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CONCORD, N.C. -- Greg Ives knows there are times he needs to shake things up to keep his team fresh and performing at the top level. The crew chief of the No. 48 Ally crew took an unconventional approach to blowing off some steam with his team recently as the NASCAR Cup Series gets ready for the playoffs.

The grind can wear down on the pit and road crews who travel every week. especially as the pressure mounts at the end of the season. Ives decided working as a team in other aspects would be good for the No. 48 crew as they started to prepare for the postseason.

“A couple weeks ago, the pit crew had a bad week – it wasn’t a bad week, but you could tell they weren’t really happy about their outcome from the times they were posting,” Ives explained. “So, I went down there with a 15-passenger van and as they started to get ready for pit practice and told them all to get in.

“They got in and they kind of didn’t know what was going on. We went to my house and I have some property in the back. I made a shotgun range where we had to shoot at five different targets and transfer a move from hand-eye coordination and feet movement, and we had a lot of fun doing that.”

Ives’ outing also was to reassure his team that he trusts and appreciates them. The group responsible for servicing Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE during Cup Series races feels the pressure to aid in flawless pit stops, which can be stressful during a nine-month season.

“Everybody kind of looks at how the pit crew performs setting the fastest stop, but usually if a car is not 100% right and we have to make adjustments, that’s when the pit crew really needs to be fast,” Ives said. “I feel like that’s where our team and our pit crew really contribute to our success; they’re able to make adjustments to the car, get the car just a little bit better, and do it without losing very much time at all.

“Sometimes at the end of a race weekend, you can look at who had the best time," he added. "Who helped improve the most? I think our pit crew does a great job at that. As far as getting in a rhythm with each other, you kind of have that friendship outside the racetrack that kind of keeps you grounded in your relationships. Honestly, that contributes a lot to how you fight and work through situations."

The No. 48 team will likely have to work through intense moments starting this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Bowman has had success at “The Lady in Black” in the last couple of years, finishing second at the track in May 2020 and sixth in September 2020. While Bowman had a strong run throughout the playoffs last season, Ives wants to make sure the team is prepared for the pressure the 10-week playoffs will bring.

“I’m just trying to switch up the routine a little bit,” Ives said. “This is a long season, a long grind, especially for them in a competitive environment, so I just wanted to have some fun and relieve some stress.”

The Cup Series playoffs officially will begin Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN at Darlington Raceway.