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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The marriage has gone bad … Dale Jr., Eury Jr. need to break up

The stat line isn’t pretty.

12 races, 1 top-5, 3 top-10s, 90 laps led, 23.1 average start, 21.3 average finish, 19th in points.

Did I mention these are the numbers for Dale Earnhardt Jr., the most popular and well-paid driver in the sport who is driving for a Hendrick team that is the best in NASCAR, and all his teammates have won this year and are in the top 12 in points?

I’m sure the Jr. Elite will call me just another hater, but the situation has reached critical status at the #88 team. The 40th place finish at Charlotte, in a car that was junk from the start, was a low I didn’t think Jr. would reach this soon.

Even Rick Hendrick himself sounded more open to change on Tuesday, and it’s more likely that Tony Eury Jr. could be on the way out as Earnhardt’s crew chief.

So what is wrong with this team?

We all know the Hendrick equipment is solid by the way his teammates are running up front every week. So that leaves two options: Either his crew chief isn’t setting the car up properly, or the driver isn’t up to snuff.

At this point, I’m going to lean toward the first option. Dale Jr. used to win races, and DEI was far from the best team in the garage. He has talent and has shown it through his career. Through the first half of 2008, Jr. was the best driver in the Hendrick stable.

But in the year since then, something just isn’t clicking. It appears he and his cousin are in a situation similar to a marriage that has gone bad. They’ve stuck together so long and things have fizzled … they’re just going through the motions and can’t get the magic back. Just as you would in that marriage situation, there’s only one best solution: BREAK UP.

He’ll still see Eury at family functions and they’ll still be friends who go fishing together, but there’s no need for them to work together anymore – It’s not working.
Whether it’s Jr.’s fault of Eury’s fault, or both, the time to move on has come.

Continuing with the current setup could lead to the most disastrous season of Jr.’s career, at a time he is supposed to be competing for a title. Knowing how much Rick Hendrick wants to win, I don’t think he’s going to let that happen.

Brian Keselowski says Go Wings!
After watching Kyle Busch dominate the Nationwide race Saturday, then seeing Mike Bliss win because of rain, I was underwhelmed. Honestly, it was among the worst races I’ve ever seen.

Bliss and Brendan Gaughan, two Nationwide-only drivers, were 1-2, but they had to rely on Mother Nature to get that done. Otherwise, Busch would have wiped the floor with everybody. Busch’s dominating double-dipping is seriously taking all the suspense out of this series. You can pencil him in for a win almost every weekend before the cars even arrive at the track.

The only good thing to come out of the night was Brian Keselowski’s car, which was sporting a Detroit Red Wings logo. The Rochester Hills native was showing his support for his home team as they march toward the Stanley Cup.

Was there a race this weekend?
I have yet to comment on this weekend’s Cup race, for a very good reason. There really wasn’t a race this weekend. Sure, they got past halfway, and congratulations to David Reutimann for picking up the trophy (I’m sure he would have won one eventually in a competitive manner, anyway).

Events like this weekends, though -- four or five short segments of racing split up by rain -- don’t qualify as a race to me. Having attended races where weather forced extreme delays, I can assure you the fans were extremely annoyed. Unfortunately Mother Nature did not cooperate and no one can influence her.

NASCAR did the best they could under the circumstances, but overall the weekend was a disaster if you were hoping to watch good racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many are quick to blame Tony Jr for the results with the 88 car this year. They are not stopping to realize that Jr can NOT drive a loose car. The nature of the beast (the COT) it is more on the loose side than the tight side and harder to get the perfect set up. Speaking of set up they are ever changing almost race to race, what worked 3 months or a year ago will not work now. Add to the mix the ban on testing. Jr is not the only driver having this problem... Kevin Harvick is another driver that comes to mind. He got a new crew chief and so far his results have been a disappointment too.

It is not all Tony Jr instead a combination of Jr, Tony Jr and the crew. I am a big Jr fan and call it the way I see it.

May 27, 2009 at 11:49 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it..... Jr. & Jr. seemed to do well with the COT in the early part of 2008?

Was their communication that much better then?

The loose car that Jr. was driving at Charlotte would have been perfect in the hands of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards or Dale Earnhardt.

Now, what if Eury Jr. gets the boot and the results don't change. Do you fire the driver?

May 28, 2009 at 6:29 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Considering that Jr. is the biggest cash cow in the sport, there about a 0 percent chance Jr. will ever be fired from Hendrick Motorsports.

So that leaves one solution: Fix the problem by any means necessary, with the only exception being a driver change. Whether it's a fresh crew chief, new car setups, or Jr. forcing himself to learn how to drive a loose car (or all of the above) Hendrick will have to find a way to get the team back on track.

May 28, 2009 at 9:32 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cash cow seems to be drying up. Hendricks isn't making much on Jr. ON the track and if sales of everything Jr. are declining, I'm sure this is the main reason for a change. No wicked step mother, no bad equipment and now no cousin. Talk about hanging out there by yourself. It's make or break time, Jr. Lets see if you prove Teresa wrong or right....driver or media personality? It's all on you now.

May 28, 2009 at 7:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eury Jr. is gone from the 88 team.

Now, we get to really find out if it was the crew chief or the driver.

May 28, 2009 at 7:17 PM 

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