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And he understands that letting Grubb go can come back to bite him during this Chase.

“You obviously know that if you make a change like that, that that guy can go out and beat you,” Stewart said.

After a lunch meeting with Grubb, Hamlin was convinced that the crew chief had enough fire to lead his team for several years. And of all the jobs being offered _ including a management position at Hendrick Motorsports, where Grubb had been before joining Stewart _ he thought Hamlin was the best fit.

“He assured me that he felt like I would give him his best chance at winning a championship, and he had something to prove,” Hamlin said. “He wanted to win another championship. He just didn’t want to go out the way things ended.”