Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed Wednesday that Mike Ford won't be back as Denny Hamlin's crew chief in 2012.
"Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our No. 11 team," said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement. "We've decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities."
In their six years together at Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin won 17 races and earned a berth in the Chase for the Cup each year. The 2010 season saw Hamlin lead the point standings going into the final round of the year at Homestead before a fraught afternoon that saw Jimmie Johnson overtake him for his fifth title.
"I'm kind of relieved," Ford told The Associated Press, which was first to report the story. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution."
In an off-season that has seen myriad crew chief changes, Ford's transition would be the latest in a line of high-profile musical chairs. With Tony Stewart's former crew chief Darian Grubb still on the market, it is believed that JGR is likely to make a push at signing him.