A significant milestone start is in the making for Trent Owens, crew chief for Justin Haley and the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team in the NASCAR Cup Series. By participating in this weekend’s Cup event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Owens will call his 300th career race as a crew chief in NASCAR’s premier series.
A native of Davidson, North Carolina, and the nephew of seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Richard Petty who made select starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Owens made his debut as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief at Texas Motor Speedway in April for Reed Sorenson and the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota Camry team that campaigned in select Cup events. By then, Owens was also in his fifth season as an Xfinity Series crew chief for Braun Racing. Throughout the 2010 season, the No. 32 entry qualified for six events and notched a season-best 29th-place result at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July with Quebec’s Jacques Villenueve.
Two years later, Owens made his lone appearance as a Cup Series crew chief at Daytona International Speedway in July for the 1988 NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who piloted the No. 50 Chevrolet Impala for Turner Motorsports to a 37th-place result after being involved in a late multi-car wreck.
In 2014, Owens became a full-time Cup Series crew chief for the first time as he was paired with Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion team. The duo commenced the season with a wreck and a 39th-place result in the 56th running of the Daytona 500, but rallied three races later by posting a third-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway in March. Another 14 races later, Owens and Almirola achieved their first career victory in the Cup Series in the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July. The victory occurred on the 30th anniversary where Richard Petty notched his record-breaking 200th victory in NASCAR’s premier series and it marked the first win for Petty’s iconic No. 43 since April 1999. With the victory and a guaranteed spot in the 2014 Cup Playoffs, Owens and Almirola were one of four teams eliminated following the Round of 16 despite finishing as high as sixth during the round. They went on to conclude the season in 16th place in the final standings.
The following season, Owens, Almirola and the No. 43 RPM Ford team managed to record three top-five results, one extra than 2014, and six top-10 results, one less than 2014. Despite finishing in fourth place at Richmond Raceway in September, they missed the 2015 Cup Playoffs by 17 points and they went on to finish in 17th place in the final standings.
Remaining as Almirola’s crew chief for the 2016 Cup season, Owens led the No. 43 team to six top-15 results and a season-best 12th-place result in the 58th running of the Daytona 500. Despite surpassing 100 Cup appearances as a crew chief, he was replaced by veteran Drew Blickensderfer for seven of the remaining eight scheduled events.
The 2017 Cup season marked a new beginning for Owens, who joined JTG-Daugherty Racing as a crew chief for Chris Buescher and the No. 37 Chevrolet SS team. The team’s best results were a pair of sixth-place results at Michigan International Speedway in August and at Kansas Speedway in October. To go along with an additional two top-10 results, Owens guided Buescher to a 25th-place result in the final standings.
In 2018, Owens and Buescher commenced the season on a strong note by finishing in fifth place in the 60th running of the Daytona 500. The remaining 25 regular season events, however, were a struggle for the duo as they managed an additional fifth-place result at Daytona in July and were unable to make the 2018 Cup Playoffs. Following the first Playoff event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September, JTG-Daugherty Racing swapped the crew chiefs of the team’s two-car lineup that resulted with Owens paired with AJ Allmendinger and the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team while Tristan Smith joined forces with Buescher. During the final nine scheduled events, Owens and Allmendinger achieved two top-10 results as the No. 47 team finished in 22nd place in the final standings, two spots ahead of Buescher.
In 2019, Owens, who remained at JTG-Daugherty Racing for a third consecutive season, reunited with Buescher as he returned atop the pit box of the No. 37 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team. Like the previous two seasons, however, the duo struggled with consistency as they only achieved four top-10 results, including a sixth-place result in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, before settling in 25th place in the final standings. By then, Owens surpassed 200 appearances as a Cup crew chief.
The following season, Owens, who remained at JTG-Daugherty Racing for a fourth consecutive season, was paired with Ryan Preece, who took over the No. 37 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to make room for the team’s newest competitor, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in the No. 47 Chevrolet. Appearing in all but one of the 36-race schedule, Owens and Preece recorded two top-10 results and a season-best result of ninth place at Bristol Motor Speedway Night Race in September before falling back to 29th place in the final standings.
Owens, Preece and the No. 37 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet team entered the 2021 Cup season without a charter that would guarantee them a spot in every event of the new season. Despite this, they qualified for the 63rd running of the Daytona 500, where Preece finished sixth despite being involved in a multi-car wreck on the final lap. Preece then backed it up by finishing ninth at the Daytona Road Course. Overall, Owens and Preece recorded two additional top-10 results and a season-best fourth-place result at Daytona in August. Despite earning a starting spot for every scheduled event, they ended up in 27th place in the final standings.
A month prior to the 2022 Cup Series season, Owens was named crew chief for Kaulig Racing’s No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team that was set to campaign on a full-time basis with Justin Haley serving as the driver. Owens’ first campaign with Haley and Kaulig Racing started off on a rough note when Haley, who was running towards the front, was eliminated in a late accident during the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in February. Two weeks later, Owens was suspended for four races after Haley’s No. 31 Chevrolet lost a right-front tire during the early stages of the 64th running of the Daytona 500. Despite Kaulig’s attempts to appeal the suspension, which kept Owens atop the No. 31 pit box for the following three events in the West Coast, the suspension was ultimately upheld in late March as Owens was absent from Atlanta Motor Speedway in March through Martinsville Speedway in April.
A month later and following a stellar third-place run with Haley at Darlington Raceway, Owens was issued another four-race suspension after the No. 31 Chevrolet lost a left-rear tire upon exiting his pit stall during an early caution period at Kansas Speedway. Since returning atop the No. 31 pit box at Nashville Superspeedway in late June, Owens and Haley are coming off a strong seventh-place run at Atlanta. With two top-10 results during the first 19 scheduled events, the duo are ranked in 22nd place in the drivers’ standings as they trail the top-16 cutline to make the 2022 Cup Series Playoffs by 149 points.
Through 299 previous Cup appearances, Owens has achieved one victory, nine top-five results and 33 top-10 results while working with 10 different competitors.
Owens is scheduled to call his 300th Cup Series career event as a crew chief at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 17, with the event’s coverage to commence as 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.