The odd man out at Gibbs, Darian Grubb returns to Hendrick Motorsports

Darian Grubb has spent the past four seasons as a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing.

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Hendrick Motorsports officials said Monday afternoon that Darian Grubb has returned to the team, where he will serve in the newly created position of vehicle production director.

Grubb, who won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship as a lame duck crew chief for Tony Stewart in 2011, spent the past four years at Joe Gibbs Racing as the crew chief for first Denny Hamlin and last year, Carl Edwards.

But Grubb was the odd man out in a JGR crew chief shuffle over the winter, and now he’s moving back to his former team, where he will oversee all aspects of race-car manufacturing for the four-car team, which has earned a record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.

In a release issued by the team Monday, Hendrick officials said Grubb will work with Kasey Kahne’s former crew chief, Kenny Francis, who is now the team’s vehicle technical director. Both Grubb and Francis report to general manager Doug Duchardt.

“We’re excited to welcome Darian back to Hendrick Motorsports,” Duchardt said. “His resume speaks for itself, and he already has a deep understanding of our people, processes and culture. Teaming him with Kenny on our vehicle efforts mirrors the management structure of our engine operation, which has been very effective, and it adds more depth to the organization as a whole. Darian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we know he will make us stronger.”

Grubb’s career began with Petty Enterprises. The Virginia native moved to Hendrick in January 2003 and served as lead race engineer for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Sprint Cup team from 2003-’06. Grubb was atop the No. 48 pit box when Johnson won the Daytona 500 in 2006, and again at Las Vegas, both victories coming after crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended.

Grubb earned one win as crew chief for driver Casey Mears in 2007 before being named engineering manager for the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick Motorsports teams for 2008. In 2009, he became Stewart’s crew chief, winning 11 races and a title in three seasons. For his career as a crew chief, Grubb has 23 race victories.