Earnhardt Jr. wants McGrew and crew back for 2010

Jim BobCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2009

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R) and crew chief Lance McGrew (L) stand beside the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2009 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

With just eight races remaining in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s dismal season, it's getting close to the time for a decision on whether or not Lance McGrew, currently the interim crew chief of the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, will return to the top of the team's box next season or not.

During the Sprint Cup Series' six-time most popular driver has a well-documented season, which has not only seen his long-time crew chief and cousin, Tony Eury Jr., getting replaced as crew chief for the time but has also been home of Earnhardt Jr.'s worst average finish in his entire career.

Through 28 races in the 36 race Sprint Cup Series schedule this season, Earnhardt Jr. has an average finish of 21.8, which is worse then his average finish of 21.4 in 1999 when he raced his first five events in the Sprint Cup Series.

While Eury Jr. was the crew chief this season—a 12-race span from the Daytona 500 the Coca-Cola 600 in May—the tandem recorded an average finish of 21.3. That is compared the average finish of 22.125 posted by McGrew and Earnhardt Jr. during the last 16 races—from the first Dover race in May to last weekend's AAA 400 from Dover.

However, to McGrew's defense, the team has had three DNFs and finished laps down at Watkins Glen earlier this year after a break failure. Other than those four races, the team has finished on the lead lap in every event they've been together.

Through the 12 events without a DNF or a non-lead lap finish at Daytona, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen and Loudon, the team has an average finish of 17.08, just over four positions better then Eury Jr.'s 12-race average with Earnhardt Jr. this season.

With the success he and McGrew have accounted for so far this season, Earnhardt Jr. said that even though the decision is ultimately team owner Rick Hendrick's decision he would enjoy seeing the same crew he has now for the team's redemption run next season.

"I get along great with Lance. We have had some great runs and I feel like I can build on that type of success and it happened more often, more consistently with Lance. And I hope that we're successful the rest of the year and that we go into next season with the same group of guys. But the decision isn't mine, and never will be mine. So, I hope that we'll have more success and continue to give Rick and the people that do make those types of decisions good reason to keep us as a team and keep us working together because I really do enjoy working with him.

"For the most part, Lance is really great at controlling the situation and controlling our team and directing our team throughout the weekend and the races themselves. I've enjoyed the experience working with him."