A significant milestone start is in the making for Luke Lambert, crew chief for Chris Buescher and the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang team in the NASCAR Cup Series. By participating in this Sunday’s Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lambert will call his 300th event atop the pit box in NASCAR’s premier series.
A native from Mount Airy, North Carolina, Lambert grew up as a race fan and briefly competed in go-karts before attending North Carolina State University. During his college education, he worked as a driver and mechanic as part of the university’s Wolfpack Motorsports program.
Following his graduation from NC State University in 2005, Lambert joined Richard Childress Racing. He started as a mechanical engineer before assuming the eventual role as race engineer, where he was a part of RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet team driven by veteran Jeff Burton.
Midway through the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series season, Lambert was named crew chief for Burton and RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet team, where he replaced veteran Todd Berrier. Lambert’s debut as a crew chief occurred at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July, where Burton finished 35th following an engine failure.
Lambert remained as Burton’s crew chief for the final 17 Cup races of the 2011 season. Together, they achieved a best on-track result of second place at Talladega Superspeedway in October, two top-five results, five top-10 results and a 20th-place result in the final standings.
After spending the 2012 season in the Xfinity Series, where he guided veteran Elliott Sadler to four victories and a runner-up result in the final standings, Lambert returned to the Cup Series in 2013 and reunited with Burton as his crew chief. Working with Burton in all but two of the 36-race schedule, the combo achieved a best on-track result of third place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, two top-five results, four top-10 results and another 20th-place result in the final standings.
Lambert remained at RCR and as crew chief for the No. 31 Chevrolet team in 2014, but he was paired with veteran Ryan Newman when Burton scaled back as a part-time competitor. While Lambert and Newman did not record a single victory throughout the 2014 Cup season, they were one of the most consistent teams on the track as they achieved five top-five results and 16 top-10 results throughout the entire season. In addition to making the Playoffs, they made it all the way to the Championship Round, where Newman went on to finish in a career-best second place in the final standings.
Lambert returned for a third full-time season in the Cup Series as crew chief for RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet team with Newman remaining at the team. In late March 2015, Lambert was suspended for six races and fined $125,000 as a result of NASCAR discovering illegal modifications made to the tires on Newman’s car at Auto Club Speedway, which also cost Newman and RCR 75 driver/owner points. Despite the early suspension, Lambert and Newman went on to achieve a pair of season-best third-place results, five top-five results and nine top-10 results. While Newman made the Playoffs, he was eliminated from title contention following the Round of 12 and went on to finish 11th in the final standings. By the time the 2015 season concluded, Lambert also surpassed 100 starts in the Cup Series.
In 2016, Lambert and Newman only achieved a season-best result of third place at Kentucky Speedway in July, two top-five results, 10 top-10 results and an 18th-place result in the final standings after missing the Playoffs.
On March 19, 2017, at Phoenix Raceway, a late caution enabled Lambert to make a decisive pit strategy call to keep Newman out on the track with the race lead on old tires. During an overtime attempt, the strategic call paid off as Newman held off Kyle Larson to win and deliver the first NASCAR Cup career victory for Lambert. In addition, the Phoenix victory snapped a 127-race winless drought for Newman and a 112-race winless drought for Richard Childress Racing.
In total, Lambert and Newman achieved one victory, seven top-five results and 13 top-10 results in 2017. They made the Playoffs for the third time in four seasons, but were eliminated following the Round of 16 and settled in 16th place in the final standings.
Following the 2018 Cup season, where Lambert and Newman achieved nine top-10 results and a final points result of 17th place, Newman departed RCR for Roush Fenway Racing while Lambert was paired with Daniel Hemric, who was assigned to drive RCR’s No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in 2019. By then, Lambert had also surpassed 200 starts in the Cup Series.
Participating in all but one of the 36-race schedule in 2019, Lambert and Hemric achieved a pole, one top-five result, two top-10 results and a 25th-place result in the final standings. In addition, Hemric was able to achieve the 2019 Cup Rookie-of-the-Year title.
For the 2020 season, Lambert departed RCR and joined Roush Fenway Racing to serve as crew chief for Chris Buescher and the No. 17 Ford Mustang team in the Cup Series. In their first race together, Buescher recorded a strong third-place result in the season-opening Daytona 500. They, however, went on to record an additional top-five result and an additional seven top-10 results before concluding the season in 21st place in the final standings.
This season, Lambert and Buescher have achieved results of 31st, 11th and 19th through the first three Cup scheduled races. They are ranked in 15th place in the regular-season standings.
Through 299 previous appearances in the Cup Series, Lambert has achieved one victory, one pole, 26 top-five results and 80 top-10 career results.
Catch Lambert’s milestone start in the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 7, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.