by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.May 28, 2009 4:30 pm UTC 2 Comments
Tony Eury, Jr. must be breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The latest obstacle in the way of Dale Earnhardt Jr‘s road to success has been mercifully moved to the research and development side of the Hendricks Motor Sports garage. Tony Eury Jr was released from his duties as the crew chief for his cousin earlier today (Thursday). You just have to wonder if Eury, Jr. had to be muttering under his breath; “What took so long?”
Rick Hendrick was not going to fire Earnhardt; even though much of the disappointing season has to be put squarely on the shoulders of The Intimidator’s son. The well documented brain farts of Earnhardt Jr had to weigh heavy on Eury Jr. It was only a matter of time before Hendrick had to make a move.
“Our performance hasn’t been where it should be,” said Hendrick. “It’s impossible to pin that on any one factor, but a change is the right decision at this point. We have a plan in place, and we’re going to move forward with it.”
That plan revolves around veteran crew chief Lance McGrew. McGrew most recently has been guiding Brad Keselowski’s Cup effort. An effort that resulted in a seventh place finish at Darlington. McGrew has won a Nationwide championship with Brian Vickers in 2003. He has won races from on top of the pit box in all three national series with drivers Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Hendrick, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and most recently Tony Stewart.
Team manager Brian Whitesell will lead the team this weekend at Dover. Whitesell and Rex Stump, Hendrick Motorsports’ lead chassis engineer, have been assigned to support McGrew on a full-time basis. Whitesell, who won two of seven races as Jeff Gordon’s interim crew chief in 1999, will join McGrew and team engineer Tom Stewart on the no. 88 pit box to assist with race strategy. Hendrick plotted his strategy:
“We’re going to put our full resources toward improving the situation and winning races. It’s going to be a collective effort that includes all of our drivers, all of our crew chiefs and all of our engineers. Everyone in our company will be involved on some level.”
McGrew, Whitesell, Stump and Stewart will give the team something it has not had since Tony Eury, Sr. was Junior’s crew chief; an authority figure to call the shots. The days of indecision and questioning race calls from inside the cockpit will be a thing of the past.
One more questionable piece of this under performing puzzle has been replaced. Now that the “evil step-mother” and the “bumbling crew-chief” are gone from the picture, the focus will now have to center on one person. Once and for all we will see where the problem has been.
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.April 7, 2009 5:57 am UTC No Comments
With his first win in forty-seven starts, Jeff Gordon has begun to quiet critics.
People have questioned his commitment to racing, his race team and winning during the streak that has had fans clamoring for the release of crew chief Steve Latarte. Latarte has never come under the same sort of bashing that has besieged fellow Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. The attacks on Latarte have been a way for fans and members of the media to try and lay blame for a win less streak that has been very un-Gordon-like.
“I don’t know how many years I have left, but you want to prove to yourself something and make sure there are no excuses. I’m giving these guys everything I’ve got.”
Gordon’s desire has been questioned since his marriage to Ingrid Vandebosch and the birth of their daughter Ella. The terms soft and unfocused have been used to describe the four time champion as he has struggled through the longest non-winning streak of his career. A career that has him on the verge of tying Cale Yarborough for fifth all time in wins and just three short of passing Bobby Allison for third.
It now appears that the naysayers have a revitalized Jeff Gordon to deal with. Gordon leads the points by 162 and more wins seem on the way. And that leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
Now that Gordon’s win drought is over, how many races will he win in 2009?
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.June 16, 2008 10:13 pm UTC 3 Comments
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ended his winless streak at seventy-six.
Tony Eury, Jr. who has taken a beating from fans for his overly conservative pit strategies, rolled the fuel mileage dice on Sunday and beat the odds. The Mountain Dew Chevy went further than any car had a right to go on a tank of fuel to allow Junior fans to finally cheer their hero.
Just because he stretched NASCAR’s rule book by passing the pace car during the last caution and thus raising the ire of at least Matt Kenseth; it didn”t keep Junior’s fans from reveling in his first points paying victory at Hendrick Motorsports. Junior talked about his conversation with Eury toward the end of the race:
…he told me with 20 to go, he told me that scenario. He said: “There’s guys behind us that are going to make it and you’re going to get beat by them if you pit. And if we go for it, and if we run out, we’re going to finish 25th. If we pit we’re going to finish 25th, so go for it.”
Kenseth was the most outspoken of the drivers who took umbredge with Junior’s efforts to save fuel by speeding past the pace car to gain enough momentum to shut the engine down and coast half way around the track.
This brings us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
Was Junior’s win at Michigan tainted, because it was a fuel mileage race that ended under caution?
photo credit: Beth Anne Heisler - ON PIT ROW