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Ford out at JGR

Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday that Mike Ford has been released from crew chief duties on the No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. The No. 11 car is driven by Denny Hamlin.

“Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our No. 11 team,” Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs said in a written statement. “We’ve decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities.”

After a 2010 season that saw the duo of Hamlin and Ford content for the Sprint Cup title before finishing out that season second in points with eight race wins, 14 top-fives and 18 top-10 finishes, the No. 11 team struggled in 2011, posting a single win and only five top-five finishes in 36 races. Hamlin barely made the Chase in 2011 and finished out the year 10th in points.

In the six full season Hamlin and Ford worked together, the pairing produced 17 wins, along with 66 top-fives and 108 top-10 finishes (Hamlin scored three additional top-10s during a partial 2005 campaign).

JGR said on Tuesday that there would not be an immediate announcement regarding Ford’s replacement, but popular speculation lists 2011 championship crew chief Darian Grubb as a possibility.

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Photo of Mike Ford (left) and Denny Hamlin courtesy of NASCAR Media.

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