Darian Grubb discusses details of Joe Gibbs Racing departure

Darian Grubb (left) and Carl Edwards won twice in their only season together.

Since it was announced that Darian Grubb would not return this season as crew chief for Carl Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing, the veteran pit boss has moved on by taking the newly created position of vehicle production director at Hendrick Motorsports.

Grubb, however, seems a bit baffled as to why JGR officials decided to break up he and Edwards in the first place.

With Grubb calling the shots in their first season together as part of JGR’s new fourth team, Edwards won two of the sport’s biggest races — the Coca-Cola 600 and Bojangles’ Southern 500 — en route to a fifth-place finish in the standings.

Missing the Championship 4 cutoff by just five points, Edwards fell one position short of being among the four drivers who competed for the title in the one-race winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But when JGR officials decided to change up the organization’s crew-chief roster for 2016 by promoting Mike Wheeler up from the XFINITY Series to work with Denny Hamlin, and moving Hamlin crew chief Dave Rogers over to Edwards’ team, Grubb was the odd man out.

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

Oddly enough, this wasn’t the first time Grubb has spent the final weeks of a season in limbo.

In 2011, he learned six weeks before the season ended that he would not to be retained as Tony Stewart’s crew chief at Stewart-Haas Racing for 2012. The two still won the title together, with Stewart reeling off an astonishing five victories in the 10 races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"The first conversation I had about it was one week into the Chase," Grubb said on SiriusXM. "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 (with Stewart-Haas) it was six weeks notice, and this time it’s nine.’ I knew something was going to come up with the change, and I guess fifth in points just wasn’t good enough in some people’s eyes, and five points away from running at Homestead (wasn’t enough).

"I knew I was going to be making some changes. I didn’t know what it was going to be, at that point, but I had to start thinking about it, and went on and found out I wasn’t going to be in a crew-chief position. So I had to explore some options."

In an earlier interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Rogers conceded he was caught "off guard a little bit," by the restructuring among JGR’s crew chiefs, but accepted the decision of team owner and three-time Super Bowl-winning coach Joe Gibbs.

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

"I think Coach and the management staff felt there was room for improvement with maybe the 11 (Hamlin) and the 19 (Edwards) and thought chemistry could be improved, so they made some changes," Rogers said. "Joe Gibbs is a great boss — I can’t imagine working for anyone else — so when Coach says, ‘Hey, I think we’re going to make this change,’ it’s pretty easy to accept.

"He’s been in the battle before coaching football and moving people and players around and trying to get the most out of his team, so if Coach thinks this is best, then I buy in and we’re going to give it our best."

As for Grubb, he’s looking forward to his new job at Hendrick where he’ll oversee all aspects of race-car manufacturing and work closely with Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne’s former crew chief, Kenny Francis, who is now the organization’s vehicle technical director.

"Kenny’s just an upstanding guy," said Grubb, who was the engineering manager for the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick teams before leaving for Stewart-Haas in 2009. "I’ve never worked directly with him yet until now, but he’s always been one of those guys that’s a voice of reason, he’ll shoot you straight, you can ask him any question you want in the garage, and he’ll tell you what his right-rear spring is if he doesn’t think it’s anything that’s going to matter for your performance versus his, because he’s probably just going to laugh and say, ‘You’re going to have to know a lot more than that before you’re actually going to make a car run good.’

"He just gets the whole picture."