Rich Hendrick said for weeks that Tony Eury Jr. would not be replaced atop his cousin’s pit box. So it was only a matter of time before a change was made. That change happened this morning.
Eury will be replaced as the crew chief of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 2003 Nationwide Series champion crew chief Lance McGrew. McGrew has been a successful crew chief in both the Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup Series, helping Brian Vickers win his first career Cup race at Talladega in 2006.
While McGrew should help things in the 88 camp, the change does not guarantee success by any means. And while getting rid of Eury may not have been a bad idea, Junior Nation often forgets that, if not for Eury, Earnhardt’s last win would not have been at Michigan last year, when Eury’s call atop the pit box to stretch fuel mileage earned Earnhardt his first win with Hendrick Motorsports. Nor would he have won at Richmond in 2006, when Eury’s call to take 2 tires instead of 4 put Earnhardt in the lead for good late in the race. Without Eury, Earnhardt’s last win would have come in 2005, which he also won on pit strategy.
That said, 2 races in 3 years won’t cut it. You can’t blame the 88 team. When things aren’t going well, often times the crew chief is the first person to go. McGrew is a proven crew chief, and should do a good job.
However, sometimes the driver is the first person to go. And if Earnhardt doesn’t pick up his performance with McGrew calling the shots, he may be out the door. We do know for sure, however, that McGrew will be calling the shots, as opposed to Earnhardt, who, more often than not, told Eury what he should be doing in stead of letting Eury do his job. But since McGrew is not a blood-reletive of Earnhardt, I doubt Earnhardt will talk to McGrew like that.
The change atop the pit box may help Earnhardt’s results. But if it doesn’t, Earnhardt may be the next to go.