CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday will mark the end of an era for Greg Ives.
The NASCAR Cup Series season-finale race at Phoenix Raceway will be his final one atop the pit box as he transitions to a new role in the organization. Alex Bowman will be back behind the wheel for Ives’ final race after missing the previous five races with a concussion suffered in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 25.
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"To be able to go race together one more time is really special," Ives said. "I’ve spent most of my Cup (Series) career with Alex and I am glad he was cleared to race this weekend so we can go to Phoenix and try to get one more win.
"I’ve said it all year and it holds true this weekend, we just have to keep maximizing on our opportunities and take it one stage at a time. If everyone plays their part, we have a really good shot at winning on Sunday."
In eight seasons as a crew chief at the Cup Series level, Ives has won 10 races and worked with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015-17), Alex Bowman (2016, 2018-22), Jeff Gordon (2016) and Noah Gragson (2022). Entering the race at Phoenix, Ives has 50 top-five finishes, 107 top-10s and five poles in 285 Cup Series starts. The 43-year-old was the crew chief of the No. 88 from 2015-20, before shifting over to the No. 48 with Bowman in 2021.
Ives’ seven wins with Bowman over the past five seasons are tied for fifth-best among driver-crew chief pairings that were together through this season – his other three Cup Series wins came with Earnhardt Jr. in 2015. In 2021, Bowman and Ives teamed up for a four-win season and that mark stands as a single-season best for both driver and crew chief.
"I am glad I can do one more race with Greg (Ives)," Bowman said. "We both wanted one more race together and for that to happen at Phoenix (Raceway) is really exciting. To this day, we both feel like we have unfinished business from 2016 and the whole crew is more motivated than ever to get it done this Sunday."
The Bowman-Ives duo nearly scored the victory in just their ninth start together in 2016 at Phoenix when the driver was filling for a sidelined Earnhardt Jr. Bowman won the pole position and led 194 laps before settling for a sixth-place finish – his best result from his fill-in stint that year.
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Ives' history with Hendrick Motorsports runs deep. The Bark River, Michigan, native earned a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech and his resume ended up in the hands of Brian Whitesell (now the vice president of manufacturing at Hendrick Motorsports). He invited Ives to meet during 2004 Daytona Speedweeks. And so the future crew chief drove 1,500 miles from Michigan to Florida before landing a formal interview a few weeks later. Ives would go on to join the No. 24 team of Gordon, the four-time Cup Series champion, as a shop mechanic.
Ives was offered a traveling position by Chad Knaus as the race engineer for the No. 48 team ahead of the 2006 season. His arrival to the team came in the same season that Jimmie Johnson’s run of five consecutive Cup Series championships kicked off. Ives spent seven years with the No. 48 team and was a part of 42 wins from 2006 to 2012.
For the 2013 season, he moved to JR Motorsports, a NASCAR Xfinity Series team owned by Earnhardt Jr. and affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports, to become a crew chief for Regan Smith. After a two-win season, he was paired with Chase Elliott in the future Hendrick Motorsports driver’s first year in the Xfinity ranks. Together, they won three races and the 2014 Xfinity Series championship. The title was the first for JRM. Ives then rejoined Hendrick Motorsports but as a crew chief.
"Greg (Ives) has been such an important part of our company," Rick Hendrick said during a media availability this week. "When you look at Jimmie Johnson's success when he was the engineer with Chad (Knaus) and all the success they had, and then he moved up into the crew chief role, he's done an unbelievable job there.
"He wants to come off the road a little bit, and he can be a big asset to Chad in the shop. We're going to miss him as a crew chief, but he'll have so much input to help all the teams."
RELATED: Putting family first, Ives to step down as crew chief at season's end
Ives cited a desire to put his family first when he announced his decision to step down as the No. 48 crew chief. He and wife Jessica have three children – Payton, Taylor and Parker.
"It’s been a great ride but ultimately it came to the point where I am ready to be home with my family," Ives said.