Tuesday, Jul 05

Why Darian Grubb is More Than a Temporary Fix at HMS

Tuesday, Sep 19 1793

On Monday afternoon, it was announced that crew chief of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports team, Keith Rodden would be replaced with Darian Grubb, who won the 2011 championship with Tony Stewart. Grubb, who was replaced at Stewart-Haas Racing's #14 team with Steve Addington in 2012, had been most recently a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing. After being somewhat blindsided in 2016 when Joe Gibbs Racing announced that they would not be bringing him back as a crew chief, he joined his first team, Hendrick Motorsports, as Vehicle Production Director. Grubb won the 2006 Daytona 500 with Jimmie Johnson after Chad Knaus was serving a suspension. Hendrick Motorsports was the team that gave Darian his spring to success, so it is only fitting that with nine races left in 2017, he will bring his garnered skills back to the team that helped vault him to success.

Grubb will return to the role of crew chief for the final nine races of 2017 to attempt to save Kasey Kahne's playoff chances after a poor showing in Chicagoland. Keith Rodden, who previously served as Kahne's crew chief, has been reassigned within the company. Rodden had worked with Kahne since his days at Evernham, so this is a significant change to make with only nine races left in Kahne's tenure at Hendrick Motorsports. I believe this move to make Grubb crew chief is more than initially meets the eye. Some may say that HMS is just trying to save Kasey Kahne's season, which of course is a part of the reason to make this change, but it can be argued that there is more to this move in regards to the future.

As the future of Hendrick Motorsports was taking shape these last couple months, the fact that Hendrick was holding onto key talent like Grubb or former Kasey Kahne crew chief Kenny Francis perhaps gets overlooked. In 2017, the #5 car will cease to exist at Hendrick Motorsports. That current team will become the #24 team with new driver William Byron, with the current #24 team with Chase Elliott turning into the #9 team. The performance of the #5 car as of late has been sub par, and much worse than the Hendrick team expects its cars to be running consistently. The addition of Grubb to the pit box of the #5 team may be a bigger play for the future, with Hendrick not wanting its winningest number, #24, to be running mid-pack like the #5 car did this year. My prediction from all of this news is that we will see Darian Grubb atop the #24 pit box in 2018 for driver William Byron given the performance of the 5 car improves a bit in these final nine races. Every move Rick Hendrick makes is geared towards the future success of the team he built from scratch, Hendrick Motorsports.

Nick Olsen

Speedway Digest writer, writer of the Across the Stripe blog. From New York, now living in Charlotte. Student at UNC Charlotte studying business. 

 

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