No More Excuses for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Topics: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
May 29, 2009
Apparently finishing 40th in the Coca Cola 600 was the last straw for Rick Hendrick. He simply could not take it any more. Tony Eury, Jr., has been replaced as crew chief of the car of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In making this move, Hendrick also removed Earnhardt’s last excuse.
It was only two years ago that a match made in heaven appeared to have been made. Junior was leaving DEI and its lesser equipment for Hendrick Motorsports and the best equipment in the field. Could championships be far off? Well, yes they could. The marriage has been a disaster. Earnhardt has been marginally competitive at best. The situation is all the worse considering Hendrick booted Kyle Busch to make space for Junior. Busch has merely become the most dominant driver on the circuit, a driver that looks a lot like a certain father of Junior in his driving style.
Junior is the most popular driver in NASCAR. As a result, his fans have had a hard time blaming him for the problems despite the fact he has found it surprisingly hard to find his pit box on numerous occasions. Regardless, the target of their anger has been the crew chief, Tony Eury, Jr. They’ve demanded his firing for more than a year and now they have his scalp. This may, however, be a case of being careful about what you wish for. With Eury out of the way, Junior has no more excuses.
Rick Hendrick is serious about getting the Earnhardt team fixed. This is particularly apparent in who he is bringing in to crew the team. Brian Whitesell will run the team this week before Lance McGrew takes over after that through the season. Both are experienced crew chiefs and both have been with Hendrick for a long time. More importantly, they both are experienced chassis men and intimately familiar with the Hendrick equipment. They should be able to nail setups and make the equipment the equal of the cars of Gordon, Johnson and Martin.
The spotlight has always been on Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Now it is truly blazing. DEI was supposed to be the problem, but it turned out the equipment didn’t seem to matter much. Tony Eury, Jr., was the other problem, but now he is gone. Guess what? The only thing that hasn’t changed is the driver and he no longer has any excuses. It is now or never for Junior, which makes the rest of the season very compelling.
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