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Yet another crew chief to get axe because Dale Jr. can't winUPDATE #5 If you look a little below the surface, you'll see that this is not a crew chief swap as much as it is a driver swap. The crew chief, the engineers, the mechanics and the fabricators all remain the same. The driver, is just stepping into a another car which is prepared in another shop. Why the move? NASCAR desperately wants the Earnhardt name back in victory circle, but so far, try as they might, the best team in NASCAR cannot seem to make Dale Jr. into a winner. Either you have it or you don't. He doesn't. Another example of what's wrong with American motorsports - the best drivers are not the biggest heroes and poster children and sex symbols are the stars. A sad sad commentary.
11/24/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Hendrick Motorsports not only switched the crew chiefs for NASCAR's fair-haired poster child Dale Earnhardt Jr., as well as Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, but it rearranged its race shops to pair Gordon with Martin and Earnhardt Jr. with Jimmie Johnson.
11/20/10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. says it's not a no-brainer that he gets a new crew chief before the 2011 season and that no one person is responsible for this season's failures. "I'm not certain what's going to happen," Earnhardt Jr. said after Friday's qualifying for the season finale at Homestead. Earnhardt is 19th in points, having missed the Chase for the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons. He has only three top-5s and eight top-10s a year after recording a career-worst two top-5s and five top-10s. Earnhardt has only one win since Lance McGrew was named his crew chief in the middle of 2008, at Michigan. He is mired in a career-worst 92-race losing streak. But Earnhardt believes this season has been better than last year's which he called the worst of his career before this race. He's just not sure what has to happen to turn things around. "It's pretty obvious we aren't very good and we need to do some things to get better,'' Earnhardt said. "It's obvious that's where we are. I don't think it needs to be over-analyzed or anything like that.'' Earnhardt said he asked team owner Rick Hendrick to let the season end before making a decision on any potential changes to his team. Even then, Earnhardt doesn't know how much input he'll personally give. "I've dove into those deals headfirst in the past,'' Earnhardt said. "I'm not doing it this time. I obviously haven't had too good of an effect on the last couple of changes I've made. Maybe I'm not the person to be in there making those kinds of decisions. I don't want to have any effect on whatever that decision is. I've enjoyed working with Lance. I've enjoyed working with this team. We try really hard. They try really hard. No one person has failed this season.'' ESPN
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - still riding on 'Daddy's' coattails while another crew chief becomes the scapegoat
Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn't want to think about personnel issues with his #88 team until the end of the season. That includes a decision about the status of crew chief Lance McGrew. "I ain't really making any decisions on that until after the season's over with," Earnhardt told Sporting News. "I asked team owner Rick Hendrick and everybody in the corporation if I could just not consider any options for next year or any ideas until we're done racing-that I wanted to focus on what we're doing. I just wanted to get all I could out these last two races before I started thinking about that. I will say this about Lance: I've really enjoyed working with him. I've enjoyed even more so becoming his friend and getting to know him as well as I have. I have a lot of respect for him, and he's put up with a lot of crap this year and last year, trying to help get this thing going. He gave me his best effort to try to help each weekend, and I've just got a lot of respect for him." Since McGrew replaced Tony Eury Jr. as crew chief in mid-2009, the results have been disappointing. Earnhardt hasn't won a race since June 2008, and this year he failed to make the Chase for the second straight season. Earnhardt, who started 31st and finished 14th Sunday, isn't laboring under any illusions when assessing the overall performance of the #88 team. "I think I can say that what's going on on the racetrack is a fair assessment," he said. "It's had its ups and downs this year, but here lately we've struggled quite badly. It's been unfortunate, and you really can't visually see what our issues are. It's a moving target for us." Sporting News
10/28/10 Rick Hendrick was asked about the #88 team on Wednesday during a press conference: Q: Where are you with evaluating the teams and the 88? Is that now or in offseason? HENDRICK: "We don't try to make any changes until we get to the end of the year and we look at everything. We all agree. We're just trying to focus on what we've got to do, finish these four and then we'll take a look at where we are." [Editor's Note: Would Hendrick finally fix the problem once and for all and replace the driver?]
10/22/10 A once debatable decision as to whether to keep #88 crew chief Lance McGrew for next season is becoming cut and dry. Leading just three laps since the start of the season's second half, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has just two top-15 finishes over the last 13 races. He and McGrew argue more than the other three Hendrick Motorsports drivers and their crew chiefs combined, yet smile in front of the cameras, pretending it's all OK. While the Hendrick line continues to be McGrew and Earnhardt together in 2011, garage talk has indicated a private shift is in the works. The rumor mill is all over the place with potential replacements, the hottest new name mentioned being Jimmie Johnson's current car chief, Ron Malec. Another name in the mix has been Mark Martin's crew chief, Alan Gustafson denied as the school of thought is Hendrick will look internally for a replacement. Who will emerge from the fray is unclear, but with Earnhardt's team no better off than they were one year ago, it's certain his current crew chief's days are numbered. Sports Illustrated
[Editor's Note: When are they going to stop blaming all his crew chiefs and face up to the fact that if he did not have the same last name as his father he would be picking cotton in a field somewhere.]
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