JGR to replace Denny Hamlin's crew chief

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Joe Gibbs Racing is making a crew chief change for Denny Hamlin.

Crew chief Mike Ford told The Associated Press the team informed him Tuesday he won't be back with Hamlin next season. The move was presumably made so JGR can pursue championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb.

Grubb was let go at the end of the season despite leading Tony Stewart to the Sprint Cup championship.

Ford had been with Hamlin since Hamlin's 2006 rookie season. He guided Hamlin to 17 victories and a spot in the Chase for the championship in all six seasons.

Hamlin nearly dethroned Jimmie Johnson in the 2010 title race, but fell short in the season finale.

The No. 11 team dropped considerably this season, with Hamlin winning one race and finishing ninth in points.