Could you imagine continuing to work in a place where you were told you wouldn’t be coming back? Imagine learning this right in the middle of trying to attain the pinnacle. Could you keep soldiering on, or would you tell the boss to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine? To do the latter is understandable; to do the former is noble.
Championship crew chief Darian Grubb is a prince of a man for his professionalism at Stewart Haas Racing. Getting word at Charlotte that he would not be returning to his current position as Tony Stewart’s crew chief in 2012, Grubb kept on keeping on like an executive in line for a lucrative bonus. Shaking off the shock, the pit boss who gained fame for crew chiefing Jimmie Johnson to a 2006 Daytona 500 win (while subbing for the suspended Chad Knaus), labored side by side with Stewart in one of the most unlikely runs NASCAR has ever seen.
“Originally I always wanted to stay within the organization. That’s the reason I came here was to help build something special. I think we have done that,” Grubb explaining his motivation. “Everybody went out there and kept doing their jobs, kept their head up and didn’t crack anybody down. We may have even gotten closer as a team after that.”
The determination and the willingness to stick it out has earned Grubb a place in NASCAR history, alongside names like Suitcase Jake Elder, Dale Inman and Ray Evernham- to name a few. It goes without saying there’s more than a couple of teams looking for a man with his mettle. Even against a backdrop of some economic uncertainty in the sport, Grubb has options. One may even be the possibility of a reconsideration by SHR.
No doubt a driver the caliber of Tony Stewart knows better than most what his game plan to reach Victory Lane is going to be. It’s not like a crew chief has to hold his hand. With that said, it takes a unique breed of cat to partner with a driver of Stewart’s temperament and make it work. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride, sublimate your ego and go with it. Though there’s intimations that things got understandably strained during a winless spring and summer, the pairing held and you certainly never heard the driver throwing his crew chief under the bus through it all. There’s no question there’s a mutual respect between the two.
Ego has ruined a good many careers. Darian Grubb didn’t let his undermine an epic run. The question may now be one of whether or not Tony Stewart and the powers that be at Stewart Haas will re-think their original intentions.
Regardless of the outcome, Darian Grubb became a part of something special and he showed his young son (who was present with him at race’s end) what manning up is all about. In a championship run that possessed several great story lines, Darian Grubb’s may very well be one of the most compelling.
Hail to the crew chief.
Other articles by Jim McCoy include: