Ford, 42, has worked as a crew chief in the sport since 2000 - six and a half years of them with Hamlin - and he has claimed a share of 21 victories. It's unclear whether he has any prospects for a new job in NASCAR, talking instead of "maybe venturing into something else and starting over" and simply commenting: “I wish they would have given me a head's up instead of [leaving it] this late."
Among the posts still to be filled are a new crew chief for the #22 once a replacement for former driver Kurt Busch is signed up, and also a crew chief for Danica Patrick's #10 car at Stewart-Haas Racing for her limited run of ten Sprint Cup appearances.
Pattie joins MWR as Bowyer's crew chief
Another crew chief position was also confirmed this week, when Brian Pattie was announced as Clint Bowyer's crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Bowyer is moving to MWR after eight years with Richard Childress Racing, and the team have signed up the experienced Pattie to make his new venture a successful one from the get-go.
“I'm really happy to get him,” said Bowyer. “He's somebody I got a lot of confidence in. He's a young, aggressive crew chief. His work ethic is very good, and I think that's why he gets the results that he does."
Pattie was most recently crew chief on the #42 car at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing working with driver Juan Montoya, but he was moved aside by EGR in the summer after a lacklustre season for the Colombian. Jim Pohlman took over on an interim basis but there was little upturn in Montoya's showing, and the #42 has now found a new crew chief for 2012 in the form of Chris Heroy, former team engineer at Hendrick Motorsports.
Pattie's existing contract with EGR finally expired at the end of November allowing him to take up the new offer from MWR. Pattie insisted that there were no bad feelings with his old team and he admitted that: "It was a time for a change over there to try to stimulate some performance ... My contract was up this year anyways, so it was better to start building a team midyear."
As for his own new challenge, Pattie said that the decision to move to MWR "was basically a no-brainer for me ... There's been a lot of phone calls and I talked to Clint, and I felt this was the best opportunity for myself to showcase my talents and help build a team and help them move forward the best that I can."
Blickensderfer moves to RCR at crew chief for Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton will have his #31 team led by Drew Blickensderfer in 2012, after Richard Childress Racing announced at the end of November that they had succeeded in tempting Blickensderfer from Roush Fenway Racing where he had been crew chief for David Ragan on the #6.
With that car team looking set to be wound up - and Ragan in the frame to move to Penske Racing and take over the #22 vacated by Kurt Busch - Blickensderfer has opted to take up the chance to work with Burton next season.