Jonathan Hassler will always be known as the crew chief who guided Ryan Blaney to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.
It was eight years in the making for Blaney. For Hassler, it was his second as a crew chief in NASCAR’s top series. But his presence in the sport and within the Team Penske organization dates back to 2008 when he joined as a race engineer.
“I’ve been at Team Penske a long time, and Ryan and I had a little bit of a relationship on the side while I was working with some of the other teams,” Hassler said. “He became a friend of mine with some shared interests. When Todd retired, and we had some other people moving around, it was certainly the best opportunity available. He’s got tons of speed and tons of talent, and I wanted to get on board.”
Hassler is Blaney’s third crew chief in eight seasons, following Jeremy Bullins (2016-2019) and Gordon (2020-2021). Hassler and Blaney were paired together before the 2022 season, and although they won the All-Star Race in the summer, they went winless in points-paying events. And in the postseason, it was another disappointing Round of 8 exit for Blaney.
But there was a solid foundati on built for the success that came in 2023. Over the winter, Hassler and Blaney went over notes as well as the list his driver prepared about how to achieve their goals, areas of struggle, and areas where they did things well.
A championship was icing on the cake. For just the second time in his career, Blaney won multiple races in a season with his three victories. He advanced out of the Round of 8 for the first time, setting him up for his championship run in the finale.
“We kind of spent last year (2022) learning each other, and we figured out that we could go really fast,” Hassler said. “We had a lot of speed through a lot of different races. I thought we could have won six or seven races l ast year if we executed, but we didn’t. So, we really went to work in the off-season of finishing the two-thirds point of the race both on my and on his end.
“I probably needed to make some better adjustments as the races went on and he needed to stay a little bit more composed as things didn’t work out the way that he expected them to or they weren’t perfect. We definitely addressed that in the off-season, and obviously, I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Hassler is now one of six active full-time crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series with a championship.
“Jonathan, I congratulate you and what you’ve been able to do with Ryan as an individual and a friend,” Roger Penske said. “And obviously, as our leader in the cockpit of the car.”