Sources: Hendrick manager gets offer to be Stewart crew chief

Updated: September 5, 2008, 10:55 AM ET
By Marty Smith | ESPN.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Darian Grubb, engineering manager for Hendrick Motorsports' Nos. 5 and 88 Chevrolets, is the lead candidate for the crew chief position for Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet in 2009, sources close to Stewart-Haas Racing told ESPN.com on Saturday.

Grubb, those same sources said, has been offered a contract.

Stewart-Haas officials declined to comment Saturday.

Meanwhile, Grubb, working feverishly to prepare data for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 prior to Happy Hour practice at Michigan International Speedway, neither confirmed nor denied the speculation. Instead, he was focused on the present.

"I'm not thinking about that right now," Grubb said. "I'm very happy at Hendrick [Motorsports], and my thoughts right now are focused fully toward HMS winning its third championship in a row, among any of our three [contending] teams."

If Grubb ultimately opts to accept Stewart-Haas' offer, it would add yet another layer to the Hendrick/Stewart-Haas relationship. SHR will run Hendrick chassis and engines -- as Haas/CNC Racing currently does -- and having an established Hendrick disciple in-house would only increase the crucial line of communication between the two organizations.

Grubb has been an all-star utility man for Hendrick. As lead engineer for Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 team in 2006, Grubb was summoned to sit in for suspended crew chief Chad Knaus for the season's first four races.

During that span, he led the team to two victories -- including the Daytona 500.

Then, at the outset of 2007, Grubb was appointed to direct Casey Mears' No. 25 team, leading Mears to victory in the Coca-Cola 600 by way of a pit call to stay out and test fuel mileage. The Memorial Day Weekend victory is the lone win of Mears' career.

But at season's end, in the wake of HMS' hiring of Earnhardt to drive the No. 88, Grubb moved back to lead engineer to make way for Tony Eury Jr. at the crew chief position.

Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.