Friday, May 29, 2009

#88 Team No Longer All In The Family

Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes to the track earlier in the season behind the wheel of his Hendrick Motorsports #88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt will have a new crew chief atop his pit box this Sunday at Dover, as former head wrench Tony Eury Jr. has been replaced. (Photo courtesy of Jayski.com)

What was expected to be a move that defined the career of Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been anything but defining, as the most popular driver in NASCAR has just one win in 48 races with Hendrick Motorsports, not counting last year's Budweiser Shootout; not to mention he has still not won a series championship. This week, car owner Rick Hendrick attempted to rectify the problem by making wholesale changes in the pit crew on the 88 team, replacing crew chief Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt's cousin who had worked with him since his days at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Brian Whitesell, a former member of Jeff Gordon's crew who is now acting as Earnhardt's team manager, will be atop the pit box this Sunday at Dover. Lance McGrew will eventually become Eury's permanent replacement, with his first race being next Sunday at Pocono Raceway. McGrew was the crew chief for former Hendrick driver Brian Vickers when he won the 2003 Nationwide Series championship at just 20 years of age, and was also the crew chief when Vickers won his lone Sprint Cup race in October of 2006 at Talladega.

Earnhardt Jr. is currently 19th in points, and is 203 behind teammate Mark Martin, who sits in 12th. The top twelve drivers in the standings make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins at New Hampshire on September 20th.

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