Hendrick Motorsports plucked crew chief Rudy Fugle away from Kyle Busch Motorsports on Monday to lead William Byron next season in the Cup Series.
Fugle has worked at KBM since 2013 and led the Truck Series program to two driver championships and five owner titles. His trucks have won 28 races.
Fugle will bypass the second-tier Xfinity Series and jump straight to the big leagues with Hendrick Motorsports. The 36-year-old will replace Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief moving into an executive competition role.
Fugle has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and began working in NASCAR in 2006. He’s a rare Hendrick hiring in that Fugle was not developed by the organization. Rick Hendrick has a long-standing and successful system of developing young talent into top-level crew chiefs, engineers and mechanics.
Hendrick has prided itself in young hires moving from jobs sweeping the floors into senior level positions. Hendrick is also the team that helped crew chiefs become stars in their own right, beginning with Ray Evernham’s high-profile pairing with rookie Jeff Gordon.
Evernham led “The Rainbow Warriors” on the popular No. 24 Chevrolet and started a factory that groomed Knaus, Steve Letarte, Alan Gustafson, Greg Ives and others into team leaders.
Fugle will be the first outsider to lead the iconic No. 24, now driven by Byron. Fugle and Byron worked one truck season together at KBM in 2016 when rookie Byron won seven races.
“The No. 24 has always been one of the premier teams in racing,” Fugle said. “William is a great talent, and we have a very strong working relationship. I’m confident in what this team can accomplish and look forward to the challenge of competing at the Cup level.”
Byron led 21% of the laps in his 2016 Truck Series season with Fugle and the truck won Busch the owner championship.
“I’m excited to work with Rudy again,” Byron said. “I’ve seen first-hand what he’s capable of, his competitive nature and the high standards he has. With Rudy, I believe we’ll have a chance to win every single time we go to the racetrack.”