Kasey Kahne will have Darian Grubb as his crew chief for the remaining nine races of the NASCAR Cup playoffs and Kahne’s tenure with Hendrick Motorsports, the team announced Monday.
Grubb replaces Keith Rodden, who has been with Kahne on the No. 5 Chevrolet since 2015. Hendrick makes the move after Kahne finished 21st, three laps down in Sunday’s playoff-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Kahne, who qualified for the playoffs with his Brickyard 400 win in July, left Chicagoland 15th in the playoff standings, five points behind the cutoff for the second round.
The Brickyard 400 win was the only one for Kahne and Rodden in their three seasons together at Hendrick. It is Rodden’s only victory in 138 races as a Cup crew chief. The Indy win also is Kahne’s only top-10 finish in the last 17 races.
Before taking over crew chief duties on the No. 5 in 2015, Rodden worked with Kahne on the No. 5 from 2012-13 as the lead engineer before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing for one season.
That one year was the only gap for Rodden in more than a decade of working on cars driven by Kahne.
Rodden remains under contract to Hendrick Motorsports through the end of this season. The team said he will be assigned other responsibilities.
“I’m looking forward to working with the team for the rest of the season,” Grubb said in a press release. “I enjoy competing in a playoffs environment, and we have tremendous resources at Hendrick Motorsports to pull from. I’m ready to get started this weekend.”
Grubb returned to Hendrick Motorsports in January 2016 as the vehicle production director and was recently promoted to director of competition systems.
Grubb originally joined Hendrick in January 2003, where he worked as the lead race engineer for the No. 48 team through 2006, including four races as interim crew chief during the team’s 2006 championship season when Chad Knaus was suspended to start the season. Johnson won two of those races, including the Daytona 500.
Grubb earned one win in 2007 as crew chief for Casey Mears before being named engineering manager for the No. 5 and 88 teams for 2008.
“Darian is an extremely talented and experienced crew chief,” said Hendrick Motorsports president Marshall Carlson in the press release. “Having been back with us for more than 20 months, he knows all of our people and processes. There’s no one more prepared to hit the ground running at this point in the year.”
Grubb was the crew chief for Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2011 when he won five races in the playoffs on the way to winning his third Cup title. From 2012-15, Grubb worked for Joe Gibbs Racing, earning nine wins with Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.