After Redemption at Chicago, Legendary Crew Chief Doesn’t Bite His Tongue Despite the Tony Stewart Heartbreak in 2011

Published 07/05/2023, 2:10 PM EDT

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With the curtains finally falling on NASCAR’s ambitious Chicago Street race, the community saw the good, the bad, and the ugly side of racing on a rain-soaked city lane. And with the 3-time Supercars champion taking home the victory, steamrolling his fellow Cup drivers, racing fans acknowledged the seasoned veteran behind the scene that guided Shane Van Gisbergen to victory.

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Following the epic win at the much-anticipated event, a recent interview with WFXR Sports Director Jermaine Ferrell revealed how the former HMS, SHR, and JGR team member did what he did to get the historic win at Chicago. Speaking to Ferrell, Darian Grubb, the seasoned crew chief who led the #91 team, revealed how his experience working with Tony Stewart and Hendrick Motorsports shaped him to be the man he is today.

Darian Grubb Talks About His Experience Working With Tony Stewart Despite the Tragic Ending

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Shane Van Gisbergen’s win at NASCAR’s first-ever Street course is indeed a historic moment for Trackhouse Racing. With the Chicago win, the Chevy-partnered team now has 2 back-to-back wins coming off of Ross Chastain‘s stellar win at Nashville last week and the Kiwi’s blistering run in the Windy City.

Despite being fired from Stewart-Haas Racing in 2011 just hours after Tony Stewart won his 2011 championship title, Grubb doesn’t let the past get the best of him. In fact, he credited Stewart and his time at SHR. Though the champion crew was replaced by Steve Addington, making an awkward mess for both Grubb and the fans, Stewart openly stated the situation in the team.

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As per ESPN, he said, “Trust me, there (are) no major flaws with Darian, but there were variables that we felt like we needed to change and we stuck with that.” From there on, the tech graduate joined the HMS camp as a technical director (2016-2020), even working as William Byron’s crew chief in 2018. More recently, he worked as Joe Gibbs Racing’s crew chief for Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

From leading Jimmie Johnson to victory in 2006 at the iconic Daytona 500 to leading this generation’s road racing prodigy Byron, Grubb certainly has a ton of experience working with different teams starting from a mechanic, and technical director to being the Director of performance for Trackhouse Racing today.

When asked about his learnings from different teams, Grubb said, Every place has really been different, I’ve been extremely lucky and blessed to be able to work with some really talented people all along my career mostly what it tells me is I’m old,” the 47-year-old added.

I’ve been around the block, been through a lot of different places but working with guys like Tony Stewart, Mr. Rick Hendrick all these drivers that we’re able to work with as partners and taking leadership skills from Jimmie Johnson, coach Joe Gibbs, Mr. Hendricks, Tony Stewart,”

Even while he’s on top of the world with SVG’s ecstatic win, the humble guy said, I’ve had a pretty good teaching career through my career that’s able to command and they will be with Trackhouse now with the new vision that Just Marks has of what he’s put together like the Project 91 program, it just keeps it exciting and you’re always learning, you’re always trying to better yourself and I’ve had some really good teachers.” Taking nothing for granted, the 47-year-old credits his time with the greats and his invaluable experience being a major factor in the #91 team’s victory. 

The Director of Performance also stated his thoughts following Gisbergen’s win despite the weather taking its toll on the course.

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Grubb Shares His Thoughts About SVG’s Stellar Win at the Rain-Soaked Track

Despite the widespread criticism of shortening the race by a drastic 25 laps, Project 91 and Shane Van Gisbergen are indeed basking in Grubb’s glory. Outshining the Cup drivers to take the win off them in their own backyard is certainly no simple task, especially when you are inexperienced racing on the wet.

But with an exceptional crew led by Grubb, backing the Kiwi, SVG got the confidence to go all out, putting out a blistering pace. With the Supercar champion winning it in Chicago, Grubb did not hesitate to share his thoughts, he said, “Being able to go to a place like Chicago for such an historical event for something that is brand new and new to NASCAR and new to the city and new to street courses and to pull off a win with a first-time race event for Shane Van Gisbergen to come over to the Supercars in Australia it is a day of many firsts.”

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WATCH THIS STORY: Martin Truex Jr blamed Denny Hamlin for losing to Ross Chastain on the radio

Pushing through the adverse weather, he concluded his words by saying, “It can’t get much better considering we dealt with a lot of weather and adversity with the weather and everything else.”

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Written by:

Kishore R

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Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in engineering, Kishore's love for automobiles, particularly the roaring naturally-aspirated V8s, naturally led him to NASCAR. Kishore's writing is characterized by his intense passion for the sport, as well as his ability to conduct in-depth research and analysis.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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