Will Changing Crew Chiefs Solve Dale Earnhardt Jr. Problems?

Jim CrooksCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 25:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The news that Tony Eury Jr. has been replaced as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief by Lance McGrew is hardly surprising when you consider how the 88 team has been performing lately.  

I don't think it was a matter of "if" it was going to happen, but a matter of "when" it would happen.

I believe it unfair to lay all of the blame for the 88 team's poor performance at the feet of Eury. Earnhardt is the man behind the wheel, and he has had more than his share of problems getting the car into his pit stall this season.

Earnhardt has also been roundly criticized for his part in communicating what the car is doing on the track.

Obviously, the 88 team has problems. Sometimes the problems stem from a lack of cohesion between the members of the team. As the guy in charge of the team, the crew chief is the logical place to look when searching for problems.

Hence the change at crew chief.

It apparently was Earnhardt's wish that he drive the rest of his career with his cousin on top of the pit box.  It now appears that won't happen.  

It is unknown at this point how Earnhardt feels about this move. Earnhardt is however, a professional race car driver, and I'm sure he wants to perform better, no matter what it takes.

Racing is a performance oriented business, to make a gross understatement.  As competitive as the Sprint Cup series is, literally every part of the team has to be clicking perfectly just to achieve a win.  

To keep it all together for an entire season and win a championship is a monumental effort, but it's necessary to achieve the big prize, which is, of course, the Sprint Cup.

I would caution Earnhardt fans not to expect miracles right away. Changing crew chiefs may indeed be a step in the right direction, but it may be only one step in a long process.

Hopefully, McGrew will be able to improve the 88 team. McGrew will be on top of the pit box at Dover, so he'll get his chance right away.  

McGrew has been apart of a successful crew in the past, and eventually he might become the second coming of Chad Knaus.

Only time will tell for Earnhardt and the rest of his team.


Note:  I obviously mispoke about who would be on Dale Jr.'s pit box this weekend at Dover.  Brian Whitesell will act as crew chief at Dover, not Lance McGrew.  I didn't discover this fact until after I had already published the article.