One of these guys should be Patrick's new crew chief

Danica Patrick-Gibson-102914-Getty-ftr.jpg

Danica Patrick will have a new crew chief starting this week. But Daniel Knost has the “interim” title, not a permanent one.

So who should be Patrick’s crew chief in 2015? It needs to be an engineer who has patience, knowledge and the ability to lead. It also needs to be someone used to the spotlight or at least comfortable in it.

Here’s a look at current crew chiefs who would be good fits to work with Patrick’s team next year. These are people that would be good for Stewart-Haas Racing to talk to, even if they would have to break a contract to join the organization.

1. Kenny Francis

If Hendrick Motorsports wants to make a change with Kasey Kahne for next season, Francis would be a solid fit with Patrick. He might be a little quiet for her and she might be a little too vocal for him after working with Kahne for so long. But Francis knows what he’s doing and has had the experience of working through adversity. He also would have a strong relationship with the Hendrick crew chiefs that could help the Hendrick-SHR relationship.

2. Matt Puccia

Puccia has done solid work at Roush Fenway Racing and his calm demeanor would work well with Patrick. It also might not be bad for Greg Biffle to get a new start with someone else as well as he enters his new three-year deal.

3. Chris Heroy

Heroy would be crazy not to stick with Kyle Larson for as long as he can. But after working with Juan Pablo Montoya and Larson, Heroy has learned how to handle different personalities and different experience levels. He also is used to drivers who have come from open-wheel backgrounds.

4. Luke Lambert

He’s still in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Ryan Newman and it’s hard to see Richard Childress Racing allowing him to go, but a lot of people think Lambert will be a crew chief in the business for a long, long time. He’d have no reason to join Patrick except for the challenge.

5. Daniel Knost

Knost had an OK season in his first year as a crew chief. As SHR general manager Greg Zipadelli admitted, he was thrown to the wolves. Kurt Busch had to mentor him, and that had to be a little intimidating, considering Busch isn’t known to have the most patience. SHR must have seen something in Knost to make him a crew chief in the first place. He could use another chance.

6. Keith Rodden

Rodden’s work with Jamie McMurray this year as a rookie crew chief has shown he knows what he’s doing. And, just like Francis and Heroy, he has experience at Hendrick that would allow for a strong back-and-forth as part of the HMS-SHR alliance.

7. Jeremy Bullins

He's the engineering-based crew chief of Team Penske’s successful No. 22 Nationwide Series team. Unless Penske makes him (and not Greg Erwin) the Cup crew chief for Ryan Blaney and a potential third Cup team in 2016, Bullins deserves an opportunity on the Cup level as soon as possible.

8. Brian Burns

Considering what Burns has done at JTG Daugherty Racing with AJ Allmendinger, going to a bigger team would be deserved. He led Allmendinger to a win at Watkins Glen that got them into the Chase. The one question would be how he would work at a big team and under a larger spotlight.

9. Billy Scott

Scott hasn’t had that great a season as crew chief for Brian Vickers. But he has a strong rapport with current SHR crew chiefs Rodney Childers and Chad Johnston from their time at Michael Waltrip Racing.

10. Scott Graves

Graves has had a solid season as crew chief for Chris Buescher in the Nationwide Series. What would make this interesting is that Graves was the Cup crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. last year. Now imagine the reaction if he does better with Patrick than Stenhouse, her boyfriend. Just for the storyline alone, he’s on this list. But he’s good, too.

11. Darian Grubb

OK, this one is a big long shot. He’ll probably remain at Joe Gibbs Racing as a crew chief for Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch. And could you really imagine Grubb returning to SHR after he was fired by Stewart after winning the 2011 championship? Stranger things have happened, even if we don’t think this one will.