Monday, August 9, 2010

Could Tony Eury Sr. be the key to the resurgence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR too)?

With the recent downward spiral of attendance and television ratings, one cannot help but think the poor performance of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a factor. His peak years came when NASCAR was most popular, 2001-2004. Since his last top ten points finish in 2006, ratings and attendance have also sputtered. Now, there are plenty of factors that have hurt NASCAR recently, its safe to assume more people would be watching if Junior was winning again.

But the question is can Earnhardt contend again? To answer that, you must first break down where it went wrong for Junior. There is no one set answer, but we can look at the following things:

Crew chief – To this day, I still don’t understand why Tony Eury Sr. was let go as Earnhardt’s crew chief. In a little more than five seasons these two worked together, they amassed 15 wins. The duo also had three consecutive 1000-plus laps led seasons, quite an impressive feat considering Jimmie Johnson is the only other driver in the past ten years to do this. Since 2005 Earnhardt has gone through more crew chiefs than wins, with only three trips to victory lane. Put Eury Sr. back in the pit box and let’s see if the magic can return.

COT- Perhaps Eury Sr. doesn’t have everything to do with it. With the new car, Junior has won only once, with just eighteen top 5’s and a lone Chase appearance that saw him finish 12th out of 12 drivers.

Owner – Many thought when Rick Hendrick signed Earnhardt back in 2007 that great things were going to come. After all, he won his very first race in HMS car at the 2008 Bud Shootout. And it took just a few races before he got a points paying win at Michigan International Speedway. Indeed, it looked like the right move for Junior. But since then, it has been a disaster; another crew chief change, 25th in the points last year, and just four top 5’s in the past two seasons. Three of those four finishes have come on the restrictor plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona, The problem with that isn’t the equipment; teammates Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin all had terrific years last year, and even though Martin is a little off this year, 2010 is again a good season for HMS. So why is Junior so far off? Well, at DEI he was the number one guy with the most resources, and now he is the fourth stringer at HMS. That right there could lead to self defeat, which leads me to…

Driver- Listen, I don’t know the guy personally, so it would be ignorant of me to say Earnhardt doesn’t have the desire to compete anymore. Listening to him on his radio during the races would seem to be quite the opposite. But it does seem weird how he could have some amazing years with lesser equipment and then struggle with the best cars in the garage.

While it looks to be a combination of everything, I firmly believe if Eury Sr. is put back on the pit box good things will happen. He has that “shut up and drive” attitude that can keep Earnhardt focused. Unfortunately, I don’t see this change happening at all, and if this problem doesn’t get fixed, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't be winning races. And if he isn’t winning races, NASCAR will lose more fans.

21 comments:

  1. To put Junior and Eury, Sr. together would be very risky for Junior. Not being successful with that combination would expose him for what he really is, a run of the mill driver. The "Nation" would have nothing left for excuses, his empire would crumble and he would have to go back to changing oil at his dads car dealership

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  2. Agree with you 100%. So what if he doesn't "understand" the COT. Lance is supposed to and look at the results. Put SR on the pitbox for the rest of the year and surround him with the "brains" from HMS and let's see what happens. Right now I don't see it getting any worse.

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  3. I can't help but feel that the accident Jr. had in a "plastic" Corvette at Daytona a number of years back still hangs in the back of his mind. I truly feel he thought he was going to die! W#hen you come that close to demise, it is BOUND to affect your mind. Ever heard of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder)? It doesn't happen only to the military.

    I raced many years ago but never experienced what Jr, did in that incident but I can about imagine what it must have been like.........

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  4. I seem to recall that Sr. stopped crew chiefing Dale Jr. because the schedule was too demanding and he wanted to cut back, plus it was the chance for Eury Jr to takeover as the crew chief.
    If Eury Sr. were to takeover, he would have to have an extremely capable car chief since it would be likely that he would be far behind on the technology side of things, since the Nationwide and Sprint cars are so different.

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  5. I don't think it is the driver or the car. The problem is the 2 guy who control Junior: Lance McGrew and Rick Hendrick. Lance can't even get the car to where Dale Jr. is comfortable to him. Please, get him away before he makes it worst. And Rick Hendrick, didn't he say he was making Dale Jr. his number one priority during the off-season? Just how much did he put into that? Its getting really old now and if Dale Jr. doesn't at least finish in the top 10, let alone the Chase itself, I would say screw Rick Hendrick and on to Richard Childress for me. At least there, he is familiar with the equipment and know how they do things.

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  6. Racemaster: It was Sonoma, not Daytona when Junior was saved from the fate of a fiery death when the ghost of Earnharts past pulled him from the wreckage caused when he screwed up driving.
    And I see that we're already lining up excuses if Eury Sr. should somehow be brought in to try and save Junior's career. Any failure can be then deflected to the lack of an extremely experienced car chief.

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  7. "Having Sr. back on Jr.'s pit box would only work if they were at EGR or RCR. The 25/88 is the R&D car for HMS & it has never been competitive for a championship. I read a post that said that Rick wants to close DEI, get JJ 8 championships to beat E Sr's 7, and erase the Earnhardt wherever he can. With the way things are unfolding it would seem that he is right. When Rick nailed Jr. in to a 5 yr. contract, half of JRM was also required by Rick. I guess as insurance so that Jr. can't leave."

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  8. When JR came out winning in 2008 and was 3rd. in points and if that were allowed to continue no one would even know who Johnson & Gordon are.JG said that if JR won a championship no one would know who the rest of them were.SO in my opinion someone made the decision to put a stop to JRS success at HMS either from pressure from JJ&JG or Hendricks himself.Last yr.at some point during the year they found out JR wasn't getting the same cars as everyone else and this year JR questioned why his car didn't have the same set up under it as JJ and JG. Now this year Mark martin suddenly lost the magic touch.Rick Hendrick has said many times he wants JG to win 5 championships which I doubt he ever will. I agree JR needs to bail out of HMS ASAP. HE CAN STILL DRIVE A RACE CAR BUT HE NEEDS A GOOD CAR TO DO IT.

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  9. Look, I am a huge Jr fan and am sick and tired of seeing his talent get wasted away at HMS. People that keep claiming that Hendrick want's to destroy the Earnhardt name, or control Jr, or say that Hendrick isn't giving the 88 team the same cars, You're crazy. Why would Lance McGrew go for that? Lance is being lynched (rightfully so in my opinion) for not getting Jr in the top 10 consistently. Why would he want to just sit back and build a bad name for him self in the most high profile job in NASCAR? The crazies of Jr Nation need to realize that there is no conspiracy going on at HMS with Dale Jr. It is simply the fact that the 24/88 shop is the main focus. Those are the guys Hendrick wants winning championships. Hendrick isn't giving Jr bad cars, he simply just not being proactive in trying to get the 88 team in the form they were in early 2008. Hendrick hasn't made the 88 team his main focus, because the 24/88 always will be. Why do you think that Lance McGrew was announced as CC toward the end of last year? Because he was the only in-house CC that Hendrick has. Hendrick won't outsource. Why do you think Ron Malec, possibly the next best thing to Chad Knaus, not promoted to be Dale Jr's Crew Chief? Because again...24/88 is main focus at HMS. NOT the 88 team as was claimed. It's blatantly obvious people...Why do you think that teams such as RCR,and Roush can turn around 3-4 teams in less than a season, but the "top" team in NASCAR, HMS, can not get one team turned around in a matter of 2 seasons.

    It's simple...Look at what's been done to improve Jr. They gave him an Engineer that was already working in the shop. They pulled the worst crew chief at HMS out of R&D and put him on Jr's box. When results stayed the same, they left that crew chief there to serve for another full season. Ridiculous.

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  10. What makes you or anyone think because Junior hasn't done much since 2004 has anything to do with attendence. Oh, sure we may have lost the bandwagon fans that jumped on because they felt sorry for Junior because his daddy died but those are fans that weren't going to stay with the sport anyway. What is driving a lot of fans away is stupid reporters like you who feel that this whole sport just one day became popular because Dale Junior jumped up on the scene and when Junior is gone the sport will collaspe back to just a redneck sport of the 50's and 60's.

    Hate to tell you but NASCAR survived before Junior and it will survive without Junior. As for attendence? Have you not noticed this country is in a recession? People don't have $800 to spend on a weekend at the races anymore. But get this NASCAR's attendence is still higher than it was 15 years ago. How 'bout that. It's ratings on TV are higher too. Oh My God, NASCAR hasn't fallen completely apart since 2005 now has it?

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  11. Is it time for Jr to move on read it for all the Jr bashers you might actually learn why he not only is a class act, holds his head high,and why his NATION adores him. You actually must read the article to educate yourself. And than there are his racing stats that cannot be disputed by you'all it is just amazing that some of you even have a brain.learn read and listin before you make such hard judgements have you's actually ever met him in person I have been in his persents so many times over the years at racing events you people just educate yourself about the man you might just get it one day.He is not his dad will never accomplish what his father did and he isn't trying but he is one hell of a racer.Accept it and read the article so media people that actually know him do get it. Not many but some

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  12. Sure, there are plenty of other reasons besides Jr. that has hurt the sport (i.e. the Chase, more cookie cutter tracks, the COT, Jimmie Johnson, even the recession.

    But I find it hard to believe that I am driving away fans.

    Thanks for reading!

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  13. Rick Minter great article as the person wirote its not just about numbers and I totally agree but than I'm a true Ntion fan myself although Biff and Matt the brat and also Smoke so I'm not bias but do read all the garbage about Jr. just to see how people sprue before they actally know what there talking about. I agree no education on some parts just pass judgement with out knowing sad but is the way people are. as you said he does have great stats 37 on the all time list which is not a bad number until some of these young guns might pass in fifteen years but until Dale is done I think his numbers will improve. I say this year he will not makethe chase but he willl actually do better not making it I think a win and a bunch of top 10's last ten races

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  14. hope he soon leaves hendrick,there just makeing a mockery out of him,when the chase starts an his not init the #88 comes of my back window,getting embrassing to have it there,can only stay afan for so long,cant stand rick hendrick,car salesmen an bser,jr was a sucker for that one ,an yes they doent want him to be succesful there,jg-jj is the stars there but they got jr there an can make him look bad ,an they know that,an laughing about it, an pretend to care on national tv,if he doesnt make the chase i will be doing a lot more fishing,bet the big shots at nascar isn,t licking there chops now,,

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  15. Hey Putty,

    OK, we are going to try this again. I think that JR and Eury Sr. should give it one last try because the chemistry was obviously there. He is far from over the hill or washed up, I just dont believe that the passion he had a few years ago remain. I believe that if the negotiations between him and DEI would have went well then we would be having a different conversation but due to poor negotiations his hands was forced to switch to HMS. In my opinion, I think that he can play that roll driver as well as the #1 which he is accustomed to...#3, #8 &, #88 4EVA

    3WB's

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  16. being a racer and racing for 10yrs,u can take this to the bank and cash it any way u want!!!YOURE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE EQUITMENT UP UNDER YOU....blame jr all you want but lets be real.ask yourself,why aint 24 winning?with good car,he'll make 48 look stupid.whats 18,14,99,5,17,9 doing???NOTHING!!!his day will come,his talent will show and he'll back at the front once again...ive been where hes at before,bad cars make u look bad and until all u haters know what its like,SHUT UP!!!HMS is the problem and will continue to be.he dont want another earnhardt running him in the ground again,DO YOU RICK???????

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  17. The Ratings thing is so true....NASCAR would never admit it, but if Jr would win and Challenge for a Championship Numbers would Sore again...Just look at the Ratings on the Daytona race when he ran the three. People care about JR.....put Jr and Kyle Busch in cars that a competitive..let them race everyweek...you'll have some ratings then....We love to love JR...and we Love to hate Busch

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  18. Ok One more time Tony Sr HIMSILF said he is not up to date with Sprint cup it is not in his system he does not understand nor want to learn Sprint level he will be retiring soon in NW series the man is in his seventies he does not Sprint level. The mistake Henderick made was letting Darien Grubb go over to Stewart Hass he should have been keep there for Dale

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  19. Henderick is not the problem he is not leaving Henderick his contract is threw 2011 he will not be released early and my guess is he will extend his contract early. Dale is the cash cow. he can run around in the back it doesn't matter his sponsers are not going anywhere you people really need to educate yourself on this sport

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  20. So watching and keeping up with the sport for 30 years, and I and others who don't drink the Junior Kool-aid don't know what we're talking about. Amazing. I know Junior won 18 races, I also realize that you have to be good to win 18 races. But I'm not blind, Junior says one thing and his body says something completely different. And don't give me that Country boy crap. Hell, I'm country, but when a driver is really interested in what he is doing he stands straight and looks people in the eyes. Junior quit doing that in 2005 when he realized that he put his foot in his mouth at the end of the 2004 season. Remember, I can win with any of the DEI's equipment, Give Michael Waltip my equipment and give him Tony Jr. I'll take his cars and crew cheif and win. Well, before the 2005 season was over, he took back all of his old equipment and he took Tony Jr. Away from Michael and still did nothing. We heard the fans last season begging Rick to remove Tony Jr. as crew chief. Rick did what the Nation wanted and now that Junior still isn't winning you want to blame the owner. That my friends shows where the ignorance really lies doesn't it. If this didn't fix the problem the problem lies somewhere esle. Because is sure isn't Junior. and for individual who was talking about the downfall of Mark Martin, that is easy, they gave Junior half of Marks teams trying to get him a win. Didn't happen did it? As for the individual on HotPass. I have it, and Junior has no passion in his voice. In fact he isn't sure what the car is doing and when Lance tries to fix it and the car isn't perfect then Lance screwed it all up. Junior like the nation can't see himself as the problem, it is always someone elses fault.
    Oh, and as for Tony Sr. coming back? Not going to happen he didn't like the way Jr and Kelly kicked Teresa to the curb. The most precious thing in Dale Seniors life and they kicked it to the curb and Tony Sr. wants nothing to do with controling Juniors car once again.

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  21. Hello Tony Sr left DEI because he couldn't stand what she was doing to the company. Everyone thinks Dale is the problem I think they hold him and expect him to be on top everyweek. Thats just not always possible.I listin to him at track and on scanner when not. The feedback on your home scanner is different from the track one of the reasons why there is about a 30 second delay. Some races he give very good feed back others he does not. But if you listin to others drivers I hear alot worse Dale is far from being the worse in discribing his car. If they don't get it dialed in you can't make a mircle happen. Some races I don't even know how he handles his cars many other drivers would be spining out all the time as loose as they are at times.As I said and Dale has said and now Mr.H if you are not in contention for the championship just getting into the chase is not good enough. I think Dale will improve the remaining races without being in the chase. Does not mean he can't improve and win. As a driver I see him motivated and not distracted as people like to print he has people in place for all his busineess and does very little with it. Every person has a right to plan there furture and so does him I wish people would leave him alone he might just do ok without everyone always bashing him all the time. And his driving stats speak for themselfs not to bad a resume he has. And I'm sure it will increase before he calls it quits

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