Hendrick Motorsports Announces 2008 Personnel Moves
CONCORD, N.C. - Casey Mears will drive the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolets for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, joining a team that secured its second consecutive Chase for the Championship berth Sunday at California Speedway.
In his first season with Hendrick Motorsports, Mears has notched one victory, a pole position, four top-five finishes and six top-10s through 25 races. The Bakersfield, Calif., native will complete the current schedule in the organization's No. 25 Chevrolets before transitioning to the Kellogg's/CARQUEST team.
The effort will be led by Alan Gustafson, 32, who has earned four wins, two poles, 25 top-five finishes and 45 top-10s since his first season as crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolets in 2005. Only five Cup Series teams have posted more top-10 finishes during that span.
"My goal is to meet the high standard the drivers before me helped established with the No. 5 Chevrolet, both on and off the track," said the 29-year-old Mears. "I'm looking forward to working with Alan and the team to continue the winning tradition for Kellogg's, CARQUEST and Hendrick Motorsports."
Since its inception in 1984, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team has posted 27 victories and 35 pole positions with just four different drivers -- Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte and Kyle Busch. It has finished among the top 12 in Cup points in 17 of the past 23 seasons (1984-2006), including a championship in 1996.
"The No. 5 was our first car (at Hendrick Motorsports), so, for me, there's a lot of personal history in that team," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Casey has proven capable of winning and running up front, which is what the No. 5 has always been about. The goal is more victory lanes and championships for the team, and for Kellogg's and CARQUEST."
The relationship between Kellogg Co. and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team is one of the most enduring in NASCAR. Kellogg's debuted as primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevys in 1994 and has since earned a Cup Series title, 16 race wins, 89 top-five finishes and 170 top-10s.
In 2002, CARQUEST Auto Parts joined Hendrick Motorsports as an associate sponsor of the cars driven by Ricky Hendrick in the NASCAR Busch Series. The relationship transitioned into a Cup-level associate sponsorship in 2004 and grew into the co-primary sponsorship with Kellogg's this season.
When driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins Hendrick Motorsports for the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season, Tony Eury Jr. will be his crew chief. Eury, who has been Earnhardt's crew chief for the past two seasons, signed a multi-year agreement with the organization this week.
"Tony Jr. and Dale have a successful history working together," Hendrick said. "They have trust in each other, which is the biggest part of the relationship between driver and crew chief. We have the utmost confidence in their ability to win races and compete for titles at Hendrick Motorsports."
A Kannapolis, N.C., native, Eury will move to Hendrick Motorsports immediately following the current NASCAR season. He will continue the work of Darian Grubb, who will finish the 2007 schedule as crew chief of the No. 25 Chevrolets before moving into a senior competition role with Hendrick Motorsports.
"Dale Jr. and I are both excited to continue working together," said Eury, 34, who has been Earnhardt's crew chief or car chief for the majority of the driver's NASCAR career. "With the resources we'll have at Hendrick Motorsports, it's an opportunity to consistently run up front and be in title contention every year. The goals are winning races and winning championships."
Grubb, 31, who hails from Floyd, Va., will coordinate the at-track engineering efforts of the Earnhardt and Mears teams with emphasis on supporting Eury's transition to Hendrick Motorsports and Mears' switch to the No. 5 Cup Series program.
The personnel moves will give Hendrick Motorsports additional depth with the Earnhardt and Mears teams. Grubb, who earned a championship as an engineer with the No. 48 Chevrolets and has won three times in 29 races as a crew chief, will work hand-in-hand with veteran team manager Brian Whitesell.
"We've asked Darian to shoulder more responsibility and take another step," Hendrick said. "With all the challenges and difficult situations we've thrown his way, he has always proven to be successful. Darian is a star in our organization and his contributions will be vital to our future success.
"This is an extremely talented group we're putting behind Casey and Dale Jr. With the combination of Alan, Tony, Darian and Brian in key leadership positions, we feel strongly that both teams will have the tools to be successful in 2008 and beyond."
Hendrick Motorsports is evaluating alternative numbers for the Earnhardt team, which currently uses the No. 25 on its Chevrolet race cars. A timetable for that announcement has not been set.