NASCAR Rumors: Is McGrew Out As Earnhardt's Crew Chief?

Clint BryantCorrespondent IIOctober 22, 2010

NASCAR Rumors: Is McGrew Out As Earnhardt's Crew Chief?

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    DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 08:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet, talks with crew chief Lance McGrew (L) and team owner Rick Hendrick (R) on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series SHOWTIME Southern
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Sports Illustrated recently reported that "private shifts" behind the scenes will oust Lance McGrew as crew chief of the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has been committed to keeping the duo together, but change me be imminent.

    Earnhardt has only three top-five finishes in 2010.

    While speculation abounds, let us look at the most likely candidates to take over as crew chief for NASCAR's most popular driver.

Ron Malec: Car Chief, No. 48

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    LOUDON, NH - JUNE 29:  Ron Malec, crew chief of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, driven by Jimmie Johnson, stands in the garage, during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on June 29, 2007
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Rick Hendrick loves to promote from within. What better place to find a successor than from his most successful team of late. Malec could get his big break but would have to accept the pressure that comes with that Amp Energy uniform.

Alan Gustafson: Crew Chief, No. 5

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    MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 26:  Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Mark Martin (not pictured), driver of the #5 CARQUEST/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsvill
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Another possible inside move would be current crew chief Alan Gustafson. Mark Martin is moving on after 2011. After contending for the Sprint Cup in 2009 with five wins, the duo's performance fell off this season. With Kasey Kahne coming in 2012, Hendrick may not mind shuffling the team around.

Tony Eury Jr.: Crew Chief, No. 7 NNS

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    DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 02:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 2, 201
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    They said they would never do it again.

    This past July at the Daytona Nationwide Series they did it anyway....

    ... and won.

    They fuss, they fight, and they call each other names. But Eury did make the chase twice with Junior, more than anyone else.

Tony Eury Sr: Crew Chief, No. 88 NNS

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    DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 03: Tony Eury Sr. (L), crew chief of the #88 Klondike Chevrolet, speaks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R), driver of the #5 Fastenal Chevrolet, prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona Internatio
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Eury Sr. was Earnhardt's crew chief from 1997 to 2004.

    Two Nationwide Series championships.

    15 Sprint Cup Series wins.

    Top 10 Points Finishes in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

    Junior has never been the same without him.

A Surprise Hire?

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    Greg Zippadelli
    Greg ZippadelliJason Smith/Getty Images

    Hendrick may pull out the checkbook for an outside hire.

    Rick knows the Earnhardt problem will be a thorn in his side until Junior starts winning races or leaves the team.

    Would Greg Zippadelli take on the challenge?

    Maybe Mike Ford could be lured away from Joe Gibbs?

It Is Time To Win

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    DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 02:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 2, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Rick Hendrick's biggest fear since 2008 has become a reality. The moves he made to bring Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports have not paid off.

    Can he fix the No. 88 team and get Dale back to victory lane? 

    The next crew chief has to bring it all together, or the son of one of NASCAR's greatest drivers may never see the checkered flag again.

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