The drop of the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway marked the final small grain of sand falling in the large hourglass of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. With it, Alex Bowman’s team deservedly turned it upside down and started over.
Bowman will get to start over after a year of perceived promise at times that was ultimately plagued by a so-so summer, a trio of crashes to end the season and time away due to one of those crashes.
Crew chief Greg Ives will get to start over after a tough year and 16 other, more-illustrious years on the road.
Ives’ time on the road began with five-straight championships as Jimmie Johnson’s race engineer from 2006 to 2012.
As a crew chief since 2013, he has worked with Bowman, Regan Smith, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Noah Gragson.
No matter who you are, being on the road competing for one of the most elusive motorsports championships in the world – 38 weekends a year for 17 years – leaves you plenty of time to consider what matters most in your life.
For Ives, a father of three, it’s his family.
“My daughter is 10. I was there for her first and that’s the last one I’ve seen,” Ives explained. “My son is racing, my older daughter has a beautiful voice that I’ve missed over the years and it doesn’t seem quite as clear over video calls.”
In August, Ives finally decided it was time to step away from being a full-time crew chief.
“When I talked to Alex before I made the decision, I told him, ‘If I go one more year, I won’t be able to give you everything you need to go win races and a championship and I know somebody who can,’ and that’s me being honest with myself, my family and where I was in my career and life,” Ives explained. “It’s a big decision but I just see how much I miss on a daily basis.”
While Ives has missed a lot at home, he’s been successful at the track.
As Jimmie Johnson’s race engineer, Ives racked up five championship and 42 wins working alongside crew chief Chad Knaus.
As a crew chief, he led drivers to 10 Cup wins and five Xfinity wins. During the 2014 Xfinity season, he also led Chase Elliott to his first NASCAR championship.
Ives was also the crew chief for Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final Cup races. When he was younger, Ives was a Gordon fan and he began his time at Hendrick Motorsports working as a mechanic in the 24 shop.
“I was a fan in those stands at one point and looking down, cheering on my favorite driver Jeff Gordon,” he said, “so to go from a fan to crew chiefing him, especially at Indy, was a pretty special moment.”
While two Cup journeys ended with Ives, Alex Bowman’s journey kickstarted with him. Ives has led Bowman to all seven of his Cup wins – and nearly an eighth win at Phoenix in 2016 while filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt’s concussion woes in 2016 inadvertently helped Bowman secure his future and a deep friendship with Ives. That friendship was valuable for Bowman when concussion symptoms also sidelined him in 2022.
“I’ve been with him every step of the way. I’ve been to [UPMC Concussion Center in] Pittsburgh twice with him for a lot of different appointments and been the chauffeur,” Ives explained. “It means a lot from a friendship standpoint. We’ve built a relationship that withstands anything on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Together, they juggled the uncertainty of Bowman’s ultimate return in week-by-week pieces. As the final three-week piece was announced, Ives and the team drew from previous experience to take on navigating his return.
“It was good once we decided that the pressure and anxiety to get back in the car was postponed. That gave him time to think and just relax. That was the best thing to do for a week was to get back into the normal routine and not have that pressure. That’s everyone [Ally, Chevrolet, the team] allowing that to happen.”
At Phoenix again, Bowman made his anticipated return. A slow start progressed into a top- 15 run in Stage Three, until a crash with Michael McDowell pushed him back to a 34th-place finish, 8 laps down.
Although the result wasn’t what he and Ives hoped for, it wasn’t the end of them working together. For 2023, Ives was moved to a role where Rick Hendrick says “he can be a big asset to Chad Knaus in the shop.”
Now, after 19 years with the team, Ives will help navigate Hendrick Motorsports’ future with his experience and wisdom:
“My whole story is sheer luck and being at the right place and the right time. From a family reunion getting a job as a post-race mechanic to race engineer to crew chiefing, that excitement and those goals that I set for myself are something I can pass on to other people pursuing the same thing or a successful career. Just always put goals in front of yourself and be honest with yourself.”
Most importantly, after 43 years of life, Ives will get to fulfill his biggest aspiration – having more of a valuable presence in his family’s life:
“You only have so many birthdays and you never know when the next one is going to come, so I wanna spend that time next year  and the remaining years with my family.”
In 2023, Blake Harris will serve as Alex Bowman’s crew chief, replacing Ives.