Thursday, May 28, 2009
Brian Whitesell is the team manager for both Mark Martin's #5 and Earnhardt's #88 teams. He got into NASCAR by volunteering for Alan Kulwicki's team in 1992, and was a part of that championship run. Soon afterward, he got a gig with Hendrick, and worked closely with Jeff Gordon's team. He served as interim crew chief for Gordon in 1999 after Ray Evernham left, and the team won two of seven races. He will serve as Dale Jr's crew chief for the race this weekend at Dover.
Lance McGrew won the 2003 Nationwide championship with Brian Vickers, and also led Vickers to a Sprint Cup victory at Talladega in October 2006. As a crew chief, he's won in all three series, guiding Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Ricky Hendrick to victory lane. He was the guy in the box when Tony Stewart won the Nationwide race this past February at Daytona. (Lance will begin his role as interim crew chief at Pocono Raceway)
Rex Stump is the man behind Jeff Gordons T-Rex car. He is the Lead Chassis Engineer for Hendrick and along with Brian, has been assigned to support Lance on a full-time basis.
Tom Stewart is the 88 team engineer and along with Brian, will sit in the pit box with Lance and assist him with race strategy.
Rick is pulling out all the stops for the 88 team and after reading how he plans to do that, I am personally excited to see what happens over the next few weeks. I know Dale Jr didn't want this time to come so soon, but it's time to step it up and take what Rick is giving him. This is Dale Jr's time to turn this first part of the season around, and get himself back in the race to the chase. Let's hope this major change does exactly that!
Eury Jr. out as crew chief for slumping Earnhardt
For Earnhardt and Eury, change an inevitable result
This next one is what is keeping this whole crew chief change thing a positive thing for me and hope it will do the same for you after you read it.
New crew chief eyes full review
This are the few pictures that were taken when Dale met with reporters in Detroit today.
By The Associated PressMay 28, 200911:45 AM EDT
type size: + -
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a new crew chief starting with this weekend's race at Dover.
The team said Thursday that Tony Eury Jr. was replaced as crew chief of Earnhardt's No. 88 team.
They left Dale Earnhardt Inc. last season to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, but they've yet to find consistency despite driving for NASCAR's top team.
"Our performance hasn't been where it should be," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's impossible to pin that on any one factor, but a change is the right decision at this point. We have a plan in place, and we're going to move forward with it."
They have one win in 48 races with Hendrick and are 19th in points. They hit rock bottom with Monday's 40th-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Team manager Brian Whitesell will be the crew chief this weekend. Lance McGrew will take over next week on an interim basis as team owner Rick Hendrick figures out a long-term plan for NASCAR's most popular driver.
"We're going to put our full resources toward improving the situation and winning races," Hendrick said. "It's going to be a collective effort that includes all of our drivers, all of our crew chiefs and all of our engineers. Everyone in our company will be involved on some level."
As a crew chief, McGrew has posted victories in all three of NASCAR's major touring series. He has won races with drivers Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Hendrick, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., McGrew has experience working with Earnhardt. Last season, the pair ran three Nationwide Series races, posting two top-10s and a 15th-place finish.
After Monday's rain-shortened race, Hendrick's commitment to the pair had clearly waned. Following months of steadfast support, he was noncommittal about Eury's future with Earnhardt.
Earnhardt and Eury spent Tuesday and Wednesday testing on the road course at Virginia International Raceway. Hendrick told them he was splitting the pair upon their return.
"I have mixed feelings, and that's just natural," Eury said. "But I enjoy working at Hendrick Motorsports, and this is where I want to be. I'll do whatever I can to help all of our teams and try to be a part of another championship. I think a new challenge will be good."
Whatever route Hendrick takes, he's giving Earnhardt the full-time use of Whitesell and Rex Stump, the lead chassis engineer.
"Tony and I talked through this [Wednesday] night," Hendrick said. "I want him here, he wants to be here, and he's going to be a big contributor to our future success. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for the job he's done and for the caliber of person that he is."
Earnhardt and Eury -- first cousins and the grandsons of Robert Gee, one of Hendrick's first employees -- have worked together in some capacity for Earnhardt's entire career. The two went through a rough patch that led to constant bickering at the end of the 2004 season when they raced for the championship at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Earnhardt's stepmother, Teresa, separated them at the start of 2005, a move that led Earnhardt to finish a career-worst 19th in the standings. They were back together before the end of the season, but won just one race together in '06 as Earnhardt's relationship with his stepmother rapidly deteriorated.
The next year, Earnhardt wrestled with the decision to leave DEI, then embarked on one of the most high-profile free agencies in NASCAR history. He settled on Hendrick Motorsports, and Eury went with him.
Although they opened their first season at Hendrick by winning the exhibition Budweiser Shootout and a Daytona 500 qualifying race, Earnhardt didn't win a points race until the 15th event of the year. That was at Michigan, his only victory all season.
Still, consistency put him at the top of the title contenders when the Chase for the championship began. But Eury and Earnhardt moved away from what got them into the Chase and finished last in the 12-driver field.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Broke ground: 1967
Circuit Length: 1 mi
Banking: Turns: 24°
Dover is unique in many ways. It is exactly one mile long; technically this means that it is neither a superspeedway nor a short track. The speedway surface is concrete; most NASCAR track surfaces are asphalt. The concrete surface is notoriously hard on cars and especially tires, bringing about its nickname of The Monster Mile.
Hendrick mum on future of Earnhardt's crew chief
Leaves open possibility of No. 88 changes before Dover
Although Hendrick said no personnel changes have been made on Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet, he declined to give Eury a vote of confidence a day after NASCAR's most popular driver was 40th in the Coca-Cola 600, his worst finish of the season.
Hendrick left open the possibility that Earnhardt could have a new crew chief this weekend in Dover, Del.
"Could it change?" Hendrick said following the sport's town hall meeting. "We're talking about things. We're meeting. We're going to make decisions as the days go by. But we haven't made any decision as of right now."
Earnhardt ran near the back of the pack Monday and was two laps down in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600, his worst showing since last season's finale in Homestead, Fla.
Earnhardt wasn't involved in a wreck and didn't have mechanical problems at Lowe's Motor Speedway. His car handled poorly all afternoon.
When the race was over, Earnhardt was left with his third consecutive finish outside the top 25. He's also been 20th or worse five times in the last six Sprint Cup events.
"We just missed a setup," Hendrick said. "I can't explain why because basically we're the same, all four cars. They all fought a lot of the same problems early on. Probably as a group, we were off. We've been better at Charlotte than we were [Monday]. I was disappointed; our teams were disappointed. We've got to go back and look at what we did.
"We just never could get [Earnhardt's] car adjusted back."
His teammates did.
Jimmie Johnson ran up front all day, but wound up 13th because of the final red-flag situation. Jeff Gordon finished 14th in what he called a "horrendous" car, and Mark Martin was three spots back after falling way behind because of a pit-road violation.
Earnhardt, who was testing on the road course at Virginia International Raceway on Tuesday and unavailable for comment, was way back all day. He's been in that position often in the last 11 months.
Earnhardt joined Hendrick before the 2008 season in what was arguably the biggest free-agent move in NASCAR history, and many believed getting the sport's most popular driver in the sport's best equipment would land Junior in Victory Lane early and often.
It hasn't happened.
He won once last season, at Michigan in June, but has been mostly mediocre in the 33 races since. He's finished outside the top 20 a telling 14 times during that stretch.
Some believe the problems have started to get in Earnhardt's head. Hendrick has said he was looking for new ways to get the team turned around. He said there had been several meetings and tons of information sharing with his other teams in hopes of finding some solutions.
But he's strongly backed Eury the whole way, insisting that Earnhardt's cousin and longtime crew chief is the right man for the job.
Hendrick was asked specifically if Eury would be atop the pit box at Dover, but for the first time, did not give a firm confirmation.
"We're always concerned when we have a car that doesn't run well," Hendrick said. "We're always meeting and trying to figure what to do and how to make it better. That's just an ongoing situation. We've got to come up with a plan and we've got to work toward it."
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
(All info taken from wikipedia.org)
Along with the main oval, the speedway also has a 2.25-mile (3.62 km) road course in the infield, a 0.6-mile (0.97 km) kart course in the infield, a quarter-mile oval using part of the front stretch and pit road, and an 0.2-mile (0.32 km) oval outside turn three. Also, across U.S. Highway 29 from the speedway, is a 0.4-mile (0.64 km) dirt track that opened in May 2000. The 0.25-mile (0.40 km) oval located between the frontstretch and pit road was constructed in 1991 for a legends race which was part of the Winston weekend. It was designed after Bowman-Gray Stadium.
In 2005, the surface of the circuit had started to wear from its last paving in mid-1994, resulting in the track's treatment in a diamond-grinding process to smooth out bumps. This process, known as levigation, caused major tire problems during both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) events there, with a record 22 cautions at the showcase Coca-Cola 600, which is considered one of the top five annual NASCAR races. It was the first Sprint Cup Series event to go more than five hours (excluding red flags) in 25 years. Speed increases were also a result of the levigation. After the problem with the tires, the speedway was repaved in 2006.
Friday, May 15, 2009
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Sidelined the past several weeks by a fast-spreading sinus infection, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick plans to return to the track this weekend after a five-race absence.
Hendrick has not been to the track since Jimmie Johnson helped his boss celebrate his 25th anniversary in NASCAR with a March 29th victory at Martinsville. He skipped the next two events, races in Texas and Phoenix, for personal and business reasons.
Then he was stricken with a sinus infection that spread to both his chest and ears, keeping him away from the track another three races. He needed tubes inserted in both ears to fight the infection.
"They say the tubes are for kids, so I guess I'm a 59-year-old kid with ear infections," he said Tuesday. "I've got a weak immune system, and this infection just jumped on me. I was a sick puppy there for about three weeks. But I am much better, feeling more like myself."
Hendrick's immune system was weakened by a long, but successful, fight with leukemia 12 years ago.
"If I am not careful, I get knocked on my butt," said Hendrick, who spent more than four hours with employees Tuesday passing out the championship rings from Johnson's third title.
Gordon ended a 47-race winless streak, the longest of his career, with his Texas win. Martin's Phoenix victory was his first win since 2005, and his first since joining Hendrick Motorsports at the start of this season.
Hendrick watched all the races he missed on TV, admittedly screaming at his set and often second-guessing strategy through text messages to team vice president Doug Duchardt. He then called his drivers in Victory Lane, a scene often caught on live television that drew attention to his absence.
"It just gets to me not being there. I want to be there with the guys, and I hate that I missed the celebration with Mark and Jeff," he said. "There were a couple of times I didn't feel like watching the race at all, and I am sure there were times when Doug Duchardt was wishing I wasn't watching. I was driving him crazy with all the texting."
Hendrick said he'll ease back into at-track activities with the All-Star race this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he traditionally celebrates Charlotte Speedweeks by treating employees from both his motorsports and automotive programs to weekends at the track.
"I'm going to be over there, but I'm going to try to take it easy," he said. "I've learned with my immune system that when I push to go back [to work], I get in trouble."
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Sources within Hendrick Motorsports confirmed to Captain Thunder that discussions were held over the Easter break regarding the possible switching of crew chiefs between the #5 and #88 teams. Mark Martin's crew chief Alan Gustafson was said to be on the block and was willing to move to the #88 team and Martin was willing to support the move. The discussions over Easter ended with an agreement between the two teams and Mr. Hendrick to keep their current teams in tact for at least three more weeks to see if both teams could improve on the slow start they have endured through the first part of the 2009 Sprint Cup season. Sources said Tony Eury Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin, and Gustafson all agreed that if Mr. Hendrick wanted a change, they would be willing to swap Gustafson for Eury Jr. However, with Martin's win Saturday night in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix, any switch is now out of the question for the foreseeable future. Hendrick and Martin have no desire to take Gustafson away from the #5 team after the way they dominated the Phoenix race. Now, the timetable is set for the All-Star race at Charlotte on May 16th. If both teams continue to perform poorly, expect a change the week of the All-Star race. However, if Martin's team continues to gain momentum following their Phoenix win, and the #88 team continues to struggle, sources said Eury Jr. could be replaced by car chiefs Ron Malec of the #48 team or Jason Burdett of the #24 team.
(CaptainThunderRacing.com and reported on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show by Capt Thunder)(4-22-2009)
Sunday, May 10, 2009
On to my second rant topic. I love being a fan of Dale Jr and being a member of Jr Nation, which is the reason this blog has been kept up for so long. Some of you might like what I have to say here, some of you may not, that's a matter of personal opinion, which leads me to say this: This is my blog and I will voice my opinion when I feel I have something that needs to be said. Having said that, is it just me or does Dale Jr seem to be getting the short end of the stick again? I mean, Jimmie Jeff Mark and Brad (when he runs in the 25) all do very well and usually (unless they're having a very rare bad race day) finish in the top 10 if not top 20. For the past two weeks Dale Jr has finished 27th and has remained 18th in the points. So what gives? I'm the type of person that refuses to blame one person for the downfall of any team. I do listen to Dale Jr's scanner during the races, and although it is delayed, you do get a complete understanding of what the driver is telling his crew chief. I bring that up because I have heard hints of how Mark Martin talks to his crew chief in Dale Jr lately. Rather than just telling his crew chief what the car is doing and what's wrong with it, Mark tells him what he wants done to the car. Over the past two weeks I have heard Dale Jr either suggesting or telling Tony Jr what he feels needs to be done to the car to make it better. Good for him! What I haven't heard a lot of, and they probably do this and we don't know it, is the fact that they haven't been sharing information between teams. Hello?! Hendrick has four teams (five when Brad drives), the drivers that are doing better need to be sharing their info with the 88 team. You've heard the saying, "There's no "I" in the word "team." Well that applies here as well. Also, Junior (if he isn't already) needs to get his butt in that garage at Hendrick Motorsports with Tony Jr, and know what's going on with his car for that weekend. He won't know anything about his car if he's not there to hear it and offer his opinion on it. I'm not saying Little E should be breathing down Tony Jr's neck, but he should have some input on what he would like to have done to the car going into the weekend. Tony Jr is only one person and can only do so much. He's not driving the car, Dale Jr is and the only way that the car is going to do what Dale Jr wants it to do is if he's there during the week. (Even if it's once a week or whatever) Another thing that would help (if their not doing it already) would be if Dale Jr would meet with Rick, Tony Jr and/or the whole team at least once or twice a week. Figure out what is and isn't working. What's working, keep it, what's not working, toss it and be done with it. Finally, when race weekend comes, focus on the task at hand, which would be, the race of course. So to close this long rant which I really meant to be short, I do have a few things to say to those people who feel that Rick needs to get another crew chief for Dale Jr. #1 Did you really think that thought when Dale Jr won at Michigan last year? #2 (And I know I've said this before) Do you honestly think that Rick would have kept Tony Jr as Junebug's crew chief for this long if he didn't think Tony Jr was doing a good job? and #3 Any real fan of Dale Jr would stand up for Tony Jr any day of the week, as would any other fan of any other driver, and if you're not one of them, then I'm sorry to say, you're not a true Dale Jr fan.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
I love this one! (I love all of them, but this is a really cool one!) Notice the "M" to the right side of the 88 on the side? I watched NASCAR Raceday and Hermie Sadler had Junebug explain what "88M" means. Dale Jr said that it's program started by the National Guard that will not only help those interested earn their CDL license, but will then help them get a job with a reputable company.
For the All-Star Race this year:
Dale Jr will be driving a scheme that features the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Foundation as the primary sponsor. The car features a very simple paint scheme, free of any striping or accents and stripes. The hood features the logo of the Dale Jr. Foundation. The Mountain Dew logo remains in its proper spot and the National Guard logo appears just below on the rear quarter panels.
Dale Jr will be driving another special paint scheme for Mountain Dew next week.
This is a great looking car. The base color is black with complimentary Mountain Dew colors and a silver accent down the sides. The Mountain Dew brand always lends itself to great looking race cars. This one is particularly nice as it is always fun to see an Earnhardt on the track in a black race car.
I'm not too crazy about this next one because it pretty much looks the same as the car from the 4th of July from last year, except that the top part is all black.
At the July Daytona race, Dale Jr. will have special colors on his car for the National Guard. This car will feature another black hood with a special camo pattern down the sides. This special paint scheme will be a great tribute to the National Guard as the Daytona race will be run on the 4th of July.
(Thanks to racingdesignblog.com for the pictures and info.)