgarner was a full-time crew chief for the team in 2013.
“Mike is the type of person that will do whatever it takes to get the job done,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JRM. “He has been a big part of all three of our NASCAR Xfinity Series championships in a variety of roles, and returning him to the crew chief position of our No. 1 team is huge for JR Motorsports. Mike is a natural leader that I know our group will rally around, and I can’t think of anyone better to lead the No. 1 team with Michael Annett.”
Bumgarner, a native of Huntersville, N.C., has 64 starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series on his resume since 2007, including four victories, and was a NASCAR Cup Series car chief in the past at Hendrick Motorsports. Bumgarner most recently called the shots atop the pit box for JRM in September of 2018, leading Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a fourth-place finish at Richmond Raceway. Bumgarner was also on the No. 9 team’s pit box at Michigan earlier that year, guiding eventual series champion Tyler Reddick to a seventh-place finish while subbing for Dave Elenz. In 2016, Bumgarner’s skills were called upon as a fill-in for Kevin Meendering in the inaugural winner-take-all championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with driver Elliott Sadler. Sadler eventually finished third in the race and second in the championship.
“I’m very excited to be the leader of the No. 1 team here at JR Motorsports,” Bumgarner said. “What the team has established over the last few years with Michael and Travis Mack…they’ve made a lot of gains. Travis did a heck of a job with the team and they got better, and I am looking to add to that. Looking at where those guys ended the 2020 season, I want to continue on that path in 2021.”
In his position as race operations director, Bumgarner was responsible for getting JRM’s cars prepared on a weekly basis in conjunction with the individual teams.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big change,” Bumgarner said of the transition. “If anything it’s going to help me be better. I haven’t been able to go to the race track and see what things are going on. You try to learn as much as you can from what the teams bring back to the shop and add that to our cars. Being more involved is a positive and I’m excited for that, being able to go to the track again. I’ll have to learn the stage-racing side of it, and I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
Bumgarner comes to the No. 1 team a season after Annett set a career high in top-10 finishes with 22, three better than the previous mark of 19 set in 2019. The latter season also included the Iowa driver’s first career NXS victory at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener.
The 2020 season was one of steady consistency for the No. 1 team, as Annett challenged for victories at both Daytona and Talladega in the stretch run and had a second-place finish taken away in post-race inspection at Talladega. In the season finale at Phoenix, Annett earned a season-best fourth-place finish and ended the season ninth in series points.
“Mike is a great addition to our No. 1 Pilot Flying J team,” said Annett. “The respect he has throughout the organization and the sport is second to none. We know him and how he works, and he has been instrumental in the building of our cars as a company. I am looking forward to the 2021 season and continuing our mission to earn another championship for JR Motorsports.”
Further details regarding the No. 1 team at JR Motorsports will be announced at a later date.
— JR Motorsports —