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Ryan Pemberton, a longtime NASCAR crew chief whose career included two Cup Series wins as well as three Xfinity Series wins, died on Sunday. He was 54.

Originally a crewmember for Robert Yates Racing's No. 28 team and Hall of Fame driver Davey Allison, Pemberton earned his first crew chiefing job in 1995 with Martin Racing in what was then the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. Pemberton guided veteran driver and former series champion Larry Pearson to a career renaissance with two wins en route to a sixth-place finish in the points standings. In 1997, Pemberton would be tabbed as crew chief for the newly-formed MB2 Motorsports Cup team, working with drivers like Derrike Cope and Ernie Irvan over the next three seasons.

After a three-year stint at Jasper Racing working with drivers Robert Pressley and Dave Blaney from 2000 to 2002, Pemberton returned to MB2 Motorsports in 2003 and oversaw a challenging period: After Jerry Nadeau suffered career-ending injuries in a near-fatal crash at Richmond, Pemberton's No. 01 team would piece together the rest of the 2003 season with several drivers before eventually settling on Joe Nemechek, who proceeded to drive for them for the next three seasons. Pemberton earned his first Cup win as a crew chief with Nemechek at Kansas in 2004, and the two would earn five top fives and 20 top 10 finishes overall in their time together.

In 2007, Pemberton was paired with Hall of Famer Mark Martin, and the two came painfully close to their greatest glories in the Daytona 500. Martin was leading on the final lap and seemingly in control with half a lap to go when a spectacular surge from Kevin Harvick led to a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag with Martin losing in a photo finish. Pemberton and Martin had five top fives and 11 top 10s in a partial schedule, but Pemberton would ultimately leave the team at season's end after it fell apart due to financial problems under owner Bobby Ginn.

After one year working with David Reutimann at Michael Waltrip Racing, Pemberton spent the next three years at Red Bull Racing primarily with Brian Vickers. Their best season together would come in 2009, with Vickers winning at Michigan that August after successfully executing a late-race fuel strategy on Pemberton's watch. Vickers finished the year 12th in points with five top fives, 13 top 10s and six poles, the best season of his Cup career.

Pemberton's last season as a crew chief came in 2012 when he reunited with Blaney at Tommy Baldwin Racing, and again came very close to Daytona 500 glory. When Blaney momentarily took the lead staying out under caution, a freak accident involving Juan Pablo Montoya and a jet dryer caused a fire in turn 3 that damaged the racing surface and threatened to end the race with Blaney out in front. However, the track was repaired and the race ran to its conclusion, with Blaney finishing 15th.

Pemberton would then spend a decade at the Xfinity Series level with JR Motorsports, where he worked primarily as director of competition while also serving as the full-time crew chief for Regan Smith in 2014. Smith and Pemberton would win the season opener at Daytona before finishing the year with seven top fives, 26 top 10s and a career-best second-place finish in the championship standings. Pemberton's last race as a crew chief would come at Road America in 2018 with driver Michael Annett, but he remained a great influence on the organization and the team's drivers before leaving JR Motorsports in 2022.

"Ryan Pemberton was instrumental to JR Motorsports' success during the decade he spent with us," CEO of JR Motorsports Kelley Earnhardt Miller said in a statement. "He had such a passion for competition and, as a leader, knew how to motivate everyone he worked with. He will always be part of the JRM family. Our hearts go out to his wife Andrea and daughters Payton and Britton during this tremendously difficult time."

Pemberton was preceded in death by his brother Randy, who was a popular NASCAR broadcaster and pit reporter before his unexpected death in 2022. He is survived by brothers Robin Pemberton, a longtime NASCAR crew chief and later NASCAR vice president of competition, and Roman Pemberton, a NASCAR spotter.