Just yesterday, news broke that cousins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. have been separated by team owner Rick Hendrick.
The team's performances this year have been anything but stellar, and many predicted the change would happen prior to the Dover race.
Earnhardt Jr. was spending time in Michigan when the announcement was made, promoting the Sprint Cup Series race at the track June 14.
"It was a very difficult situation," Earnhardt Jr. said of the news. "Obviously, when me and Tony Jr. went to work with Rick (Hendrick) we expected to have a lot of success and be in a totally different situation than we are in now. It's really disappointing, I guess, that we aren't making that happen."
Earnhardt Jr. understood Hendrick's decision, noting that Hendrick Motor Sports is a business first, and that when business is down, changes are needed.
"Rick and the guys decided we needed to go in a new direction," Earnhardt Jr. said yesterday. "I'm supportive and confident in the decisions that they make. They have a lot of great success."
Earnhardt added that he knew the pressure and sensitivity of working with family was a "pretty big risk" and that he and his cousin hoped for the best when they made the move to HMS following the 2007 season.
"We really wanted it to work," he said. "Unfortunately, we didnt' succeed."
Earnhardt Jr. understands that with sponsors and responsibilities the team has, Hendrick had to make changes to keep the team competitive each and every weekend.
"I still have a good resolve and a good initiative and motivation to get up and get to the race track every weekend and try to see when we'll turn this thing around," he continued. "Rick and the guys are positive about the decision that we've made to make the change in crew chief. They seem confident about the decision."
That confidence, Earnhardt Jr. said, makes him and the entire No. 88 AMP Energy team feel good.
"At least they're aware of the situation and they're willing to make changes and do whatever it takes."
During his time with cousin Eury Jr. a top the pit box, Earnhardt Jr. has collected only two wins—one of which was a fuel mileage victory at Michigan International Speedway last year.
The team carried the banner for HMS early in 2008 before faltering to a 12th-place showing in the 2008 Chase.
In 2009, the No. 88 team has struggled both on the track and on pit road.
With just one top-five and three top-10 finishes, Earnhardt Jr. sits 19th in the point standing.
(Quotes: PRN Garage Pass Show)
Kyle Busch: It's never Junior; it's always the crew chief.
When asked Friday what Busch thought in regards to the announcement of Eury Jr. being replaced at the No. 88 team, Busch didn't hold back, saying it was always the crew chief and blame was never put on Earnhardt Jr.
Busch was also asked about Eury's replacement, Lance McGrew. Busch has a history working with McGrew in the Nationwide Series and said: "He's got his hands full, I guess, having to deal with what's going on. And if Junior doesn't run well, then he [McGrew] is going to be the 'problem' again."
Busch continued saying: "You've got to make the most popular driver in the sport competitive, so you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. He's the one who brought that crew chief in; he's the one who pulled so hard to bring Eury Jr. in"
Busch, who was let go in favor of Earnhardt Jr., has taken off since leaving what many consider to be the sport's most dominant team.
In three seasons at HMS, Busch managed just four wins.
He tripled his career total in one season alone, winning eight times at Joe Gibbs Racing in his first season.
Busch leads all drivers this year with three wins in the Cup Series.
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