Ryan Pemberton, a veteran of the NASCAR garage, died on Sunday. He was 54.
Pemberton most recently worked with JR Motorsports as the competition director for the NASCAR Xfinity Series program. In the decade Pemberton spent with the company, it won the driver’s championship three times – first with Chase Elliott (2014) and later with Tyler Reddick (2018 and 2019).
Much of what Pemberton will be remembered for was his time spent atop the pit box as a crew chief. Pemberton oversaw the No. 7 team at JR Motorsports in 2014 and guided Regan Smith to a victory.
“Ryan was instrumental to JR Motorsports’ success during the decade he spent with us,” Kelley Earnhardt Miller said in a statement. “He had such a passion for competition and, as a leader, knew how to motivate everyone he worked with. He will always be part of the JRM family. Our hearts go out to his wife Andrea and daughters Payton and Britton during this tremendously difficult time.”
Pemberton earned three victories as a Xfinity Series crew chief in 76 starts, doing so with Larry Pearson and Smith. At the Cup Series level (561 starts), Pemberton won a race with Joe Nemechek in 2004 and Brian Vickers in 2009.
Among the drivers Pemberton worked with throughout his career were Derrike Cope, Ernie Irvan, Jerry Nadeau, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek and Mark Martin. It was Pemberton and Martin who were on the losing end of a photo finish with Kevin Harvick in the 2007 Daytona 500.
Pemberton hailed from a racing family that includes older brother Robin being the former vice president of competition for NASCAR. Ryan Pemberton got his start in NASCAR 1988 with Jack Roush.
The Pemberton family has suffered multiple losses in recent years. Randy Pemberton, Ryan and Robin’s brother, died in 2022. He was a television broadcaster in the sport. Bray Pemberton, Ryan’s nephew and the son of Robin, died in 2021.