The preseason storylines for Hendrick Motorsports this year have been dominated by high-profile crew chief shake-ups, including Chad Knaus moving to William Byron and the No. 24 team and Jimmie Johnson’s pairing with new crew chief Kevin Meendering. Amongst all the moving parts and pieces, a storyline that may be overlooked has to do with stability.
That stability comes from behind the wheel of Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet and Greg Ives on top of the pit box.
“Not a lot of change from a personnel standpoint,” said Ives, who returns for his fifth season as a crew chief in the Monster Energy Series for the organization. “You know Alex and I working on a full year together, from that standpoint is going to be very good to have that familiarity.”
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Those bonds may go a long way this year with NASCAR’s new rules package taking effect once teams pack up and leave Daytona Beach after the Daytona 500.
“The change to the rules package, whether it’s downforce, drag, the engine package, all that stuff is the change we are going to have to attack now, and it’s nice not to have that change within the team affecting it,” Ives said. “We are building that bond, building that mesh and the change we are going to see is the performance on the race track.”
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Ives is also confident in his driver’s ability. In 2017, Bowman ran two Xfinity Series races for Chip Ganassi Racing, winning his first race out in Charlotte after an eight-month absence from NASCAR’s top three series. “He wasn’t in competition for the full season,” Ives said. “He got into a quality car at Charlotte and you saw him progress over the course of whole race.”
But there is more fueling the crew chief’s confidence in his driver’s ability to get it done on track, specifically the poise Bowman showed in a Stage 1 win in the 2018 Monster Energy Open that earned him a spot in the All-Star Race.
“It’s exciting to not only go off of what he did in that Xfinity race but what you guys probably saw in the All-Star race with him,” Ives said. “I wouldn’t say we started up front. We were able to go up, make a pass in the Open and be able to win that.”
Bowman and Ives are set to kick off their 2019 season by defending their Daytona 500 pole win on Sunday, February 10th.