And the winner is... Greg Ives! The NASCAR Sprint Cups Series 2014 season started out with one story line that dominated the talk among Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. News hit that the crew chief for the No. 88 car, Steve Letarte, would be leaving the garage and pit box for a new job with NBC.
Since then Letarte and Earnhardt have crafted what could be called the team’s best season ever.
Suddenly the question heading into 2014 was who would replace Letarte in 2015. Hendrick Motorsports made it a priority to not let talk of the search for a replacement interfere with the season. The media respected the request as journalists stopped short of asking the question during every news event or press conference.
Now Hendrick Motorsports has answered the quiet question as they announced a new crew chief for the 2015 season. The new man on top of the pit box for the most popular driver in racing will be Greg Ives. The announcement looks to be one that Earnhardt is very happy with.
“I know what Greg is all about and really respect him,” Earnhardt said. “He’s a strong leader with a cool personality, and we’re both competitors who want to win. It was important to find someone who would fit at Hendrick Motorsports and inside our shop, and he will for sure do that. We got the best guy for the job, and I look forward to working with him next year.
Ives will actually be making a return trip to the organization as he was with Hendrick Motorsports before. Ives has a great resume in the NASCAR world and was the number-one choice to replace Letarte according to Earnhardt and team owner Rick Hendrick.
He will be picking up the reins of a team that, at this point in the season, appears to be one of the best in racing. The newly named crew chief for the No. 88 team said that it was an amazing opportunity.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me and my family,” Ives said. “Dale Jr. and I have a great relationship from being in the same shop at Hendrick Motorsports and my time at JRM (JR Motorsports.) We have a lot left to do this season in the Nationwide Series, but I’m excited about what’s ahead and look forward to sharing some wins with JR Nation in the future. I couldn’t ask for a better situation than working with one of the best drivers and teams in racing.”
Ives has a great resume in the NASCAR world and was the number-one choice to replace Letarte according to Earnhardt and team owner Rick Hendrick, since he is currently with Earnhardt’s NASCAR Nationwide series team he's used to working with Earnhardt. Ives has been with JRM serving as the crew chief for Regan Smith and now Chase Elliott.
According to team owner Rick Hendrick bringing Ives back to Hendrick was a perfect fit. In some ways he really never left the fold as JRM and Hendrick Motorsports have a traditional Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series working relationship.
“Greg was our number-one choice,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “This is a talented guy who already has a terrific rapport with Dale Jr. and is a fit with the organization."
Ives was once with Hendrick Motorsports as a mechanic starting back in 2004. He then transitioned to working with the Jimmy Johnson No. 48 team as an engineer. During that stint with Chad Knauss, crew chief for Johnson, Ives helped the team bring home 42 wins, 21 poles, and 113 top-five finishes.
From 2006 to 2010 Ives helped Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus click off five consecutive Cup championships. The move back to the Hendrick garage will pair him once again with a team, and organization, that he has had so much success with. The No. 88 team and the No. 48 team share the same shop facility at Hendrick Motorsports.