News & Media

Crew chief Grubb knew he was out of a job

November 21, 2011, Dave Rodman,

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Grubb told prior to October Charlotte race he would be released at end of '11

Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint Cup champion crew chief Darian Grubb, in the afterglow of owner/driver Tony Stewart's title-clinching victory in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway said he's known for six weeks that, with the season's final checkered flag, he was out of a job.

"I'm not really sure what's going to happen now. I was told early-on in the Chase that I wasn't going to be here next year."


But team co-owner Stewart, after telling a story of getting a post-race phone call from his childhood hero, A.J. Foyt, was not as definitive about Grubb's status as the Virginia native said he was led to believe prior to the Oct. 15 Charlotte Motor Speedway round of the championship.

"I know what his status is for the rest of [Sunday] night -- I'm going to get him drunk," Stewart, seated between co-owner Gene Haas and Grubb on the media center stage, said. "There's a lot of things in the offseason and a lot of decisions that have to be made and obviously we wanted to get through this championship first.

"We'll sit down as a group this week and figure out the direction of our program. The good thing is we're sitting up here as champions right now and I don't think that any of us are really too concerned about anything other than having fun [Sunday] night and enjoying the accomplishment we've had over the last 10 weeks."

Grubb, the former Hendrick Motorsports engineer who joined Stewart-Haas Racing three years ago as crew chief when Stewart became co-owner with businessman and race team owner Haas, said he was having a hard time comprehending the news he was given before Stewart and their team won three of the final six Chase for the Sprint Cup races, and five overall.

"It still is [baffling] to me, obviously," Grubb said 10 or 15 minutes before Stewart reached the room. "I'm not really sure what's going to happen now. I was told early-on in the Chase, before Charlotte, that I wasn't going to be here next year.

"So we just kept fighting and doing everything we had to do every week. It didn't change anything of what the outcome was going to be. We fought as if we were going to fight to win this championship, and we did it. Now we'll just see in this coming week how things change."

Winning his way

Tony Stewart's fifth Chase victory made him a three-time Cup Series champ. Smoke needed every one as he and Carl Edwards finished in a dead heat and Stewart won on the tiebreaker.

Stewart's average finish in the Chase was 6.3. After winning the first two races in the Chase -- which broke a 33-race losing streak -- Stewart finished 25th at Dover and 15th at Kansas and he was seventh in the Chase. And Grubb was given the news.

"I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people," Grubb said of the immediate aftermath. "Telling them to please give me the courtesy of waiting until [Sunday] night to see what we could accomplish. Now that we've done that, I guess we'll start talking, but we'll do a little celebrating, first."

From the point Grubb was informed of the decision, the team finished eighth at Charlotte, seventh at Talladega and then won three of the final four races, sandwiched around a third-place at Phoenix. Grubb said his uncertain future might have actually helped, not hurt the effort.

"Honestly, it probably made the guys rally around a little more," Grubb said. "Just because we all felt like we were a team to beat, and we wanted to prove that -- so we just did it. Everybody went out there and just kept doing their jobs, kept their heads up and didn't let it drag anybody down.

"We may have even gotten closer, as a team after that because we had a couple excursions as a team after that where we went out, as a team and had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it."

Even with all that, Grubb's unsure of the future, only saying "it depends" what can be determined in discussions this week.

"Originally, I always wanted to stay within the organization," Grubb said. "That was the reason I came here; was to build something special and I think we've done that. We've made the Chase all three years and we had a shot at winning the championship all three years.

"And now this year, to be able to pull it off -- we've accomplished our goals -- and that's what we wanted to do. As far as a timeline [to make a decision] I'll let you know later. We're going to plan to celebrate, talk [and] see what happens from there."