Stewart-Haas Racing announced Friday that Chad Johnston has joined the team as the new crew chief for the No. 41 Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Preece in 2023. Johnston replaces Mike Shiplett, who had been the team's crew chief for the past three seasons alongside driver Cole Custer.
Johnston, a Cup Series crew chief since 2011, returns to Stewart-Haas Racing after previously serving as crew chief for Tony Stewart from 2014 to 2015. Johnston's first stint at SHR came in-between tenures at Michael Waltrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing, where he won seven times as crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Johnston and Stewart earned three top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in their time together towards the tail end of Stewart's Hall of Fame career.
Johnston had worked the past two seasons for David Gilliland Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series, where he was paired together with Preece for a total of eight races. The two won twice at Nashville Superspeedway while also earning six top fives and seven top 10s.
"It's great to have Chad back with our race team," read a statement by Greg Zipadelli, chief competition director at SHR. "A lot of the people he worked with when he was here before are still here today, and he already has a rapport with Ryan Preece. Chad fits in seamlessly and has a tremendous work ethic."
Johnston and Preece will be tasked with turning around a No. 41 team that has underperformed compared to the other teams under the Stewart-Haas Racing umbrella. After Custer earned his first career win, two top-fives and seven top-10s en route to Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, the No. 41 team earned just two top-10 finishes in all of 2021 and a meager three in 2022. Custer has been moved down to the Xfinity Series for 2023, where he will be paired with crew chief Jonathan Toney.
The rest of Stewart-Haas Racing's crew chief lineup will remain unaltered for the 2023 season. Rodney Childers, Drew Blickensderfer, and John Klausmeier will continue to serve in their roles for drivers Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, and Chase Briscoe respectively.