Thursday, January 07, 2016

COMMENTARY: Grubb's Move Proves It's Win, Or Else

Darian Grubb’s resume as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief is beyond dispute. A championship with Tony Stewart in 2011, a victory filling in for suspended pit boss Chad Knaus in the 2006 Daytona 500 and recent successes with both Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing make the Virginia native a coveted commodity in the Sprint Cup Series garage. 

Surprisingly, Grubb found himself switching horses during the offseason, when JGR declined to re-sign him, in favor of veteran Dave Rogers. He was quickly snapped up by Hendrick Motorsports, where he punched-in Monday morning as HMS’s new Director of Vehicle Production. But as he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Tradin’ Paint today, the move caught Grubb by surprise.   

“I guess fifth in points just wasn’t good enough in some people’s eyes; five points away from running Homestead,’’ said Grubb, with more than a hint of bitterness. “I was somewhat surprised.” 

Grubb is no stranger to solid seasons, followed by post-season unemployment. In 2011, he hoisted the Sprint Cup Series championship trophy at Homestead Miami Speedway just weeks after being told that he would not return the following season.   

He revealed today that he was put on notice once again at the start of the 2015 Chase; warned that his job was not secure. 

“The first conversation I had about it was one week into the Chase,” he said. “I was told that I needed to get nine more solid weeks in, and I was like, ‘Well, I’ve been through this before.’ Last time, it was six weeks’ notice. This time, it was nine.” 

Grubb said he was never concerned about finding a new position. 

“I knew something was going to come up. I knew I was going to be making some changes. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I had to start thinking about it. I had to explore some options.” 

The end result of that exploration is a new management position at HMS, where he will oversee production of race cars for drivers Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott. That position will require him to travel extensively, accompanying the four HMS teams to the racetrack more weekends than not. He understands that yet again, he will judged on performance, and performance alone. 

“The performance of this entire organization is all about how four cars do on Sunday,” said Grubb. “We’re going to try to put forward whatever it takes to get the best product we can on the racetrack (and) give those four teams the best option they can have to win races.” 

Nothing less will do for an owner as accustomed to success as Rick Hendrick. And as Grubb has learned the hard way in two of the last five years; it’s win, or else.


  1. I think you're right, Moody, about what you said on the radio: There's got to be a personality issue there. "Thanks for all the hard work, you did great things, but it ain't worth the trouble." I'd love to hear the story behind THAT.

  2. Doug M5:26 PM

    2011 was the Championship with Tony, not 2001.

    1. Anonymous8:33 AM

      read it again -Ellen

    2. Brandon in Tn6:23 PM

      It did say 2001. It has been changed since Doug posted.

  3. Like Buffet said..hell it could be my fault

  4. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Grubb has not had the easiest drivers in the world to work with from a personality point of view. Stewart can certainly be a difficult guy and let's face it, after he fired Grubb he hasn't done much since then. The drivers at JGR these days are pretty much dysfunctional divas, too. I'm betting it isn't Grubbs personality that is the problem.

  5. Joseph:
    Hendick knows him well and wanted him back.

  6. Anonymous12:56 AM

    I am with the other posters. JGR hasn't seem to be the most stable of teams from the personal aspect and lack of leadership and the diva drivers can make a sane person nuts. Nope, I am pretty confident, Grubbs was the normal one and they looked at him like he was crazy. Lol.