Alex Bowman is going through a new experience in the NASCAR Cup Series as he prepares to work with a new crew chief next season after the impending departure of current crew chief Greg Ives.
Ives made it public Friday that he’s going to step away from the role at the end of the year. The duo has worked together full-time since 2018, when Bowman inherited Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car at Hendrick Motorsports after Earnhardt’s retirement.
“I’ve known for a little bit and it’s emotional,” Bowman said. “Greg is the only successful Cup crew chief I’ve ever had. At this level, every other team I drove for was such a different situation than Hendrick Motorsports; I don’t really know anything else.
“But really happy for Greg and the fact that he’ll be able to spend more time with [son] Parker and the rest of his kids, spend more time at home. This schedule is a lot, so, just with where he’s at in life, I think it’s going to be really good for him, and I’m excited to have 11 more chances to win with him and thankful for the wins we have together so far.”
The two have won seven races together over the last four years. Four of those wins came last year, which was the first time Bowman’s won multiple races in a season. In 2020, they finished sixth in points, which was a career-best for Bowman.
The Hendrick driver revealed he was informed of Ives’ decision when Ives came to his house to have the conversation in person.
“I’ve honestly been pretty surprised of how involved Chad [Knaus] and everybody has let me be so far,” Bowman said of finding his next crew chief. “We’ve talked a lot, and it’s been kind of cool to be able to be involved in that. I’m looking forward to it. Like I said, Greg and I have been together a long time, and I don’t know anything else. It’s kind of scary but exciting at the same time.”
Family time was the reason behind Ives making the decision, although he is not leaving Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman joked he feels bad for kids who race go-karts around the country because now Ives has serious time to spend helping Parker with his racing.
“It’s been a great ride, but ultimately it came to the point where I’m ready to be home with my family [as a] go-karting softball dad, and maybe even flag football coach,” Ives said.
He admitted he’s thought about his future for quite some time but seriously began considering something different in recent weeks. Last weekend, Ives spent time with Todd Gordon to get some insight on making such a decision as Gordon stepped away from his role as a crew chief at Team Penske at the end of 2021.
“The last few years [with] Chad [Knaus] taking on his competition role and with him and I working well together, it’s kind of one of those things [where] we’ve been trying to work together again,” Ives said. “I would say it started as long as four years ago and as early as a couple of months ago. Different opportunities definitely come up and…I think the final decision came a couple of weeks ago.
“I wanted time to tell Alex, and ultimately I needed the time to tell the team and get it out before the playoffs start, just so there were no distractions and we can go out there and win 11 races and a championship.”
Bowman and Ives qualified for the playoffs with a win at Las Vegas in March. They are currently 11th in the championship standings with the regular season ending Saturday night at Daytona.