A significant milestone start is in the making for Chris Gayle, crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Toyota Supra team piloted by multiple competitors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. By participating in this weekend’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gayle will call his 150th Xfinity career race as a crew chief.
A native from Little Rock, Arkansas, Gayle spent two years as a student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville before transferring to the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 2002. Not long after, he joined Joe Gibbs Racing to work as a race engineer.
Eleven years later, Gayle, who was a senior engineer for Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Cup Series, was promoted to the crew chief role, where he was paired with veteran Elliott Sadler and JGR’s No. 11 Toyota Camry team for the 2013 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Throughout the 33-race Xfinity schedule, Gayle and Sadler earned nine top-five results and 20 top-10 results before finishing in fourth place in the final standings.
Eight races into the 2014 Xfinity season, Gayle earned his first NASCAR career victory as a crew chief at Talladega Superspeedway in April, where Sadler held off the field in a three-lap shootout to return to Victory Lane following a one-year winless season. They went on to earn a pole, seven top-five results and 25 top-10 results before settling in third place in the final standings.
Prior to the 2015 season, Sadler departed JGR and the team shuffled its crew chief lineup, placing Gayle as crew chief for the team’s No. 54 Toyota Camry piloted by multiple competitors, starting with Kyle Busch for the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway in February. The season, however, started off on a harrowing note when Busch was involved in a late multi-car accident that saw his car make head-on contact into a concrete wall installed with no SAFER barriers and the driver being transported to a local hospital, where he suffered a massive compound fracture to his right leg and a fractured left foot.
With Busch absent and recovering from his injuries, Gayle spent the following 11 Xfinity events working with Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Boris Said. When Busch returned at Michigan International Speedway in June, he and Gayle went to Victory Lane after Busch completed a late pass on Chase Elliott en route to his first win of the season and in his first Xfinity start since the Daytona accident. A week later, Gayle went to Victory Lane with Erik Jones at Chicagoland Speedway.
In total, Gayle achieved seven Xfinity victories in 2015, six with Kyle Busch and one with Erik Jones. In addition, he notched five poles, 17 top-five results and 23 top-10 results throughout the 33-race schedule for JGR’s No. 54 Toyota team, which settled in the runner-up position behind Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang team in the final Xfinity owners’ standings.
Gayle remained as JGR’s Xfinity “all-star” crew chief in 2016, where he worked with Dakoda Armstrong, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Drew Herring, Sam Hornish Jr., Owen Kelly, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan and Matt Tifft, all of whom took turns piloting the No. 18 Toyota Camry throughout the season. Throughout the 33-race schedule, Gayle earned 11 victories (10 with Kyle Busch and one with Hornish), 11 poles (nine with Kyle Busch, one with Ragan and one with Tifft), 19 top-five results and 23 top-10 results. When the final checkered flag of the season flew, JGR’s No. 18 Toyota team ended up in fourth place in the owners’ standings.
Following the 2016 Xfinity season, Gayle moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series, where he worked as a crew chief for Erik Jones and the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry team. After a four-year run in the Cup Series, where Gayle earned two career victories between 2018 and 2019 with Erik Jones, Gayle returned to the Xfinity Series for the 2021 season, where he was assigned to JGR’s No. 54 Toyota Supra team piloted by multiple competitors, starting with Ty Dillon for the season-opening event at Daytona in February.
Following a 14th-place result with Dillon at Daytona, Gayle returned to Victory Lane the following weekend at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course with Ty Gibbs, grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, winning his first Xfinity race in his series’ debut. Since then, Gayle has achieved four additional victories this season, three with Kyle Busch and another with Ty Gibbs. Currently, with seventeen races of the 2021 season complete, JGR’s No. 54 team led by Gayle is ranked in second place in the owners’ standings.
Through 149 previous Xfinity appearances, Gayle has achieved 25 victories, 20 poles, 63 top-five results and 102 top-10 results while working with 15 different competitors.
Gayle is primed to call his 150th Xfinity race as a crew chief at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 10, with Kyle Busch scheduled to drive the No. 54 JGR Toyota Supra and with the race scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.