2015 will mark the fourth season that Jason Ratcliff will sit atop the pit box, calling the shots for the No. 20 Dollar General/DEWALT Toyota Camry, and his third year paired with 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Matt Kenseth. The duo had an impressive start to their time working together when Kenseth won a career and season-best seven victories in 2013. Under Ratcliff’s leadership, Kenseth and the No. 20 team qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2013 as well as 2014, and made it through to the Eliminator Round of competition last year.
Prior to working with Kenseth, Ratcliff made his Sprint Cup Series debut as the crew chief for Joey Logano in 2012. In his first season atop the box in NASCAR’s top series, Ratcliff and his team accrued a victory at Pocono Raceway, two top-5’s, 12 top-10’s, and two pole awards.
Ratcliff earned his spot on the No. 20 Sprint Cup Series team after an impressive performance at Joe Gibbs Racing with their XFINITY Series operation. No XFINITY Series team was better from 2009 to 2011 as the No. 18 team was with Ratcliff at the helm. The team won two-consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner’s Championships in 2009 and 2010, narrowly missing out on a third-consecutive title in 2011, finishing just a few points out in second. During that three-year span, JGR’s No. 18 Nationwide Series team won an incredible 30 races, with 68 top-five, and 85 top-10 finishes. In addition, they led an astonishing 6,124 laps. During that time-frame, Ratcliff worked with experienced drivers like Kyle Busch, Logano and Denny Hamlin and helped mold some of the sport’s up-and-coming drivers, such as Michael McDowell, Brad Coleman, Ryan Truex and Kelly Bires.
Ratcliff cut his teeth during his early career working on mini-sprint cars, then later on sprint cars. His professional racing breakthrough came in 1995, when he joined Sadler Racing in Nashville, Tenn., as a mechanic and rear tire changer for drivers Chuck Bown and Gary Bradberry in the XFINITY Series. After two years with Sadler Racing, Ratcliff left the team and spent the 1997-1998 seasons at LAR Motorsports, headquartered in Columbia, Tenn., where he was chief mechanic for Casey Atwood and Jeff Purvis over a two-year span.
Ratcliff’s first year as a NASCAR crew chief came at Brewco Motorsports in 1999, when a young Atwood was an XFINITY Series rookie. Ratcliff and Atwood were together at Brewco for two years before Atwood left for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride at Evernham Motorsports and was replaced at Brewco by Jamie McMurray for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
The 2003 and 2004 seasons at Brewco gave Ratcliff the chance to work with veteran XFINITY Series driver David Green, and the crew chief-driver tandem hit the ground running from the opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2003. They went on to win three races, score 11 top-5’s, 21 top-10’s and two pole awards en route to second place in the season-ending driver championship, a mere 14 points behind title-winner Brian Vickers.
Ratcliff arrived at JGR in 2005 and recorded several solid seasons with J.J. Yeley and the trio of Aric Almirola, Brad Coleman and Kevin Conway.
Then in 2009, the tandem of Ratcliff and Kyle Busch rewrote the history books with one of the most successful seasons in NASCAR’s 62-year history.
The duo won its first NASCAR title of any kind by defeating runner-up Carl Edwards by 210 points in the season-ending championship standings. Their total of 5,682 points scored in 2009 were the most ever by an XFINITY Series champion, as were the 2,698 laps Busch led throughout the season. Busch scored nine wins – four more than any other driver – while he finished second 11 times for a single-season XFINITY Series record. Busch’s 25 top-five finishes were the most since Jeff Green scored 25 top-5’s in a 32-race season in 2000.
Away from the track, Ratcliff resides in Huntersville, N.C., with his wife Christi and children Cade and Dakota. In his free time, he enjoys working on cars, golfing and boating.