Bob Pockrass reported who Chase Briscoe’s interim crew chief would be for the next six races, and it’s a familiar name. Mike Bugarewicz will replace Johnny Klausmeier for the next six races at the helm. Bugarewicz is a familiar name to many NASCAR fans, but where is that name familiar from?
Early Life and Early Days in NASCAR
Mike Bugarewicz is a native of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, only about 20 miles from Pocono Raceway and around 30 miles from the hometown of the famous Andretti family in Nazareth. According to his LinkedIn page, Bugarewicz stayed close to home to attend school as he received both a Bachelors Degree in 2004 and a Masters Degree in 2005 in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University. From there, it was quickly into NASCAR.
Bugarewicz worked at Roush-Fenway Racing as a race engineer from 2005 until 2013. During this time, Roush had four drivers finish second in the points standings with Greg Biffle in 2005, Matt Kenseth in 2006, and Carl Edwards in 2008 and 2011. Bugarewicz moved to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season to be the race engineer for Kevin Harvick.
While Bugarewicz was Harvick’s race engineer in 2014 and 2015, Harvick enjoyed two of the best seasons of his career. Harvick won eight races, nine poles, 37 top-5s, 48 top-10s, and the 2014 Cup Series Championship. From there, Bugareweicz was promoted.
Crew Chief Days
Bugarewicz was named the crew chief for Tony Stewart’s swan song season in 2016. However, Bugarewicz was thrown a curveball when a back injury knocked Stewart out of the first eight races of the season. Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon raced the first eight races in the 14 car with Vickers getting the best finish of seventh at Martinsville.
Stewart eventually returned, and Bugarewicz was the man on the pit box for Stewart’s last win at Sonoma in 2016. Not only was it Stewart’s last career win, but it was also Bugarewicz’s first career win as a crew chief.
After Stewart retired, Clint Bowyer took over the 14 car in 2017. After a forgettable first season, Bugarewicz and Bowyer found their footing in 2018 and 2019. Bowyer won two races in 2018 and his first pole in 12 years in 2019. Bowyer also finished ninth in the standings in 2019, his best finish since 2013.
In 2020, Bugarewicz switched teams as he moved to crew chief for Aric Almirola. The duo qualified for the playoffs in both of their years together in 2020 and 2021, with Bugarewicz getting his fourth career win as a crew chief at New Hampshire. From there, Bugarewicz was promoted again.
Post Crew Chief Days
Before the 2022 season, Bugarewicz was promoted to an executive role. He has spent the last two seasons as the Performance Director.
Despite a tough year this year, Kevin Harvick still sits in fourth in the points standings. In 2022, Stewart-Haas Racing won three races with Harvick winning two and Briscoe winning his first career race at Phoenix. Briscoe also narrowly missed out on the Championship 4 after being passed in the closing laps at Martinsville.
Now it all comes full circle as they say. Bugarewicz returns to the top of the pit box to be the crew chief for the team he had his first opportunity as a crew chief.