A significant milestone is in the making this weekend for Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE driven by Alex Bowman in the NASCAR Cup Series. When the Cup Series completes its upcoming doubleheader races at Michigan International Speedway, Ives will achieve 200 starts in NASCAR’s premier series as a crew chief.
A native from Bark River, Michigan, Ives graduated from Michigan Technological University with an engineering degree in 2003 and joined Hendrick Motorsports as a mechanic for the No. 24 Chevrolet team driven by Jeff Gordon the following year. As a lead engineer for the No. 48 Chevrolet team driven by Jimmie Johnson and led by crew chief Chad Knaus, Ives was part of Johnson’s historic run of winning five consecutive Cup championships from 2006 to 2010.
Following the 2012 season, Ives spent the next two seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as a crew chief for Regan Smith in 2013 and rookie Chase Elliott in 2014. In his two-year role as crew chief, Ives achieved his first five career wins, two poles, 23 top-five results and 44 top-10 results. In addition, he achieved his first NASCAR championship in 2014 with Elliott.
In July 2014, Ives was named crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS team for the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series season following the departure of veteran Steve Letarte, who joined NBC Sports as an analyst. Nine races into his rookie season as a Cup crew chief, Ives notched his first career win with Earnhardt Jr. in May 2015 at Talladega Superspeedway, the same venue where he also achieved his first Xfinity career win in 2013 with Regan Smith. Throughout the 2015 season, the combo also won at Daytona International Speedway in July and at Phoenix Raceway in November while racking up 16 top-five results and 22 top-10 results. When the final checkered flag of the 2015 Cup season waved, they concluded the season in 12th in the final standings.
The 2016 season was an eventful season for Ives and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team. For the first 18 races, Earnhardt Jr. drove the No. 88 car to five top-five results and six top-10 results, and they were situated in 13th place in the regular-season standings. The following race, however, Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined due to suffering concussion-like symptoms. When Earnhardt Jr. opted out of racing for the remainder of the 2016 season, Ives worked with Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon for the final 18 races. With Gordon, the No. 88 team achieved two top-10 results and seven laps led. With Bowman, the team achieved a pole position at Phoenix in November along with three top-10 results and 200 laps led.
In 2017, Ives reunited with Earnhardt Jr. with Earnhardt receiving medical clearance to return to racing. Following the first eight races of the season, where the combo only achieved one top-five result, Earnhardt Jr. announced his retirement from full-time NASCAR racing following the 2017 season. Three months later, Bowman was named as Earnhardt Jr.’s successor of the No. 88 Chevrolet with Ives to continue to lead the team. Throughout the 2017 season, though he was absent for two races, Ives achieved one top-five result, eight top-10 results and two poles with Earnhardt Jr. before concluding the season in 21st in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 100 Cup starts as a crew chief.
In 2018, following Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement and with Bowman behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro, the combo started off on a high note by winning the pole position for the Daytona 500. Throughout the season, however, Bowman and Ives achieved three top-five results and 11 top-10 results. Though they made the Playoffs, they concluded the season in 16th in the final standings.
The following season, it took until the first 16 races into the new season for Bowman to achieve his first Cup career win at Chicagoland Speedway in June. Bowman’s victory also snapped a three-year winless drought for Ives and the No. 88 team since their last victory in November 2015. Throughout the 2019 season, the two achieved seven top-five results and 12 top-10 results as they made the Playoffs again before concluding the season in 12th in the final standings, four spots higher than the previous season.
Through the first 20 races of this season, Bowman and Ives have achieved one victory at Auto Club Speedway in March. They have also achieved two top-five results and six top-10 results, and they are one of 10 teams to be guaranteed a spot in the 2020 Cup Playoffs. Heading into this weekend’s doubleheader races at Michigan, Ives’ home track, the U.P. native has achieved five career wins, four poles, 34 top-five results and 70 top-10 results in his sixth year as a Cup crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports.
Catch Greg Ives’ milestone at Michigan on August 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.