CONCORD, N.C. – A new challenge awaits Darian Grubb following the conclusion of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Currently serving as the crew chief of the No. 24 team with William Byron, Grubb will assume the role of technical director following the end of the season. In the new role, Grubb will support Hendrick Motorsports’ engineering and vehicle development programs.
“Working within the teams and actually taking on the crew chief role, we have seen where we thought we had been deficient in some of the aero development and some of the chassis development,” Grubb said. “We have been kind of playing from behind the trees from where we thought we needed to be. We just didn’t have the performance and weren’t exactly sure what to put our finger on to increase performance the way we needed. Now, we think we have narrowed down a few of those areas where we can direct our focus and where we can make some gains on in the next few years.”
A lot of unknowns exist with the change, but Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition Jeff Andrews thinks Grubb’s promotion will provide a positive spark to the organization.
“There’s a bit of excitement with that,” Andrews said. “We want to win. We’re a competitive company that has pretty high standards for itself and it’s no secret that the last couple years we’ve been making great strides to make improvements. I think this is just another step in that direction and another great opportunity for a lot of people.”
Grubb spent six seasons with Hendrick Motorsports before becoming Tony Stewarts’ crew chief in 2009. After seven seasons away from the organization, he returned in 2016, serving as the vehicle production director before being named Byron’s crew chief for the 2018 season.
And through the years, he’s been forever grateful for all the opportunities Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has provided him.
“Ever since I came here in 2003 working through 2008, Mr. Hendrick has been a great leader for me and anything he has asked me to do I have been able to go forward and actually improve myself and my career on that,” Grubb said. “He is actually the one that asked me to go take over the Tony Stewart role at Stewart-Haas. I was scared. I didn’t want to leave this organization. He gave me the pat on the back and told me everything was going to be good and as soon as I wanted to come back to the organization I had an open door waiting on me.”
As he prepares for another role with the organization, Grubb knows he still has that same support from Hendrick among several other teammates.
“I know I have his personal support and then working with Jeff Andrews and the guys here on the technical side of things in the last few years, it is just expanding the role and those same friendships,” Grubb said. “We were friends when I was here early, gone for seven years and came back, and it just still feels like home. It’s a big move for me.”
As Chad Knaus takes over as Byron’s crew chief in 2019, Grubb is confident the veteran crew chief will help the 20-year-old driver continue to learn and make improvements in the Cup Series.
“I think it’s going to be really good,” Grubb said. “One of the reasons they wanted me to come in last year to do that was having that senior crew chief experience to help a young rookie come along and Chad is much more senior than I am. I started under him as well in 2003. So, having that experience is going to be another huge wealth of knowledge for William to be able to rely on and get his feet under him as he keeps growing through the sport.”
Pairing Knaus’ in-depth knowledge of the sport with Byron’s unwavering efforts to grow and develop as a young driver is a combination that will make the transition work smoothly according to Grubb.
“William is a sponge,” Grubb said. “He takes all the information he can get. Chad is a very detail-oriented guy. I think that information is going to keep flowing even more.”
Grubb knows he has his Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates support as he transitions into his new role, and Andrews has unshakable confidence in Grubb’s ability to thrive in his new position.
“It’s a great opportunity for Darian to be promoted into this technical director position,” Andrews said. “Looking at our company towards the offseason, after a year of change that we had last year, there’s a couple of key areas that we really needed to have someone with a high technical level and have their hands on that. And that’s Darian. Change brings excitement for us.”