Waltrip hires Pemberton to direct Reutimann; Andrews, Pappas also onboard

Updated: December 15, 2007, 6:41 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Waltrip Racing has hired three new crew chiefs, including Ryan Pemberton.

Pemberton, who left Dale Earnhardt Inc. earlier this week, will be the crew chief for David Reutimann. Paul Andrews, who will work with Waltrip, and Bill Pappas was hired to lead MWR's third entry.

"The degree of difficulty in our monumental start up in 2007 was evident and standing flat-footed heading into 2008 was not an option for us," Waltrip said. "I could not be more proud of the recent developments. MWR is here to stay and I think these moves show our commitment to long-term success."

Waltrip had a rough first season as a team owner, with his three cars struggling to make races. Dale Jarrett, Reutimann and Waltrip combined to qualify for just 64 of 108 races.

He's worked hard to improve his program, bringing on a partner while adding a new technical director and a director of business operations. Now he's shaken up the leadership of his three teams by bringing in new crew chiefs.

Pemberton spent last season working with Mark Martin, and was scheduled to do so next year before leaving DEI. He'll replace Frank Kerr on Reutimann's team.

"Michael Waltrip Racing is a team that's growing and I want to be a part of that," Pemberton said. "I have respect for this team because I know how hard it is to start up an organization from scratch.

"There's a lot to overcome just to make it to the race track when you are developing a new program especially of the magnitude they did. I can appreciate all of their hard work and dedication last season."

Andrews will direct the No. 55 car for Waltrip. Andrews, who won the 1992 Cup title with Alan Kulwicki, also has served as crew chief at Penske Racing, Roush Racing and Petty Enterprises. Andrews replaces Buddy Sisco.

Pappas comes from the Indy-car ranks, and worked with Chip Ganassi Racing and Panther Racing. He was the lead engineer for Juan Pablo Montoya's 2000 Indianapolis 500 victory.

He will direct the No. 44 car when Jarrett starts the season and then move to the No. 00 car. No driver has been announced for that team, yet, but MWR development driver Michael McDowell is considered the top candidate.

Pappas replaces Jason Burdett, who left to become Jeff Gordon's car chief.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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