Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winners and losers in Hendrick crew swap

Well, who saw this coming? Rick Hendrick has announced significant changes within the organization that involves a trade of crew chiefs between Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Gordon will get Mark Martin's former crew chief, Alan Gustafson, while Gordon’s crew chief Steve Letarte will go over to Junior’s team.  Martin will get Junior's old crew chief Lance McGrew.  In addition, and perhaps most notable, the 24 and 88 will switch shops, meaning Earnhardt will be working more closely with Jimmie Johnson in 2011.

Who benefits the most from all this?  Without a doubt it has to be Gordon, who will get one of the younger, yet accomplished crew chief in Gustafson.  He will also no longer be in the shadow of Johnson’s team, which should benefit him.  With just one win in the past three seasons, Gordon was in dire need of a change and expect the results to improve dramatically.

On paper, it sounds like Junior got a really good deal.  He will be in the same shop as Johnson now, and Steve Letarte will be an upgrade at crew chief.  If you look more closely, however, Earnhardt will essentially be driving Gordon’s equipment from this year.  It certainly gives Junior Nation hope for 2011, but Letarte didn’t do much with one of the best drivers of all time.  With that said, what will he do for the third generation driver?

Mark Martin clearly got the worst end of the deal.  He stays in the “second string” shop and gets the worst crew chief in the organization.  The way I see it, McGrew and Martin are just keeping the seat warm for Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis when the join the organization in 2012.  The 5 team will be in for the longest year out of the Hendrick cars.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I am really loving your blog.