Crew chief Bruce Cook has taken over responsibilities for the No. 88 Chevrolets driven by Cole Whitt. Until now Cook has spearheaded the organization’s third team – a part-time entry primarily driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. – while lending assistance to the company’s two full-schedule teams. That role will now fall to Tony Eury Sr., who takes charge of the No. 5 team while continuing his role as JR Motorsports’ competition director. Tony Eury Jr.’s role as crew chief for Danica Patrick and the No. 7 GoDaddy.com team remains unchanged.
“Our teams have a tremendous responsibility not only to perform at the standards we set for ourselves but reflect the commitment to excellence of our sponsors," said Earnhardt Miller. “Our on-track performance isn’t meeting those standards, and we felt a change was necessary."
The No. 5 car will race at Texas next weekend with Earnhardt Jr. and sponsor Degree Men. The crew chief change reunites Earnhardt Jr. with Eury Sr. The pair won 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races between 2000 and 2004 as well as Nationwide Series championships in 1998 and 1999.
The grouping of Cook and Whitt gives one of the series’ hottest young drivers a crew chief that just last year won six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, one Nationwide Series race, and a truck series owners championship. Through five races this season, the No. 88 Taxslayer.com team has one top-five and two top-10s. Whitt, a rookie driver from Alpine, Calif., is currently sixth in the series point standings. His best finish, to date, is a fourth at Daytona. JR Motorsports’ last win came with Jamie McMurray on Sept. 4, 2010.
“Both crew chiefs are very important to this process, and they are completely capable of elevating our teams back to where they are consistently competing for wins," said Earnhardt Miller. “Bruce’s demeanor is probably more suitable in the developmental process of young drivers, and Tony Sr. has the experience and familiarity with Dale Jr. that can help get our 5 car to Victory Lane."
Earnhardt Jr. has two races remaining on his 2012 Nationwide Series slate — Texas on April 13 and Talladega on May 5. The No. 5 car could possibly compete in three to five more races with another driver.