It is being reported that during the Easter break, Hendrick Motorsports held discussions about a possible crew cheif switch between the No. 5 and No. 88, with Alan Gustafon becomming the new crew cheif for NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Tony Eury Jr. moving over to driver Mark Martin.
As I said a few days ago, I suspected that this might be coming, but I thought next year, not this year.
At the end of the discussion, it was agreed that the teams would stay in tact for three more weeks to see if both teams could improve without the switch.
But, with Martin’s victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500, Rick Hendrick is said to be unlikely to move Gustafson from the no. 5 team. If the team builds more momentum, the move would become more unlikely.
If Jr continues to struggle, Eury Jr could be replaced by car cheifs Ron Malec (no. 48 team) or Jason Burdett (No. 24).
If both teams struggle, a switch could come All Star weekend.
Despite defending Eury Jr recently, if the team continues to struggle, then a move becomes inevitable.
Eury Jr takes a lot of flack for Jr’s poor performance, but last week’s race showed, without a doubt, that there was a problem with the changes that were made to the car. Jr’s car was junk for most of the night, despite leading 50+ laps due to pit strategy.
A move might be good for all of those involved. While this isn’t the first time the two would be broken up — they were separated in 2006 — Hendrick is a different team than Dale Earnhardt Inc was when they were split.
I doubt that Hendrick is going to let his most popular driver struggle without trying something to inject some life into this team.
And, given Jr’s track record at Talladega Superspeedway, his performance this Sunday should tell us if Eury is in jeopardy.