3 reasons Darian Grubb’s return to Hendrick is a win-win

As a crew chief, Darian Grubb won 23 races and a championship.

Among active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs, Chad Knaus has 73 victories and Todd Parrott has 33. No one else who is still an active crew chief has more than 20.

Darian Grubb, a Virginia Tech-trained engineer, won 23 races as a crew chief and a championship with Tony Stewart in 2011. Monday afternoon, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Grubb would return to the team that employed him from 2003-08.

But he won’t be a crew chief anymore; instead, Grubb will serve as vehicle production director, a role in which he will oversee the production of Sprint Cup chassis and bodies for the team. Grubb will work alongside another former crew chief, Kenny Francis, with both men reporting to Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt.

Following are three reasons the move is win-win for Grubb and Hendrick.


More sanity — There isn’t a more thankless job in NASCAR than being a Sprint Cup crew chief. There are 38 races a year and seemingly endless NASCAR and/or Goodyear tests, sponsor obligations, rules changes and having to deal with pesky reporters. Sooner or later, life on the road grinds even the best people down. Yeah, the money is good, but with all the travel and having to be versed in state-of-the art engineering concepts while having the motivation skills to lead a crew, it’s a tough life. Plus in the age of social media, crew chiefs are lightning rods for criticism when their driver doesn’t win.  

More job security — Think about this for a minute: The average annual crew chief turnover in the Cup series is about 35 percent. Grubb was the championship crew chief for Stewart in 2011, but was told before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that he was going to be let go at the end of that season. Last year, Grubb launched a start-up fourth team at Joe Gibbs Racing and helped Carl Edwards to a fifth-place finish in points, yet he was shuffled out at the end of the season. That won’t be a problem in his new job.

Good fit — Grubb knows Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports knows him. Because he worked there for six seasons, Grubb knows the people at Hendrick, the policies, the philosophies and the operation. He can come in and hit the ground running, and the team can be confident it’s getting a seasoned veteran who will be an asset to its operations. And, oh, yeah, some of the things Grubb learned at JGR no doubt will be applied at Hendrick, too.

All things considered, this move is a win-win for both parties.