Right Sides Only: Notes from the Toyota Owners 400 Winning Crew Chief, Greg Ives

 

On the same day that the former driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet began his rookie season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the current driver of that iconic car took it to Victory Lane at Richmond Raceway. Jimmie Johnson may not have won his first race in a new car, but Alex Bowman became the third winner for Hendrick Motorsports this season. 

Bowman won early last year, too. Crew chief Greg Ives said after the Richmond race that winning early not only allowed the team to try new things on their way to the playoffs, but they also learned a lot how not to do things.

"Well, yeah, I mean, last year we won early, I think California," Ives said. "That really set us up for, I wouldn’t say trying things, but we got a little aggressive with certain things. We lost out on stage points. We learned a lot how not to do things.

"Ultimately we gathered it all back together. Had a great run in the Playoffs. The first however many races we had has been a struggle to get the finish. We’ve obviously had the speed, but just never had the finish to get it done. Guy has been growing through adversity. I think that’s the number one thing I can take from this weekend and last, is we grew through the adversity. It wasn’t easy.

"California last year when we won, it seemed it was ours to lose, and we won it. This one, it was ours to win. We had a fast car. I know the 11, 19, and the 22 had fast cars, as well. We knew given the opportunity to line up with them, it was going to be a tough, tough deal. It was going to take something special to make it happen.

"Ultimately that’s what happened. We made some adjustments. Alex got up on the wheel. After our dismal stop there, he came on the radio and said, 'That’s okay, we’re going to just pass all of them again.' Exactly he stayed true to his word," Ives said.

The win wasn't just important for the No. 48 team, but it will mean a lot to the entire HMS family.

"All the guys are motivated to win, motivated to do their best, to do their jobs.

"The off-season added some definitely unneeded motivation in the loss of Rowdy and Blakley. It’s been hard. Every morning we wake up, we’re reminded of the energy that he brought to the team. We just try to bring part of that, that will to never give up.

"I think you saw in Victory Lane how emotional Alex was about it. I think every lap he runs, that’s on his mind, to drive him, to motivate him, to never give up as Rowdy was, give 100%.

"It’s a special win for us to be able to do that. Yeah, we don’t need the added motivation. We’re already right there, trying to get everything we can. That’s a tribute to Rowdy. Just happy we were able to get it done," Ives said. 

So far this season, only Martin Truex Jr. has won multiple races. Now that he has a win under his belt, what does Ives think are Bowman's chances at garnering more wins this season?

"Our short track program, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, was terrible for the 88, 48, and the team that we had running into races. We got to the point where we were going to build off of what he needed.

"You saw some consistency with that in the short tracks last year. We took that same mindset going into Martinsville, Phoenix, and here at Richmond, that we were going to build off setups that he’s comfortable with, build some consistency and feel.

"Kind of like he has in the intermediate 550 program, he has a feel that he likes in the car, that we just fine-tune, we tweak. If he has a general want or need, we adjust for it. That’s ultimately what it’s going to take for us to win more races, is stay consistent, minimize our mistakes, execute all day long.

"Yeah, it wasn’t a clean day by any means. I don’t know if that added fuel for motivation to go out there and put it all out on the line and say, 'Hey, wreckers are checkers,' or if it was just that solid end to the race.

"We’ve had speed all year. Haven’t had the finishes. Whether it’s leading the Daytona 500, getting wrecked out, to running second, having a loose wheel. That’s on me to get better. We did most of that today. We’re going to go home, and I guarantee you work on it some more," Ives explained.

Bowman's win marked the first win for the No. 48 car in almost four years. Ives talked about what it meant to have the car that saw Victory Lane 83 times over Johnson's career back in the winner's circle.

"Yeah, I mean, it’s been a long history of that number behind my career, right? It’s always been a special number for me. When it comes down to numbers, cars, legacy, it doesn’t matter if you’re not winning. That was the ultimate goal, is to get the car back in Victory Lane. It didn’t matter necessarily who was driving it, what number it was.

"It was as a team to do what we did today and represent 48, represent the Ally brand and to get Alex an elusive win here as of lately, Hendrick Motorsports in Victory Lane at Richmond has been pretty satisfying. Like I said, it wasn’t without some hiccups along the road. That’s great. I love that a team can battle through adversity, go out there, dig deep, find out what they’re made of to get a win.

"If we just cruised, lapped the field, cruised to a huge victory, I probably wouldn’t be as satisfied as I am right now for us to have fast cars to battle through some adversity that we’ve been fighting, to go out there and continuously be a team, a team that doesn’t point fingers, but locks arms and go out there and get a win. Not once did Alex come on the radio with any other thing other than, Hey, we’re going to go pass some more cars. That’s what I’m most proud of. That’s what real teams are made of," Ives said.


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Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream most weekends throughout the season.
   
This self-admitted grammar nerd loves reading mysteries, playing in the snow with her dogs, and binge-watching programs with her husband.

 

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Toyota Owners 400 Winning Crew Chief, Greg Ives Right Sides Only: Notes from the Toyota Owners 400 Winning Crew Chief, Greg Ives Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, April 19, 2021 Rating: 5

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