Probably the biggest question that's been asked after the Watkins Glen race last week is what's up with Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt's 88 Amp Energy Drink / National Guard team. I've seen a lot of answers, from Tony Jr. is a bonehead, to Dale Jr. just can't drive a race car. I have to laugh at all of these responses.
I too disagreed with Tony Jr.'s strategy of trying to keep Dale Jr. out for not one, but two green flag runs just a little too long. Boneheaded, you say? I doubt it.
Tony Eury Jr. has had the top job for a few years now, and I'm certainly not saying he's the greatest crew chief out there, but besides who his cousins are, there has to be reason for him to be running that team. Though it might not sound like it, especially during the races, should you happen to listen in on the radio conversations between the two Jr.'s, there is obviously a lot of trust there.
Trust, like all things worthwhile in life, takes time to develop and to totally gel.
Though Tony Jr. and Dale Jr. have known each other all their lives, they have only been working in their current capacities for a few years. Both are new guys at Hendrick Motorsports this year, and for much of the season have been the Hendrick marquis team. They've been highest in points, up until Watkins Glen, and have a points win, which is one more than teammate Jeff Gordon has this year.
I believe, if you sit down and analyze the facts, the 88 team has done very well for itself this year. Certainly both driver and crew chief have made mistakes, and maybe more than they need to be making to assure themselves of a championship. But drivers and crew chiefs are human.
So far this year, Dale Jr. and Tony Jr. have made some mistakes. Apparently Kyle Busch and Steve Addington have made fewer mistakes. Apparently Toyota found something in the offseason that Chevrolet didn't find. There are so many factors going on here that they are nearly impossible to count and credit or discredit.
Kyle Busch is having a career year. He's won eight races in the Cup series, and any driver would love to have that record. It doesn't mean that he will win the championship, by any means. There are still far too many races to be run.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. have some things they need to sort out. I know they do, and so do they. I do think, however, that the consistency that Dale Jr. has shown so far this year, with a brand new team and a brand new owner, brand new engines and cars, shows us that even if the championship doesn't happen this year, it's surely going to happen very soon.