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Dale Earnhardt Jr. voices support of crew chief Greg Ives

Earnhardt Jr. isn't doing as well as fans hoped for in his final full-time season, but he wants everyone to know Greg Ives isn't to blame.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Ives
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Ives

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is winless since 2015 and ranked 22nd in points this season, wants to make one thing clear: Crew chief Greg Ives isn't to blame.

During Saturday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race, in which Earnhardt Jr. finished 23rd, one fan tweeted @DaleJr, "Do we really have to finish with Ives?"

Earnhardt Jr. stood up in defense of his crew chief after the race, replying to the fan, "Yep. Not allowing him to take the fall for this. There are many reasons a team performs poorly. Rarely, is it one persons fault … He is a talent and when he gets things figured out with Alex (Bowman) in 2018 everyone will have forgotten the struggles of 2017.

The 37-year-old Ives has been crew chief for Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet since 2015, and they have three Cup victories together. Before that, he worked as the lead engineer on the No. 48 Hendrick team during Jimmie Johnson's five consecutive NASCAR Cup championships beginning in 2006.

Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring from full-time NASCAR Cup competition at the end of this season, needs a victory at either Darlington or Richmond in the next two weekends to qualify for the NASCAR playoffs.

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