CONCORD, N.C. – Greg Ives has wasted no time getting adapted to his new role.
At the conclusion of the 2022 season, the Bark River, Michigan, native jumped right into working with Hendrick Motorsports’ Garage 56 project for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"Garage 56 is the main focus," Ives told HendrickMotorsports.com regarding his new position. "I am focused on the performance of the car and executing the tests so that we can drive performance, have maximum speed and durability to be able to run the 24 Hours (of Le Mans) with a good showing."
The 43-year-old Ives has been the right-hand man at the Garage 56 tests for Chad Knaus, the vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. So far the Hendrick Motorsports-built test car has run at Virginia International Raceway, Carolina Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway ahead of the June event in France.
The new role sees Ives collaborating with Knaus, for whom he worked as a race engineer on the No. 48 team from 2006 to 2012. Ives was part of five consecutive Cup Series championships from 2006 to 2010 with Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson.
RELATED: Look back at Greg Ives' career highlights
"When I started on the 48 in 2006, I was pretty quick to build a relationship with him," Ives said of Knaus. "You never can replace time in relationships because you go through good times and you go through bad times and work through all the times. I feel like we have been able to do that and still have a successful relationship over nearly 19 years. There’s a lot of respect between the both of us."
While Garage 56 is currently at the top of Ives’ list or projects, the veteran of eight full-time seasons as a Cup Series crew chief will also be involved with supporting all four of Hendrick Motorsports teams.
"The vision, the plan and the goal is to work closely with Chad and the crew chiefs to be able to have a communication line to General Motors and the GM Tech Center as well as the other key partners," Ives said.
"We have done a great job at Hendrick Motorsports of getting the four teams very close and sharing together and ultimately for the prize and the goal of having Hendrick Motorsports win."
Ives experienced his fair share of victories -10 - atop the pit box as a crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015-17) and Alex Bowman (2018-22). Seven of those came with Bowman, a driver he helped guide to the playoffs in each of their five seasons together. He also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with Chase Elliott in 2014 at the Hendrick Motorsports-affiliated JR Motorsports program.
With Ives’ move into a new role, crew chief Blake Harris has come aboard to lead the No. 48 team. Much of the personnel from the 2022 remains in place, which is something that should ease the transition period for the new team leader.
RELATED: Continuity important to Harris with No. 48 team
"I think Blake is going to bring a lot of great things to the relationship and also a lot of great things are still going to be established within the team," Ives said.
"I think their relationship – people talk about there’s going to be an acclimation time – I don’t think there is an acclimation time. I think those days of acclimation are gone just because there are so many people surrounding those two individuals that the speed at which they are successful is going to be right there. As far as winning races and performing well, I expect that to happen right away and I think that is going to be natural."
Ives also reflected on his decision to step away from being a full-time crew chief at the end of 2022 – a decision he made to spend more time around his family. He and his wife Jessica have three children – Payton, Taylor and Parker.
"The thing that we got to remember is the choice for me to come off the road was not due to lack of performance or Alex’s wanting to change or me thinking I needed to change," Ives said. "It was the time in my life where I got to the point that family was more important and if I continued to crew chief, I would not be doing a service to Alex, Hendrick Motorsports and the race team.
"I know Alex is going to go out and be committed 100 percent to being prepared and I think Blake is doing the same thing on his side of things as well as every individual I put in place going into this season. I am excited to watch it. I’ll be their biggest supporter and I’ll be cheering them on."
RELATED: Ives reflects on crew chief tenure at Hendrick Motorsports
Between his involvement in the undertaking of Garage 56 and his work with the teams of Hendrick Motorsports, Ives appreciates the faith that those at the 14-time championship-winning organization have placed in him with nearly 20 years of service to the company.
"The biggest thrill is just continuously being part of something unique and something great," Ives said. "Coming to Hendrick Motorsports in 2004, I was willing to walk through any door that was open for me bringing hard work, passion and my knowledge for what I thought I could do. To have people like Mr. (Rick) Hendrick (team owner), Jeff Gordon (vice chairman), Chad, Jeff Andrews (team president and general manager). All these people continuously believe in my abilities to lead a team like this and to be part of it is something that is pretty cool.
"In this industry and any type of job you have to work hard at, with long hours and being away from your family, the reward has to be greater than the sacrifice. I feel like that is what you get from being here at Hendrick Motorsports. When you work hard, you are rewarded with the gratification of words of affirmation. The job doesn’t go unnoticed. That to me means a lot."