Greg Ives to Become Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Crew Chief in 2015by Kyle Pokrefky July 31, 2014
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Image
Hendrick Motorsports announced on Wednesday afternoon who will take over as Dale Earnhardt Jr’s crew chief for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.
Greg Ives, current crew chief for Chase Elliott in Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports’ Nationwide Series operation, will assume the role of crew chief for Earnhardt beginning with next year’s Sprint Unlimited at the Daytona International Speedway. Ives will step into the position currently held by Steve Letarte, Earnhardt’s crew chief since 2011, as Letarte will leave Hendrick Motorsports to become an analyst and commentator for NBC Sports beginning midway through next season.
Ives has a total of 51 races under his belt in any of NASCAR’s national series. All 51 of his races have been crew-chiefed in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports – Ives made the strategy calls for the entirety of last season with Regan Smith in the No. 7 car before moving over to Elliott in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts at the beginning of this year. Ives has five wins, 31 top-10s, and an average finish of 10.5 with in his two-year career with JR Motorsports.
The 34-year-old also has previous experience working with a Sprint Cup team, he served as race engineer for Jimmie Johnson on HMS’s multi-championship-winning No. 48 team from 2006-to-2010.
Earnhardt expressed his approval for Ives’ promotion after witnessing first hand the success that he has been able to achieve in his Nationwide Series program. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet also believes that he should be able to get up and running with Ives quickly given his previous experience with the organization.
“Not only is he the most talented candidate, I believe, for the job,” Earnhardt stated. “But it’ll be the most seamless transition. I don’t see how it could go any smoother being that he has that past history and understanding of the building. So everybody’s really excited about it – not just me. I think everybody at Hendrick is excited to have Greg come back.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick also expressed his approval regarding Ives joining his Sprint Cup program.
“Greg was our number-one choice,” Hendrick said. “This is a talented guy who already has a terrific rapport with Dale Jr. and is a fit within the organization. He and Chad had a lot of success together, and all of our crew chiefs think the world of him and what he’s accomplished. Greg’s proven that he can win races, and he has all the tools to do big things.”
Ives himself is looking forward to the challenge that moving up to the Sprint Cup Series as a full-time crew chief but is also not losing sight of his goal of guiding Elliott to a Nationwide Series drivers’ championship in the 18-year-old’s rookie season.
“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. 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.”