BY GABRIELLE MCMILLEN
New year, new No. 48 team. After an offseason filled with exciting transitions, most of the No. 88 team was moved to the No. 48 squad, putting Alex Bowman behind the wheel of the legendary Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
The move marks crew chief Greg Ives’ return to the No. 48 after he spent seven seasons with the team as an engineer from 2006-2012. Ives said he’s relying on his teammates to make sure Bowman and the Chevrolet are 100% ready for the DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 14.
“The new team has been growing and we’ve been tailoring it to our needs and to Alex for the last couple of years,” he said. “(Car chief) Austin Konetski, (race engineer) Tim O’Brien, (team engineer) Parker Winebrenner and everyone on the No. 48 team does a great job of getting their tasks, getting them done and if they need any guidance or any clarity with direction, they just come to me and I try to help them out.”
Konetski said there is an excitement with the team after many crew members moved over. Even though the majority of the No. 88 team remained intact during the transition to the No. 48 side, there is still an adjustment period.
“We’re always excited about starting a new season and bringing in new team members,” Konetski said. “When you bring in somebody new, they’ve already accepted the fact that they’re qualified to do the job. So, it’s bringing them up to speed, getting them to work and have good communication with their team members, finding likes and dislikes, and making sure their mental attitude is correct.”
It’s up to Ives to make sure all aspects of the team are working together well before the start o the season. He said crew members are itching to get back to the track by the time the DAYTONA 500 rolls around and they want to get in a groove to shake off any rust accumulated over the offseason.
“You don’t forget what you already know, it’s just getting the practice and the prep and getting everything back to the way it was toward the end of last year,” Ives said. “We had a great playoff run. The guys were syncing really well. It was definitely good.”
Ives expects Bowman and his crew to keep that momentum going heading into 2021. The 27-year-old driver had his best Cup Season in 2020, finishing with a long playoff run that saw him make it to the Round of 8. In the last 12 races of the year, Bowman placed inside the top 10 nine times.
“I feel like Hendrick Motorsports did a great job of preparing awesome cars,” Ives said of their late-season success. “The engine shop stepped up the game, along with the aero department. Obviously, the No. 9 had a great playoff run. We leaned a lot on them and they leaned a lot on us. We pushed each other to be better.”
Ives will be atop the pit box for Bowman’s start in the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.