CONCORD, N.C. – When the checkered flag fell on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season at Phoenix Raceway, it marked the end of Greg Ives’ time atop the pit box as a full-time crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports.
The 43-year-old announced his decision to retire from the pit box in August and cited a desire to put his family first. Ives and his wife Jessica have three children – Payton, Taylor and Parker. He has transitioned to a new role in the organization that will see him support Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition Chad Knaus.
Ives' 287 starts came with drivers Alex Bowman (185 races), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (89 races), Jeff Gordon (eight races) and Noah Gragson (five races).
"I had a lot of satisfying experiences as a crew chief," Ives told HendrickMotorsports.com. "The win that we had at Talladega (Superspeedway, May 2015 with Earnhardt Jr.) was truly special."
That was Ives’ first of 10 wins as a crew chief – seven of those coming with Bowman and three victories with Earnhardt Jr.
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The Ives-Bowman pairing formed a quick bond when they were together for part of the 2016 season while Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined with a concussion. They would go on to spend five full-time seasons together from 2018 to 2022. The duo ended this season with the sixth-most wins among active driver-crew chief pairings.
"Understanding Alex’s path, I feel like that was very similar to the path I took – working on the cars verses driving them," Ives said. "It was easy to form that relationship and understand the passion it takes to get to this level. All in all, it’s been great working with Alex and being a part of his career."
Bowman is truly appreciative of the role Ives has played in helping guide his Cup Series career along.
"The biggest thing was he just embraced me in ’16 and helped me through that," Bowman said of when he stepped in to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet. "Coming in as a fill-in driver and having somebody put in that much effort, I really appreciated that.
"To be able to carry that over for the rest of our relationship has been really cool. Just having somebody on the team that cares that much means a lot. Everything he does, he is that way. Whether its Parker’s go-kart racing or Cup racing, he's all in."
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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.
"Whenever you start on a journey, you always want it to be success," Ives said. When I was a rookie in racing, they asked me what I wanted to do in 10 years. I said I was going to work for Hendrick Motorsports. At 16, I didn’t know what that meant. I was always more intrigued by the physics and the mechanics behind the race car rather than driving it as much.
"I continued with my schooling and got my foot in the door here at Hendrick Motorsports. Brian Whitesell and Robbie Loomis saw that - saw a kid that had a mechanical background and engineering background.
"…Ultimately I think what sold them was the fact that I was a racer. Somebody who drove the car and worked on the car. That’s the kind of person they wanted to get in the system and grow."
Ives was offered a traveling position by 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.
PHOTOS: Ives on hand at Garage 56 test at Virginia International Raceway
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 in 2015.
"Looking back at my career as a crew chief, it was not always easy but we were able to find ways to win and ways to be successful," Ives said. "You always feel like there’s more. I think that’s the biggest thing that makes a crew chief successful – never wavering in trying to be better. I feel like that is a great thing to have not only in life but in this profession.
"It also can be tiresome on your family, so making this decision to step back is one I wanted to make for family. I want to stay loyal to the company that has brought so much to my family and ultimately, my goal is to be there to support Mr. H, the crew chiefs and everybody involved here at Hendrick Motorsports."