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Darian Grubb returning to Hendrick

AAA Texas 500

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 02: Crew chief for Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, Darian Grubb looks on during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Todd Warshaw

After nearly a decade as a Sprint Cup crew chief, Darian Grubb is leaving the pit box but returning to a familiar location: Hendrick Motorsports.

The team announced Monday afternoon that Grubb will rejoin Hendrick as a vehicle production director who will oversee the organization’s race car manufacturing in a newly created role.

He will oversee production operations in Hendrick’s chassis and body groups alongside vehicle technical director Kenny Francis to “grow the company’s overall car development capabilities while collaborating across vehicle engineering, vehicle production and four Sprint Cup teams,” according to a team release. Grubb and Francis will report to general manager Doug Duchardt.

“It means a lot to come back to Hendrick Motorsports,” Grubb said in a release. “This is a role that will allow me to contribute to the success of the entire organization, which was very important to me. Kenny is someone I greatly respect, so the chance to work side by side with him was a big factor. Everything is familiar, and I think that will make for a smooth transition. The more we talked about the opportunity, the more it felt right. I’m ready to get started.”

During his first stint at Hendrick, Grubb guided Jimmie Johnson to the 2006 Daytona 500 in his crew chief debut, substituting four races for Chad Knaus, who was on suspension, as the leader of the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Grubb guided Casey Mears to a win in 2007 before moving into an engineering position. He left to become Tony Stewart’s crew chief in 2009, and the pair won the 2011 championship. Grubb joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012, working with Denny Hamlin for three seasons and Carl Edwards in 2015. He has 23 wins as a Sprint Cup crew chief.

“We’re excited to welcome Darian back to Hendrick Motorsports,” Duchardt said. “His resume speaks for itself, and he already has a deep understanding of our people, processes and culture. Teaming him with Kenny on our vehicle efforts mirrors the management structure of our engine operation, which has been very effective, and it adds more depth to the organization as a whole. Darian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we know he will make us stronger.”

Grubb began his NASCAR career at Petty Enterprises after the Floyd, Va., native graduated from Virginia Tech with a mechanical engineering degree. Grubb was the lead engineer for Johnson’s No. 48 team from 2003-06.