CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team couldn’t have asked for a smoother adjustment.
When Greg Ives was announced as the crew chief for the No. 88 team in 2015, the driver knew right away it was the right decision.
“Not only is he the most talented candidate, I believe, for the job, but it’ll be the most seamless transition,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t see how it could go any smoother being that he has that past history and understanding of the building. So everybody’s really excited about it – not just me. I think everybody at Hendrick is excited to have Greg come back.”
Ives spent the last two years as a crew chief with JR Motorsports, guiding Regan Smith to a third-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings in 2013 and helping Chase Elliott to three wins and the current Nationwide Series points lead this season.
But as Earnhardt alluded, Ives is a familiar face at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters, having spent his first nine years in NASCAR with the organization. As race engineer for the No. 48 team, he was part of JimmieJohnson's five consecutive Sprint Cup championships from 2006-10.
Now, he’ll be reunited with No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus, as the No. 88 team shares the same shop.
“The best part about it is that he knows the culture of the 48/88 shop,” Earnhardt explained. “He knows what that shop’s about and how the work goes on in that shop, the mentality there. He has a great rapport with not only Chad but a lot of the employees that are working there. He’s worked with all those guys in the past.”
Ives said Hendrick Motorsports – and particularly the 48/88 shop – “feels like it’s my home.”
And a big reason for that is what Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick has instilled throughout the team.
“The loyalty and the trust that Mr. Hendrick has put into his organization and his people – when he talks about it’s all about the people, it definitely shows,” Ives said. “It makes me feel good just to be part of it.”
Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt said that watching Ives’ maturation as a crew chief in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports made it clear that he was “the right person for the job.”
“With Dale, it’s got to be someone he knows and he feels comfortable around,” Hendrick said. “Here’s a guy that works for Dale that’s won him a bunch of races. So I think it was a match made in heaven.”
Ives’ career began as a mechanic with Hendrick Motorsports in 2004. Now, he’s back and ready to prove himself as a crew chief at NASCAR’s highest level.
“It’s a great feeling to know that hard work does pay off in the end,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight.”