Darian Grubb told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Thursday that he was surprised that he wasn’t back as Carl Edwards’ crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I guess fifth in points just wasn’t good enough in some people’s eyes and five points away from running (for the title at) Homestead,’’ Grubb said on the show “Tradin’ Paint.’’
Grubb said he was told after the opener of last year’s Chase at Chicagoland Speedway that changes could be coming, nearly mirroring a situation he had in 2011. He was told during that year’s Chase that he would not return as Tony Stewart’s crew chief. Grubb then went on to help Stewart win the title, beating Edwards.
“I was somewhat surprised,’’ Grubb said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about finding out his position could be in jeopardy last year at JGR. “The first conversation I had about it was one week into the Chase, I was told at that point that I needed to get nine more solid weeks in, and I was like ‘Well, I’ve been through this before.’ Last time it was six weeks’ notice. This time, it was nine. I knew something was going to come up with the change.
“I knew I was going to be making some changes. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I had to start thinking about it. Then went on and found out I wasn’t going to be in a crew chief position, so I had to explore some options.’’
Those moves led Grubb, who has 23 career Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, back to Hendrick Motorsports. He served as lead engineer for Jimmie Johnson’s team from 2003-06, became Casey Mears’ crew chief in 2007 and was the engineering manager for the No. 5 and 88 teams in 2008 before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing to be Stewart’s crew chief.
Grubb had been with Joe Gibbs Racing since 2012, serving as Hamlin’s crew chief through 2014 and working with Edwards last season.
Grubb’s new role is as vehicle production director at Hendrick Motorsports. He’ll have responsibility for production operations in the chassis and body groups and work alongside technical director Kenny Francis.
“The performance of this entire organization is all about how four cars do on Sunday,’’ said Grubb, who noted he will be at the track a majority of the time in his new position. “We’re going to try to put whatever it takes forward to get the best product we can on the racetrack to give those four teams and crew chiefs the best option they can have to win races.
“Most of the work that happens to decide whether you’re going to have speed or not (at the track), happens on Monday through Thursday before you ever even get to the racetrack,’’ he said. “If you don’t unload fast, you’re probably not going to fix it over the course of the weekend.’’