How will Greg Ives handle the spotlight as Dale Jr.’s crew chief?

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Within an hour of Hendrick Motorsports’ announcement that Greg Ives (pictured, right) would become the new crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting in next year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup season, he was trending on Twitter in the United States.

That’s the thing about NASCAR’s most popular driver: Whatever happens with him is going to have a big spotlight on it.

And Ives will have to show that he can handle the heat.

This will probably be the biggest test for Ives when he moves over to the No. 88 from his current duties at JR Motorsports shepherding young Nationwide Series phenom Chase Elliott.

As an engineer for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team during its five-year run of Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2010, Ives had to help keep one of the most impressive dynasties in NASCAR history on top, again and again.

And right now, he’s bringing along a young driver that could become one of NASCAR’s biggest faces over the next 10-20 years.

So, Ives is used to pressure. And winning. But what awaits him in 2015 is a different kind of pressure.

While Ives should get along well with Earnhardt as they’re familiar with each other through their work at JRM, Ives will have to deal with an amount of attention that dwarfs anything he’s ever encountered.

All of his decisions – especially the ones that may backfire on the 88 – will be open to nitpicking, dissecting, and second-guessing from an insanely rabid fan base and a media contingent that stretches beyond the racing world because of Earnhardt’s presence.

The level of scrutiny will be far, far, far above what he gets at this point in the Nationwide Series. Even in his current position of guiding a potential future superstar like Elliott, the difference might as well be night and day.

But for Ives, it will be essential to block out all that noise in order to carry out his most important task: Continue the upward trajectory Earnhardt’s been on since last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and help him finally join his late father as a Sprint Cup champion.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.