by Mike Snow - Orleans Racing
Las Vegas – (May 5, 2005) -- Following the fifth race of the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series campaign Orleans Racing has begun a reorganization of key personnel. The changes involved the crew chief and truck chief of the #77 Jasper Engines Dodge.
Effective immediately Orleans Racing has announced the departure of crew chief, Billy Wilburn and truck chief, Travis Sharpe. No replacements for the two have been named.
“Billy Wilburn is from the east coast,” said team co-owner and driver, Brendan Gaughan. “It was a long way away for him to go to come out here and he really wants to be a Nextel Cup crew chief. So we sat down right before the St. Louis race and it was an amicable decision.
“It wasn’t anything where I was mad at him for non-performance or he was made at me as a driver,” Gaughan added. “It was personal reasons and he wanted to get back home and take care of some things. So we left on great terms and we went out with a great race, too.”
Thanking Wilburn for his contributions, Gaughan offered, “The Orleans Racing team has been working really hard since I came back and trying to get us better race trucks, brand new race trucks. We brought Billy Wilburn in to help clean our shop up and get things dialed in. It was fantastic having Billy Wilburn there because what happened was it let Charlie Wilson get back to the work of crew chiefing. Billy Wilburn came in and started basically cleaning all the pieces and parts up.
“We got rid of the different steering boxes. We got rid of all the different parts that we didn’t need. It allowed Wilburn to clean our stuff up and Charlie to crew chief for Steve and really make sure the trucks were solid. It worked out as a great team.”
Managing Orleans Racing’s technical arm will be Charlie Wilson. Wilson, who has one win already in the 2005 season with driver, Steve Park has the full confidence of Gaughan to continue the reformation of Orleans Racing.
“Now it’s on to the next step,” says Gaughan on the future of Orleans Racing. “Charlie Wilson is going to take a little bit bigger role inside the race team. He’s going to make sure my trucks are set up certain ways and take care of both sides in the shop while we search for a new crew chief.
“Fortunately because I have that much confidence in Charlie I’m not in a big hurry to name the first person. A few people have contacted us and we’re contacting a few people and we’re still looking for who we want as a replacement. Like I said, I’m very fortunate that the Orleans team has such a good crew chief and a great team that we’re not sitting here panicking and saying, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do?’”
Wilson has already taken several steps that should help the performance of both the #62 The Orleans Dodge and the #77 Jasper Engines Dodge.
“We just got some great results from the wind tunnel,” notes Gaughan on Wilson’s first assignment. “We found out some big, huge things that the Orleans team was missing. That’s thanks to Dodge for opening up their wind tunnel time. That’s why we’re part of their program. We found huge mistakes on our part that we’re fixing.
“At Mansfield, of course, the wind tunnel results mean nil. Right after that we go to Lowe’s Motor Speedway and after the struggle we had with the No. 77 during our recent test some of the stuff that Billy Wilburn fixed on the way out and what Charlie Wilson just found at the wind tunnel means the Orleans team really feels like we’re going to be able to go there and compete now. I’m really excited about that.”
Continuing to explain his vision of the future of the Orleans Racing effort Gaughan said, “Confidence in Charlie is going to be big and then maybe we’ll call in some old friends to maybe just call the next two races for us while we hunt for the right crew chief for Orleans team.
“We’re talking about expanding. We’re talking about growing. A lot of good things are going to be coming out of the Orleans team soon,” added Gaughan. “Fortunately the folks at Jasper Engines are one hundred percent confident in our abilities and let us run our team. They knew that we had some issues that we needed to work through and they’ve stuck with us while we’re working through them.
“We’re going to start trying to win some races.”