CONCORD, N.C. – Entering last season, Hendrick Motorsports was in the midst of change.
From two new drivers to a new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and a reorganization of the race shops, there were plenty of adjustments as the 2018 season progressed.
Entering 2019, things seem a bit more settled. But No. 88 team Greg Ives said the organization isn’t taking its foot off the gas.
“As soon as you think you’re ahead of the game, that’s when you get complacent,” Ives said. “When you think that, ‘Hey, it’s going to be easy,’ that’s when you get bit the most.”
There are still changes ahead in 2019, including a new rules package in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Ives believes adjusting to those requirements will be one of the most important goals for the early stages of the season.
“Like anything new, you’re going to see a contrast,” the crew chief explained. “You’re going to see some people attack it differently. You’re going to see cars with different ride heights, different skew attitudes, and you’re going to be wondering why they’re doing that.
“You’re going to see everybody try different things.”
Ives said that it might take three or four months before teams truly have a handle on how they will approach each week of the season – and that approach might even change from track to track.
Through it all, he believes speed will still be a vital factor.
”The fundamentals of how you race is never going to change with any type rules package,” he explained. “You want the least amount of drag possible and the most amount of downforce and how you achieve that, that’s going to make your cars fast and that’s no secret. No matter what splitter, spoiler, horsepower, you want your car to be as efficient as possible.”
The first chance to hit the track comes this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, where Daytona 500 qualifying will officially kick off the season. Afterward, No. 88 driver Alex Bowman will be among the competitors in The Clash.
Joining Bowman in the race will be his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson.
“It’s kind of a race to just go out there and learn,” Ives said of The Clash. “Alex wasn’t in it last year, I think it hurt us a little bit because track time is track time, you always want to get on track.”
With that in mind, Ives is excited for the opportunity to gather as much information as possible in advance of next Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Through the many changes and updates made for the new campaign, the best way to see how it all plays out will be on the track.