Joe Graf Jr. joins Richard Childress Racing’s 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series program, piloting the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro for select races this season. Veteran Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race-winning crew chief Justin Alexander will call the shots from the top of the pit box.
Graf Jr. joins RCR with a unique, combined role of driver and intern. The college junior is currently studying business marketing at New York University and is balancing his driving duties with a fulltime internship in RCR’s marketing department, learning the business side of motorsports.
A native of Mahwah, New Jersey, Graf Jr. first began racing at age nine in bandolero cars, winning over 40 races throughout the country.
Graf Jr. later moved on to the INEX Legends Car Series, winning over 50 races and several track championships. He also secured key wins at the Battle of the Big Top at Texas Motor Speedway, and Legendstock at Bethel Motor Speedway.
After Legend cars, Graf Jr. turned to the NASCAR Modified Series and earned Rookie of the Year honors at Stafford Motor Speedway.
He made his stock car debut in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018. The ARCA Racing Series championship contender secured one win, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes, including the closest finish in ARCA history when he placed second at Talladega Superspeedway in a statistical tie.
Graf Jr. is currently competing full-time in the ARCA Menards Series for 2019 and will balance his current race schedule with school, his RCR internship and NASCAR Xfinity Series races in the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Justin Alexander returns to RCR as the crew chief for the part-time No. 21 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and No. 31 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
After serving as crew chief for the No. 2 NASCAR Xfinity Series team for the first eight races of the 2017 season, Alexander began working in the MENCS with Dillon in May. In their first start together, Alexander made a fuel mileage call that put Dillon, RCR and the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet back in Victory Lane. The victory was a career-first for both Alexander and Dillon. Working together for a total of 25 races, Alexander led Dillon and the No. 3 team to one win, two top-five and three-top 10 finishes, that culminated with a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs.
The pair opened up 2018 with a statement victory, winning the 60th running of the Daytona 500. Alexander went on to lead Dillon and the No. 3 team to two top-five and eight top-10 finishes, earning their second-consecutive playoff spot together.
Before making the jump to the MENCS, Alexander led the No. 2 NXS team to five top-five and six top-10 finishes working with Dillon and Ben Kennedy.
After serving as the crew chief of the No. 27 MENCS team at RCR in 2016, Alexander assumed the role of crew chief of the No. 2 Chevrolet in July of that year and called the shots for the final 14 races of the season, working with a variety of drivers including Dillon, Paul Menard, Kennedy, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael McDowell. Alexander made his first trip to Victory Lane, just one week after assuming his role as crew chief of the No. 2 team at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2016 and again the following week at Road America. In total, Alexander captured seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
Alexander, 36, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina State University where he struck up a friendship with Luke Lambert, crew chief for Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Chevrolet team. The two met while participating in the Formula SAE program and became roommates during and after college.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native started his NASCAR career at Hendrick Motorsports as a shock specialist for the No. 24 and No. 48 teams in 2003. Two years later, he became the lead engineer on the No. 48 team and moved to an R&D engineer in 2006. In 2009, he was named lead engineer for the No. 24 team. During his tenure, Alexander was part of five MENCS championships.
Following his aspirations of becoming a crew chief, Alexander joined RCR and the No. 27 team in January 2014 as lead engineer. Throughout 36 races of the 2014 season, Alexander contributed to the team’s career-best of five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
The 2015 premiere series season marked Alexander’s first as a full-time crew chief in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Alexander led the No. 27 team to its first bid in the Chase for the championship, ultimately finishing 14th in the championship driver point standings. With Alexander’s guidance on the pit box, Menard collected two top-five, five top-10 and 20 top-15 finishes. Alexander received four of the prestigious MOOG Problem Solver of the Race awards throughout the season. This award is presented to the crew chief that makes the biggest gain in lap average speed in the second half of each race.