chevy racing–nascar–sonoma–greg ives

GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE Teleconference Highlight: THIS WEEK, ALL THE TALK HAS BEEN ABOUT 269 WINS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND THAT GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT. YOU’VE BEEN WITH HENDRICK FOR QUITE SOME TIME. HOW MANY OF THOSE VICTORIES HAVE YOU PERSONALLY BEEN INVOLVED WITH?“Yeah, I’ve been at Hendrick Motorsports since 2004; 17 years now. I took a little bit of time and went over to Junior Motorsports for two years but was still employed by Hendrick Motorsports. I don’t know how many of those wins I was part of but I’m fortunate to have my whole career be at one company and to be able to add to that total as a crew chief and engineer and a crewman, as well. It’s been a blessed career that I’ve had. Mr. Hendrick makes it a really great place to work. We hope not to stop at 269 and continue the success that we’ve had this year.”
HOW MUCH HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ALEX BOWMAN DEVELOPED OVER THESE FEW YEAR? IT SEEMS LIKE YOU ARE HITTING ON ALL CYLINDERS THIS YEAR. TALK ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. YOU ARE STILL ABLE TO SALVAGE TOP-5 FINISHES WITH A CAR THAT ISN’T UP TO HIS LIKING.“As far as Alex goes, he’s a very easy guy to get along with. I don’t want to put simple as being a bad word to use because he loves race cars, he loves cars, and he likes driving cars and racing them. So, whether it’s a Sprint Car or a Cup car or whatever he has in his garage from a classic truck or whatever he has. Understanding that and being able to connect on that level is very easy for me. I do like cars. I love racing. Generally, in that relationship, you don’t have to work very hard to make it happen and to communicate on a level that we both understand. I really enjoy the progress and the relationship we’ve been able to grow over the course of the last three or four years. I know when he filled in for Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) there and was kind of maybe thrown in there and maybe forced a little bit in a situation where he might have not maybe been as comfortable as he is now. I’m very thankful for our relationship as it continues to grow.
“On our race cars, we’ve been able to take cars that maybe weren’t race-winning cars; maybe not even top-5 cars and be able to finish in the top-5 with them and/or go out there and win with them. And that’s truly Alex Bowman coming into his own as a driver and understanding his capabilities and where the limits are with our equipment. Charlotte, I don’t think we could have won that race. We didn’t have a top-5 car due to certain circumstances, but we took a 10th place car and finished fifth with it, and that’s a credit to the team, the pit crew, and Alex saying hey man, that’s okay. I’ll get it from here. And we’ve been trying to work on that over the course of him becoming the leader of the team. You kind of know when he’s there when we had a penalty at Richmond and he says hey, it’s okay. We’re going to drive to the front and pass them all again. That’s his maturity and that’s him growing as a driver and the leader of this No. 48 Ally team.’
WITH NO RACE AT SONOMA LAST YEAR AND THE HIGH DOWNFORCE, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT TO PREPARE?“We’re kind of going back a little bit to 2018. Even back to the days when we had Dale and had some success there at that track. The ROVAL, the Daytona Road Course, COTA, we all kind of ran really well there. I think Sonoma adds a different dynamic to what road courses we’ve been running on. I wouldn’t say we’re adjusting the set-up differently, but we have a different concept going to Sonoma that we think is going to work for that place. The high falloff. The change to the course. Adding the carousel adds a different dynamic we have to adjust on, and we only have notes on that from the high downforce. So yeah, I look forward to getting out there. Alex sometimes doesn’t give himself enough credit as a road course driver, but I feel like he does a great job and gives the feedback he needs for me to make adjustments to get him where he can win the race.”
THIS WILL BE YOUR THIRD ROAD COURSE RACE OF THE YEAR. WILL YOU BE ABLE TO PREDICT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEXT THREE ROAD COURSES?“You never really can predict the unfortunate circumstances. But what I do see, is that we have a great foundation of set-ups at Hendrick Motorsports. We have a great team of drivers that lean on each other to extract speed and you never want to be the fourth guy at the company crossing the finish line. And we were that at the 600. Even though it was fifth, we didn’t feel too good about it. That little self-driven determination is sometimes worth more time than an adjustment on a race car. Looking at the Pro-Invitational at Chicago yesterday, it’s looking like more and more road courses are on the horizon. And whether you’re good at them or not, you had better figure out how to get better at them. I’m looking forward to just keeping improving.”
I ALSO ASKED CLIFF DANIELS THIS QUESTION. AFTER THE COKE 600, KYLE BUSCH WAS ASKED WHERE HE THOUGHT JOE GIBBS RACING STACKED UP AGAINST HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. HE SAID IF KYLE LARSON AND THE NO. 5 TEAM ARE A 10 RIGHT NOW, WE’RE A SEVEN. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT’S BEING RECEIVED AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?“Yeah, it’s pretty funny how we race in circles and sometimes that’s a trend of performance, right? You look back a couple of years ago and Joe Gibbs won a multitude of races, probably half of them in a year. I remember the No. 24 and No. 48 doing that back in the mid-2000’s. You think that’s going to carry on for the rest of your life and it doesn’t. At some point, Hendrick Motorsports isn’t going to be as dominant, and it was that in the near past. A fifth place at the Coke 600 for the No. 48 team would have been a win a couple of years ago. I’ve been in the situation before of winning races and a lot of races and championships and many in a row. It’s tough being on top because your mind wants to tell your body and your heart that it’s okay to just be complacent. Not that anybody is in that state, but when things become easy sometimes you take the easy road. I know, as the leader of our company with Chad (Knaus) and guys like Cliff and Alan (Gustafson) and Rudy (Fugle) and myself, that’s generally not going to be the case.”
WITHOUT AS MUCH PRACTICE NOW, DO YOU THINK IT’S HARDER TO CATCH WHERE YOU GUYS ARE?“By the time you get 50 minutes of practice to adjust here and there, I don’t think it’s necessarily makes you deficient on how you catch up, or more efficient, however you want to say it. It can help a little bit. Any time the drivers are in the car and going around the race track, you’re going to learn. But so are we, so it comes down to your resources, which are your people, your tools, and how you execute, I can argue either way if you want to take one side, I’ll take the other and we can debate it out. But I think with practice we’re going to be fine and without practice we’re going to be fine. We’ve just got to go execute it, make mistakes, and learn from them.”
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF SONOMA RACEWAY FOR A CREW CHIEF?“Well, the new one is the carousel, right? Ultimately, the carousel is a high-speed left-hander that Sonoma really never had. You had Turn 1. You maybe had something in the ess. You had those higher speed lefts were minimal. Now you have the carousel, where it’s kind of off camber. It’s just kind of an awkward turn for the drivers to navigate and getting tight-off there and setting up for a really big braking and passing zone has definitely added some more difficulty to Sonoma. It has taken away some heavy braking zones into Turn 4 and Turn 7, where you typically get wheel-hop and those types of things. It gets a little wide, and then quickly narrow going into Turn 7. So, there’s just a lot of different nuances. And then you need to worry about the tire fall-off, right? You don’t need to stop before a Stage. You really just are playing that tire strategy game the whole race. The whole thing. Yes, it’s difficult to win at Sonoma. I remember when Jimmie (Johnson) won his first time there. It took a mistake by another driver for him to win. So, no matter if he did everything right, it comes down to one guy making a mistake, maybe not yourself, to win that race. So, it’s a difficult race track and a fun place to go. Flying out there is difficult sometimes, too, just how long it is. But generally, Sonoma is unlike most places we go as far as road courses. You can only tie in a very small amount of set up from other tracks that we’ve been at already.”
WHAT HAS THE RELATIONSHIP BEEN LIKE WITH CHAD KNAUS AS COMPETITION DIRECTOR?IT SEEMS LIKE THESE PAST FEW WEEKS THAT HE HAS REALLY HELPED GET HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO ANOTHER LEVEL WITH THESE TOP-5 RESULTS.“There’s no doubt that Chad has a high influence in racing, right? That’s his passion. Anybody that has a passion is going to make an impact, especially when they go from the track to the shop. That’s usually the highest disconnect as far as when you go into the shop area is, what do the race teams endure when you get to the race track. Chad has been able to help the guys at the shop to be able to say hey, this is what we need to do to get better. This is what the guys need when they show up t the shop on Monday, the state that the cars are in, and what they need to be able to work on. They don’t need to be completing race cars. They need to be detailing them out. There’s a lot of things that definitely go into it all. He always has a plan and executing a plan is one of his biggest assets and we’re very thankful for that.”