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Greg Ives to become crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season

Jul 30, 2014, 2:39 PM EST

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Hendrick Motorsports has announced that Greg Ives will take over as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team beginning next season, replacing the NBC Sports-bound Steve Letarte.

Ives currently serves as crew chief for Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott on the No. 9 JR Motorsports team. He also worked as a race engineer for HMS’ No. 48 Sprint Cup team during Jimmie Johnson‘s run of five consecutive Cup championships from 2006-2010.

“This is an incredible opportunity for me and my family,” Ives said in a team release. “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.”

Ives will work directly with No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus in the same shop that the 48 and 88 teams share. Before joining JRM late in 2012, Ives and Knaus collaborated on 42 Sprint Cup wins over a seven-year span.

In his own comments, HMS team owner Rick Hendrick indicated that Ives’ familiarity with Earnhardt (who co-owns JRM with Hendrick) and Knaus was critical to him getting the nod.

“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 with 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.”

In 2013, Ives guided JRM’s Regan Smith to a pair of wins (Talladega, Michigan) and a third-place finish in the Nationwide Series standings before moving over to work with Elliott, the 18-year-old son of former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott.

So far this season, Ives and Elliott have put up impressive results in Nationwide with three wins (Texas, Darlington, Chicagoland), eight Top-5s and 13 Top-10s. Going into Saturday’s race at Iowa Speedway, Elliott holds a four point lead over Smith in that series’ championship.

Elliott has tweeted his congratulations to Ives on his new opportunity:

As for Earnhardt, he hailed Ives as “a strong leader with a cool personality” and a competitive streak that matches his own.

“It was important to find someone who would fit at Hendrick Motorsports and inside our shop, and he will for sure do that,” said NASCAR’s most popular driver. “We got the best guy for the job, and I look forward to working with him next year.

“From a JR Motorsports perspective, I’m extremely proud of how this worked out. Since the end of 2012, we’ve focused on JRM and Hendrick Motorsports working together as closely as possible and developing talented people for the next level. This is a perfect example of that happening the way we hoped it would.”

Earnhardt later tweeted that he and his team “couldn’t be more excited” about Ives coming on board next year, but also stressed that there’s still lots of racing to do this year.

  1. redwings248 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I like it, go dale

  2. manik56 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    The bigger question in my eyes is what does Hendrick do with Elliott? Can JR Motorsports field a one car Cup team with NAPA the sponsor?

    • pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      In my opinion I see Elliot coming to Cup for 2016. Let’s not forget that he’s just graduated high school not too long ago. I’ve been saying that he might be the replacement to Gordon or maybe Kahne if he struggles. And I’m also happy for Junior. Go Junior!

      • gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        He may replace Junior…

      • pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        Replacing Junior? That I don’t see. Junior makes Rick too much money on sales etc. I see Gordon or Kahne as realistic people who could get replaced. Gordon seems most likely. In two years Jeff will be 45 if I’m correct so he seems to make sense.

      • gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        It is getting harder for Junior to get full year sponsorship.

  3. burm61 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Jr Motorsports cannot field a cup team because it’s owner is affiliated with a team with the maximum of 4 cars.

    • gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Can you post a link to that rule?

      TIA

    • gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      I hate to see Steve go. It took him 2 years to fix the damage that Eury, Jr. did to Dale. I am sure Ives will be much better than Eury, Jr though.

    • pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Hendrick is a co-owner…so maybe?

      • gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        He could stop being a co-owner at any time.

  4. gapdragon - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    I hate to see Steve go. It took him 2 years to fix the damage that Eury, Jr. did to Dale. I am sure Ives will be much better than Eury, Jr though.

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