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Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s lead engineer leaving team to become Xfinity crew chief

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.


FORT WORTH, Texas – Kevin Meendering, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lead race engineer for the past five seasons, will become Elliott Sadler’s crew chief in the Xfinity Series next season, JR Motorsports confirmed Saturday.

The news was first reported Friday night by Jim Utter of The team hasn’t made a formal announcement because of sponsor considerations in making its 2016 plans official.

Meendering became Earnhardt’s engineer when Hendrick Motorsports swapped personnel with the No. 24 team of Jeff Gordon after the 2010 season, making Steve Letarte the crew chief for Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet.

Since 2011, Earnhardt has enjoyed a career renaissance, scoring seven victories and making the Chase for the Sprint Cup in five consecutive seasons.

Meendering’s move will follow a recent pattern of Hendrick Motorsports team members leaving for roles at JRM, which is co-owned by Earnhardt and receives engines and technical support from Hendrick.

Greg Ives, current crew chief for Earnhardt, was the engineer for Jimmie Johnson’s run of five consecutive championships before taking a crew chief role at JRM for two seasons. Jason Burdett was the car chief on Earnhardt’s No. 88 from 2011-14 before joining JRM to become Regan Smith’s crew chief this season.