CONCORD, N.C. — Crew chief Greg Ives has plenty of confidence in his driver and the backup car Alex Bowman will drive in today’s playoff elimination race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
“Junk doesn’t get built at Hendrick Motorsports,” Ives told NBC Sports and The Athletic Sunday morning. “There may be some small details that I don’t like, but nothing that we can’t fix and get right for today.”
Bowman, who wrecked with 35 seconds left in final practice Saturday, will start in the rear after having qualified second Friday.
He does so as he enters the race two points behind the final cutoff spot, held by teammate and pole-sitter William Byron.
Bowman will pilot the same car he had on every road course last year, which included qualifying third and finishing fourth in the inaugural ROVAL race.
When it comes to strategy, Ives has to “change it up, all of it up.
“Stage points are going to be hard to get. All race tracks, no matter where you go, it’s hard to pass. Starting at the back and going to the front is going to be hard. We’ll have to switch up our strategy … focused on Stage 2 points.”
Last year’s race winner, Ryan Blaney, who entered holding the final transfer spot, pitted during a caution on Lap 14. That allowed him to stay out when the field pitted at the end of stage 1 on Lap 25. Blaney moved toward the front and won stage 2, earning 10 stage points and also positioned him to win the race.
But does Ives believe his No. 88 team still has a chance to win?
“Any given Sunday, right?” Ives said. “I think we have the ability. We had the speed in our car. Alex was doing all the right things. Just had one corner, one bad thing happen.”
Ives said the timing of the incident in the final practice session Saturday is irrelevant.
“It doesn’t matter if it happened the first run on the track or the last run on the track,” he said. “You don’t ever question the driver’s ability and I don’t want him to question anything that I do. Our job is to react to whatever his needs are and his need was a new car.”