CONCORD, N.C. – The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Richmond Raceway for the second playoff race of the season and No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives is optimistic on his team’s chances to repeat their luck from the first race in April where they took their first win of 2021.
Ives and No. 48 driver Alex Bowman have collected three wins, six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s en route to securing their spot in the Cup Series playoffs. Bowman will start 13th at Richmond with the rest of the playoff drivers as he tries to solidify his spot in the second round of the postseason.
“It definitely gives you a confidence boost going back to a track you have won at, but you also know people are on the lookout for you,” Ives said. “(Other drivers won’t) cut you as many breaks as they would if they knew you were just mid-pack. I feel like you got to continuously improve. There’s parts of that race we needed to do better; it wasn’t a clean, flawless race. Looking at that tire bouncing (that got away), not having a consistent pit stop, having restarts like he did on that last one. There’s a lot of things we can clean up throughout the whole race to make it an even better race for us before we go back.”
Coming off the first playoff race at Darlington Raceway, Ives acknowledged the importance of gathering as many points as the team can as they approach the final race of the first round. Bowman and the No. 48 team are currently tied with Tyler Reddick with 2026 points and sit right on the cutline in 13th after a rocky 26th-place finish to Darlington, which saw Bowman encounter multiple issues.
“I think we’re going to have a great day going up to Richmond,” Ives said. “We got all of our competitors out there, we can’t make one of them ourselves. We did that in Darlington, like I said, and we just got to move on to Richmond, be flawless, mentally prepare ourselves, but it’s not going to be an easy race. We’ve been on the cutline before and have been able to succeed.”
Ives recognizes the battles that Richmond has given Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series and wants to create a new hot streak at the .75-mile track. The organization has tallied 11 wins, 61 top-five finishes and 114 top-10s in 74 races at Richmond, though the organization’s last win before Bowman’s April victory at the Virginia venue was with Jimmie Johnson in 2008.
“Richmond has always been a tough track for Hendrick Motorsports, historically, and to be able to get that win was a big deal,” Ives said. “A repeat and a sweep of the track for the year would be pretty neat – it would be pretty cool. Not a lot of drivers have done that.”
Be sure to tune in this Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN to see Bowman, Ives, and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports teams take on Richmond in the second race of the 2021 Cup Series playoffs.