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HAMPTON, GEORGIA - JULY 10: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, stands on the grid during pre-race ceremonies prior to  the NASCAR Xfinity Series Credit Karma Money 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2021 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
HAMPTON, GEORGIA - JULY 10: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, stands on the grid during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Credit Karma Money 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2021 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

UPDATE: Dave Elenz Not Returning to Crew Chief Noah Gragson in 2022, Joins Richard Petty Motorsports

UPDATE (11-10-2021): Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) announced today that Dave Elenz will join the organization as crew chief of the No. 43 Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, piloted by Erik Jones, for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) campaign.

The Gaylord, Mich.-native, is a seven-year NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) veteran crew chief – including five full-time seasons with JR Motorsports. The 2022 season will mark Elenz’s first full-time season as crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series.

As crew chief, Elenz won back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series championships with William Byron in 2017 and Tyler Reddick in 2018. In 228 NASCAR Xfinity Series combined starts, Elenz has recorded 15 victories, 77 top-five finishes and 149 top-10 finishes.

“In 2001, when I started in NASCAR, my goal was to contend for a NASCAR Cup Series championship-title as a crew chief,” Elenz said. “The past seven years at JR Motorsports has prepared me for the next chapter in my career. Working with champion-caliber drivers like William (Byron), Tyler (Reddick), and Noah (Gragson) has not only fueled my desire to move up to the next level, but has also prepared me to the fullest for that next step.

“I appreciate Noah’s support and encouragement on this decision. I have immense gratitude for everyone at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports and their continued support over the years. I cannot thank them enough. I am excited to start my next chapter with Erik (Jones) and Richard Petty Motorsports.”

A graduate of Clemson (S.C.) University, Elenz began his career at Jasper Racing in 2001. The 40-year-old held tenure at Ginn Racing from 2003 to 2007 and at Red Bull Racing Team from 2009 to 2011. At Red Bull Racing Team, Elenz was a part of the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory (Michigan) in 2009 as the lead engineer.

In 2012, Elenz joined Hendrick Motorsports as an engineer. Working alongside crew chief Chad Knaus, Elenz was an engineer on Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning team in 2013. Elenz joined JR Motorsports as a crew chief for the 2015 season.

“I have watched Dave’s career develop, and I have always been impressed with him as a person and as a competitor,” Philippe Lopez, competition director for Richard Petty Motorsports, said. “As a race engineer, he has won races and a championship in the NASCAR Cup Series, and as a crew chief he has won races and championships in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a very diverse group of drivers. I am very excited to have him take on the role as crew chief for Richard Petty Motorsports as we rollout the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2022 season.”

— Richard Petty Motorsports —

Original Post (11-5-2021):

By Dustin Albino

PHOENIX — Since Noah Gragson began competing full time at the NASCAR Xfinity Series level with JR Motorsports in 2019, Dave Elenz has been his crew chief. The duo will break up for the 2022 season, Gragson confirmed on Thursday at Championship 4 Media Day. 

Gragson said Elenz will take a crew chief job in the Cup Series. Multiple sources have indicated to Jayski.com that Elenz’s new role will be with Richard Petty Motorsports, leading the way for Erik Jones. 

“At first, I was like, ‘He’s leaving me,'” Gragson said. “It’s good to have change and new opportunities and work with somebody else. You 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.”

Together, Gragson and Elenz have won five races, the first of which came in the 2020 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Entering the championship race this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, the No. 9 team has won three of the last nine races, including a walk-off win last weekend at Martinsville Speedway to be  part of the Championship 4.

In five Phoenix starts, Gragson has a best effort of second, coming in the championship race last weekend. 

Prior to being Gragson’s crew chief, Elenz won back-to-back Xfinity Series championships with William Byron (2017) and Tyler Reddick (2018). He has a total of 15 victories as an Xfinity Series crew chief. 

Moving forward, Gragson doesn’t know who his crew chief will be for the 2022 season. He said that on the plane ride to Phoenix, he was asked by Allen Hart, engineer of Justin Allgaier’s No. 7 car, if he had a clue. 

“I want somebody who is pretty cool, maybe not stuck up and serious,” Gragson said with a laugh. “I feel like Dave Elenz, we’re really good at communicating and we make the race weekends fun. We’re almost so on the same page that we can joke around. 

“I know a lot of guys will say, ‘I don’t know,’ but they really know.’ I seriously have no idea.”