Face it, Earnhardt just isn't that good UPDATE #3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 16th in points, with a best finish of eighth, so some fans have been calling for his cousin Tony Eury Jr. to be replaced as crew chief. Team owner Rick Hendrick says no. "Both of these guys have told me that if I thought they need to be split, that they understood," Hendrick explained. "That's my call, and I'm not ready to make that call, not even close . . . I'm convinced that they are better together."
Earnhardt, with two Cup wins at PIR, has been defending Eury almost weekly. "Whether we are the perfect combination or not, that doesn't mean anything to me," he said. "I just like racing with him."
03/25/09 Car owner Rick Hendrick says he is fully committed to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and embattled crew chief Tony Eury Jr. The team has been under fire for its slow start this season. Earnhardt last week asked for relief from the constant criticism Eury has faced from fans and media. Hendrick says the driver and crew chief were part of a three-hour meeting Wednesday to figure out what's wrong with the #88 team. He says the team is under great pressure, but everyone is committed to turning this season around. After five races, Earnhardt has just one top-10 finish and is 19th in the standings. Associated Press
03/23/09 Dale Earnhardt Jr. felt good about his car, but track position cost NASCAR's most popular driver, relegating him to a 14th-place finish. Though respectable, Earnhardt never made a serious push into contention, because he just isn't that good and NASCAR fans can't accept that.
Junior started 34th after qualifying on Friday, which also was the 30th anniversary of his father's first Cup race win. He began the race at the back of the field, however, due to a transmission change.
"We had a good competitive car--a top 10 car for sure--and just could never get there," Earnhardt said. "These guys on this team are talented. If we work really hard at our job and our craft, man, we'll see results."
Earnhardt, who climbed five spots in the points standings to 19th, was asked if it was difficult to stay positive given the expectations for his Hendrick Motorsports team.
"To be honest with you, it's not that hard to stay positive until you get around the media," he said with a laugh. "I mean you guys have got to take a little responsibility for being so hard on everybody and some people are going to argue that you all are just calling out to the reality of a situation, but we're trying to work hard and trying to do our job and that's what we do every week. Somebody seems to think we still belong here and so we keep showing up."
03/21/09 Dale Earnhardt fans have a hard time swallowing the fact that their driver is just not that good. They have blamed the DEI team, the car, and now they blame his crew chief Tony Eury. Earnhardt was forced to defend Eury at a conference Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
|NASCAR's biggest hero Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
“I have said it a hundred times – and it just doesn’t seem to make a dent – but the guy that I feel bad for is Tony, Jr. because he gets criticized so badly,” Earnhardt said.
“Everybody in this room – and some of you have criticized him yourselves – know how smart a guy he is. He is a good mechanic and a solid crew chief.”
“[Eury, Jr.] just wanted to do this for a living, just like I do, but I’ll take the fall,” Earnhardt said. “I would rather be crucified than him. Every time I read in the paper that people are on his case, I feel like I am sending my brother to jail for a crime I committed, you know what I mean. I feel bad for him because he just wants to work and have fun.”
“There are riffs between every driver and every crew chief, and they work it out or they don’t,” Earnhardt said. “I think me and Tony, Jr. do a pretty good job of working it out. Obviously, through everything we have been through, we still love each other to death and would do anything for each other.”
Before Earnhardt moved to the Hendrick Motorsports team last season, he worked with five crew chiefs at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. The most successful pairing came with Eury’s father, Tony Sr.
With his last name and marquee team, Earnhardt understands he cannot afford to be average.
“I put myself in this position,” Earnhardt said. “I’m willing to accept the ups and downs and the goods and bads that come with it. “We haven’t run like we want to, like I think we should. It’s alright for everyone to point that out.”
[Editor's Note: But he is average, in fact he may be less than average. He has all the car setups available to him from the other three Hendrick cars and still he cannot get it around the race track as fast. Look at him on a road course, where talent really matters. Did you see him in the Corvette a few years ago at Sears Point? He almost killed himself.
Like the IRL, NASCAR hangs their success on a driver who is most popular but far from being the best, and in sports mediocre is just not good enough.]