Greg Erwin, the crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing car of Matt DiBenedetto, will be sitting out Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway after testing positive for COVID-19. Jonathan Hassler, an engineer for affiliate Team Penske, will serve as interim crew chief.
“Greg Erwin my crew chief caught the Rona so he is out this weekend as some of you may have seen,” DiBenedetto tweeted on Friday evening. “Jonathan Hassler will be on the pit box tomorrow night. Just wanted to update you all so nobody was caught off guard!
“Side note, Greg is feeling ok, nothing major”.
After working at Robby Gordon Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing, the latter of which saw him win five races with Greg Biffle, in the 2000s, Erwin joined the Penske camp in 2011. He moved to WBR in 2018 to work alongside Paul Menard, and remained as the team’s crew chief when DiBenedetto came aboard in 2020.
In their first year together, the Erwin/DiBenedetto pairing enjoyed the latter’s first career playoff appearance and a thirteenth-place points finish. However, they have endured a rough start to 2021 as they sit twenty-fourth in the standings and are still seeking their first top ten.
With Erwin out, Hassler will make his début as a NASCAR crew. After graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Hassler has worked as an engineer for Team Penske since 2008.
Hassler is the fifth interim Cup Series crew chief in 2021, the third from the Ford teams, and the second to take over due to COVID-19 protocols. The other three crew chiefs took over due to lug nut suspensions: Team Penske’s Jeremy Bullins (Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief) and Trackhouse Racing Team‘s Travis Mack (Daniel Suárez) were respectively replaced by Grant Hutchens and Jose Blasco-Figueroa at Atlanta, while Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Davin Restivo (Cole Custer) took over for Mike Shiplett at Vegas. At Homestad, Ryan Sparks, the crew chief for Corey LaJoie at Spire Motorsports, was taken out by COVID regulations and Steve Letarte filled in.