Hendrick Motorsports has announced the demotion of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., to the research and development team. The pair posted one victory in 48 races together with Hendrick Motorsports, and Eury will be replaced by team manager Brian Whitesell for the Autism Speaks 400. Starting June 7, Lance McGrew will be the interim crew chief for the No. 88 Chevrolet team.
Eury is Dale Jr.'s first cousin and has served as Earnhardt's crew chief dating back to their days together with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. One win over the span of 48 races was enough for the boss, Rick Hendrick, to pull the plug on the duo's racing relationship. Eury and Junior posted the aforementioned win, one pole, 19 top-10 finishes and 11 top-fives in their time together under the Hendrick umbrella.
For the race at The Monster Mile at Dover, Del., this weekend, Whitesell will serve as the crew chief for the No. 88 team. Beginning with the June 7 Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway (Long Pond, Pa.), the 41-year-old McGrew will take over as the interim crew chief, presumably for the remainder of the season.
To his credit, McGrew has one victory in the Sprint Cup Series, as a crew chief with Brian Vickers in the 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega, Ala. He and Vickers also claimed the 2003 Nationwide Series championship. As recently as May 9 at Darlington, S.C., McGrew led Sprint Cup Series rookie Brad Keselowski to a seventh-place finish in the Southern 500.
McGrew and Earnhardt have worked together before. In 2008, they ran three Nationwide Series races together. The pair posted two top-10 finishes and a 15th-place finish March 8 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Through 12 points races, Earnhardt ranks 19th in the standings and boasts a lowly 21.3 average finish. He has shown flashes of his former self at times this year, most notably finishing second at the Aaron's 499 and eighth at the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500. Junior has only one DNF, which left him in 39th place at the Auto Club 500, and a season-worst 40th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 this past weekend was the final straw.
Fantasy owners can only hope their likely top driver will turn the corner going forward. Earnhardt has a checkered history at Dover, and there is little reason to race him this week. He has been better at Pocono, so you should look to get him in your lineup come June 7. Beyond the Pocono 500, it will be a week-to-week decision for you, so check back with KFFL.com's fantasy NASCAR rankings.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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