Hendrick Motorsports Shakeup: NASCAR Fans' Reactions
Rick Hendrick made changes to his organization that may be the biggest shakeup in NASCAR history. After a dismal year for anyone at HMS not driving the No. 48, Hendrick knew changes needed to be made.
Hendrick took Jeff Gordon's ex crew chief Steve Letarte and switched him to Dale Earnhardt's crew chief while Gordon received Alan Gustafson, who left Mark Martin's stall. Therefore, Lance McGrew—who was Earnhardt's crew chief—was sent to Mark Martin. Hendrick also decided to swap Earnhardt and Gordon to different shops.
Earnhardt is now shopped with the No. 48 now known as the 48/88 shop, and Gordon is now in shop with Martin, known as the 5/24 shop.
These changes are hoped to spark Gordon's and Earnhardt's careers to what they used to be. Only time will tell how effective these changes are.
Plenty of fans have reactions and their own opinions. Here are a few quotes from fans around NASCAR and their feelings on the shakeup.
Kelly Crandall, Past Bleacher Report Journalist
"There's no reason to believe that this team won't be successful, mostly because of the history of Steve Letarte. He's an excellent crew chief and works next to one of if not the best in the sport: Chad Knaus.
"With the 88 cars coming out of the shop that was once the 24/48 (which to some has always stood above the former 5/88 shop), the fans are now going to see if Dale Earnhardt Jr. really has what it takes to be a consistent contender, much like he was back in 2004.
"Earnhardt Jr. has the talent, he's always had the talent, so it's not a case of nothing is going to help because he's just not good—the chemistry has not been there with a crew chief in years.
"Letarte has worked with Jeff Gordon who can also be very vocal on the radio and is very popular in the sport—much like Earnhardt Jr.—and Letarte has also, as he said, sat in on a lot of meetings with Earnhardt Jr. and should have a good idea of what he wants in his racecars.
"The 2011 season is very important and should the two not be successful, then it might be time to think about whether Earnhardt Jr. can communicate with crew chief and drive the COT."
Mary Jo Buchanan, Sr. Writer, Speedway Media
"While Mr. Hendrick had to do something about Dale Jr.'s lack of performance and of course he would not mess with the Chad/Jimmie success, it still seems somehow to me that Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin got the short ends of the stick.
"Gordon had to move out of the shop that was built around him and Mark Martin lost his beloved crew chief that he always so generously credited with any of his successes. But you cannot argue with Mr. H.'s success, so we will have to wait for the 2011 season to see if this is just the breath of fresh air that Hendrick Motorsports needs."
Rob Tiongson, Bleacher Report Journalist
"It's a change that's been much needed in the Hendrick campus. Ideas between the three teams grew stale and quite honestly, something had to give after the so-so year that HMS had in 2010. I think the new pairings of Jeff Gordon and Alan Gustafson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Steve Letarte, and Mark Martin and Lance McGrew will do some good to these teams.
We also have to consider how the No. 5 team may be the 'sitting duck' of the Hendrick Motorsports quartet because of how Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis joining the stable in 2012."
Sal Sigala Jr., Bleacher Report Journalist
"Jeff Gordon walked away with the best deal. He got a veteran crew chief who has proven he can put drivers into victory lane, unlike LeTarte who did nothing for Gordon. As far as the shop swap, the only advantage is Gordon doesn't have to look at Johnson whenever he is in the shop."
Tim Heasley, Avid NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fan
"I believe Letarte can resurect Earnhardt's career. Even though i wish Jr. would have acquired Gustafson instead. Martin got the worse deal i feel, but he does only have one more year at HMS. If Jr. cant find success with Letarte i feel he just doesn't have a hold on this new car like he did the old one."
Adam Heasley, Bleacher Report Journalist
"I have all confidence that Letarte and Gustafson can bring back their respectable drivers to victory lane and a championship. If Earnhardt Jr. can compete at a higher level like he used to we will see wins and hopefully a championship. It would do NASCAR a whole lot of good too."
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