If the name Greg Ives sounds familiar at all, that’s because it is. Ives was the top engineer for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet through all five of Johnson’s championships.
Ives will be joining JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series to crew chief for Regan Smith and the No.5 team in 2013.
“Greg comes highly regarded,” JRM co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “He has been a huge part of the 48 team’s success, and this is a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet as a crew chief. The partnership between JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports gives us the opportunity to help employees advance their careers while still keeping them in the family, so to speak.”
Smith drove for Furniture Row Racing in the No.78 Chevrolet for most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. Towards the end of the season, Furniture Row let Smith go, replacing him with Kurt Busch. Smith’s plans were to finish off the rest of the season at Phoenix Racing driving the No.51 Chevrolet for James Finch, but of course it did not quite work out that way.
Dale Earnhardt Jr suffered a concussion at Talladega – erring him not to drive for the next two races at Charlotte and Kansas; Smith was called on to pilot the No.88 National Guard Chevrolet instead. Once Earnhardt Jr. was cleared healthy and reclaimed his ride – Smith found himself without a ride for the next two races as Finch had decided to split the remaining races in his No.51 between A.J Allmendinger and Smith. Smith took over the car for the final two Sprint Cup races at Phoenix and Homestead.
Smith also competed in his first Nationwide Series race for JR Motorsports at Homestead, where he got his first victory. Adding Ives as a crew chief, who has been part of 42 wins, 113 top-fives and 21 poles in seven years with the No. 48 team should say a lot about how the team feels about winning. Smith getting his first win in his first start shows why the JR Motorsports thought Smith would be a good addition to the team – and hes already proved them right.
“I have always aspired to be a crew chief, but it couldn’t have happened without Hendrick Motorsports recognizing my goals early and giving me opportunities to ultimately reach them,” Ives said. “And it doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by people like Rick Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire 48/88 shop. They are the best in the sport – not just as racers but as people – and I plan to carry that experience with me to JR Motorsports.”
The team also said that are only looking to field one full time car next season, while having the No.88 car to field Dale Earnhardt Jr. and maybe other drivers in select races. This shift from two full time cars to one full time and a part time car could leave Cole Whitt without a full time ride next season.