In 2017, Greg Ives embarks on his third season atop the pit box for fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet SS team after a successful first two years as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief.
A native of Bark River, Michigan, Ives grew up working at racetracks with his father and older brother and spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, Ives résumé ended up in the hands of Hendrick Motorsports team manager Brian Whitesell, who invited the aspiring engineer to meet at Daytona International Speedway during the 2004 Daytona 500 race weekend. To make the appointment, the self-described “grease monkey” drove from Michigan to Florida, sleeping in his car in the process, and subsequently landed a formal interview a few weeks later. He then joined the No. 24 team of four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon as a shop mechanic, putting in extra hours on the setup plate and volunteering at the racetrack whenever the team was within driving distance.
On the same day Ives found out he would be a first-time father, he was offered a traveling position as the race engineer for the No. 48 team led by crew chief Chad Knaus. His arrival coincided with driver Jimmie Johnson’s historic run of five consecutive Cup championships. In seven years with the No. 48 team (2006-2012), Ives took part in 42 wins, 113 top-five finishes and 21 pole positions.
In November 2012, Ives transitioned to JR Motorsports, the NASCAR XFINITY Series team owned by Earnhardt and affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports, as crew chief for Regan Smith. The duo earned two victories, eight top-five finishes and 19 top-10s en route to a third-place finish in the 2013 XFINITY Series standings.
Prior to the 2014 season, Ives was named crew chief for Chase Elliott. He guided the rookie driver to three victories, two pole positions, 16 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s, winning JR Motorsports’ first XFINITY Series championship in the process. Elliott became the youngest champion in series history and the first NASCAR driver ever to win a national series title and rookie of the year in the same season.
Following his historic run in the XFINITY Series, Ives returned to Hendrick Motorsports -- this time as crew chief for Earnhardt, the two-time Daytona 500 winner and 14-time most popular driver. In 2015, Ives earned his first Cup victory as a crew chief on May 3 at Talladega Superspeedway. He led Earnhardt to three wins and helped the driver tie his personal records for top-five finishes (16) and top-10s (22).
As a rookie, Ives received the 2015 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year award, which goes to the Cup crew chief who posts the best overall performance throughout the year, most consistently demonstrates problem-solving excellence and wins the most MOOG Problem Solver of the Race awards. The weekly awards recognize the crew chief whose car posts the largest increase in average lap speed from the first half to the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Ives earned the distinction five times.
In 2016, Ives guided the No. 88 team through a season of highs and lows as Earnhardt, seeming to be in a solid position to make his sixth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series playoff appearance, missed the final 18 races of the season while recovering from a concussion. Gordon (eight races) and young talent Alex Bowman (10 races) filled in for the second half of the season, with Bowman earning a pole position for the Ives-led No. 88 team at Phoenix International Raceway. All totaled, the No. 88 team earned five top-five finishes (all with Earnhardt) and 11 top-10 finishes (across the three drivers) in 2016 under Ives’ leadership.
When Ives isn’t at the racetrack, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. His hobbies include yard work and cheering on his favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers.