Darian Grubb has secured a new crew chief role with another top organisation, with the announcement that he will be taking over the running of the #11 team at Joe Gibbs Racing, working with driver Denny Hamlin.
“I'm thrilled to join Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Grubb, adding: “The chance to work with Denny is something I'm excited about."
Grubb was fired by his former boss, team owner/driver Tony Stewart, in the middle of the Chase - before then going on to help steer Stewart to the 2011 Sprint Cup championship. Stewart has since announced that Steve Addington - Kurt Busch's former crew chief on the #22 - will be in charge of Stewart's #14 team for the defence of their title in 2012.
For Grubb, it will be his first major role outside of the Hendrick Motorsports family of teams. Rick Hendrick had said that he had been keen to have Grubb return to the fold in an engineering or management capacity, but that he had no crew chief slots available for him. Grubb has clearly decided that he's not done with the cut and thrust of helming a car crew just yet.
"Obviously, he has proven the ability to guide a team to a championship," said his new boss, team owner Joe Gibbs. "We are excited to have him working with Denny toward achieving that goal here at Joe Gibbs Racing."
Grubb, 36, clearly felt that he had landed on his feet with his new team. "When you sit down with Joe and JD Gibbs you can't help but be excited about this opportunity and the team aspects of JGR," he said. "There is no question about the level of support you get here and I'm looking forward to working with everyone across the entire organization."
JGR had announced on Tuesday that Hamlin's former crew chief, Mike Ford, was being released by the team after a disappointing and lacklustre season for the driver. Despite making the Chase play-offs, Hamlin was never a factor in the title battle as he was in 2010 when he led Jimmie Johnson in the points going into the final race of the season. This year by contrast Hamlin was able to claim only one race win, at Michigan in the summer.
The decision to shake things up in the #11 camp and release Ford earlier in the week had not been a surprise, although nor had it been a foregone conclusion. "I'm kind of relieved," Ford was quoted as saying by the Associated Press
wire service. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution."
"Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our No. 11 team," Gibbs himself said in a press release on Tuesday. "We've decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities."
Ford suggested that his “no compromise” attitude to his role had contributed to his exit from JGR. “I can be very brash," he admitted. "You step on toes along the way. Some of it is very deliberate. It's not popular throughout a shop where you have to have harmony. It basically comes down to I didn't get along well with certain individuals."