McGrew optimistic about Dale Jr's Chase chance in 2010

Everything in place on the team for the 88 to succeed in 2010, so will they?

1/13/10 in NASCAR   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

During the off season, teams take some time off to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with families, then get back to work, preparing for the Season Opener at Daytona, and beyond.

This year, Dale Earnhardt Jr has commented that he is really enjoying the off-season, and that's....encouraging.  I hope he took some time completely away from the race track, to go hunting or skeet shooting, or any number of pasttimes he has said he enjoys.  Let's hope with the break he will be ready to get back to racing for wins.

Lance McGrew has been at the shared garage of the 5 and the 88, getting the team meshing, working hard on ensuring Dale Jr has everything in place to win races in 2010.  Rick Hendrick announced earlier that his priority is to focus on the 88, the only team at HMS without a win last season, the only team with minimal (nonexistent) success in 2009.

The building that houses the two teams has become a two team garage, rather than a building that houses two separate teams.  The vision was to have a more cohesive unit, more like the 24 and 48 teams are, in their building.  Adjustments to the two teams have been made, with some of the engineering crew moving over to become primarily 88 crew members, all while keeping the over-the-wall gang intact.

A lot of the names are just that, names, and mean little even to those of us who are fans, but not in the garage with the teams on a daily basis.  However, one name popped up that Lance McGrew commented as being a very positive move for Dale Jr.  Chris Heroy was the Chief Engineer for the 5 team in 2009, and although he undoubtedly contributed a great deal to the five wins Mark Martin and his team put together last year, he has been moved to the 88 team.  His presence will allow Tom Stewart, last year's lead engineer on the 88, to stay home and work on future races, meaning the team should have information for the coming races well in advance.  Additionally, Dale has said that he likes working with Heroy, a more extroverted personality than Dale.  The two seem to mesh together really well, and that could be exactly what Dale needs to find success on the track.

Dale commented last year that he had found the most success in his career so far with Tony "Pops" Eury at the helm.  Pops is Dale's uncle and undoubtedly another father figure, someone Dale would respect and follow as an authority figure.  With Tony Jr., who is Dale's cousin, there was more of an equality.  Dale wouldn't blindly follow what Tony Jr told him, because he viewed him as an equal.  Lance sees this as another positive move, saying

"Dale commented on how much he enjoyed working with him," McGrew said. "Chris is just a real upbeat guy. That goes a long way when you're dealing with somebody introverted like Dale is. You've got to have strong characters around him."

It seems all the pieces are in place for a leap forward in 2010.  Is it?

Much is made of the need for Dale Jr to succeed.  He is called all number of names, a has been or never been, a no talent driver, and a marketing dream.  He is accused of riding on his daddy's coattails, and aspiring to be his daddy.  People love him just because of his name, and people hate him just because of his name.

Dale has had all kinds of projects on the go, some completely uninvolved with racing, such as Whiskey River, and others entirely racing related, such as the hiring of Danica Patrick to drive the no. 7 Nationwide car in 2010.  It has been said that he is spreading himself too thin, and that he needs to concentrate more on the racing. 

JR Motorsports is now owned by Rick Hendrick, Dale, his sister Kelley Earnhardt and cousin Tony Eury Jr.  He has, in effect, stepped back from that somewhat.  Whiskey River is successful and likely doesn't require his day to day input.  It seems Dale only has racing to concentrate on now, and hopefully that will be a good thing. 

I only hope he had enough of a break to allow him to refocus and prepare himself for the season to come, because if he isn't aching to get in the car and race, isn't chomping at the bit to fly around that track at better than a hundred miles an hour, it won't matter what moves HMS has made in the shop. 
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1/15/10   |   Diablorain   |   4425 respect

I have a feeling we will be seeing alot of Junior burnouts this season :)

1/14/10   |   Diablorain   |   4425 respect

Junior will be a contender this season.i see him doing very well....i say he makes the chase and finishes in the top 5

1/14/10   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

One month today until the Daytona 500.  No doubt the news about all the teams will start being amped up.  *snicker*  Here's hoping it's a great 2010.  Here's hoping for success beyond our wildest dreams for the 88 team and Dale Jr.  Here's hoping no one is seriously hurt or, God forbid, killed.

I'm ready to go racing!

1/13/10   |   Lizzo   |   324 respect

Same optimism as the last 2 years. I hope Mr. Hendrick gives him exactly what he promised Him and his Fans this year, his undivided attention. If that doesn't work, I do not see this relationship going into 2011.

Hendrick can give JR the moon and it won't mean anything unless JR is straight in his head about what needs to happen. Jr has posted some of the worst restarts I've seen in recent years. And how many times did he miss his pitbox last year for penaltys? Those are mental mistakes that can't happen. Losing his dad and trying to get right with Teresa and DEI has totally screwed his focus. John is on the money when he says this is make or break for JR as a driver. 

1/13/10   |   Bashfulblue   |   7 respect


1/13/10   |   bwfc2good4u   |   327 respect

I think Dale is drinking in the last chance saloon with HMS...I know he is a marketing dream but without Dale Rick Hendrick would manage just fine. If Dale doesn't achieve success this year (making the chase minimum with some race victories) then he and Rick will part company. I just hope for Dale's sake that he does achieve success this year. If these moves help Dale then we may be looking at a chase contending team, because I think even Jr's haters couldn't argue that he is a legitimate 25th place driver, but we have a long hard season ahead of us, and it's make or break for Dale

1/13/10   |   SnFlwr071s   |   13 respect

Lizzo wrote:
The last paragraph says it all. If he doesn't want to win more than anything, and if he isn't willing to put everything he has into driving his ass off, nothing will change. I would love to see him win some races, but I am still a skeptic.

I have to agree with you whole heartedly,. If Jr doesn't put aside all the drama and BS and get back to racing then he will be wasting everyone's time and money.

1/13/10   |   Lizzo   |   324 respect

The last paragraph says it all. If he doesn't want to win more than anything, and if he isn't willing to put everything he has into driving his ass off, nothing will change. I would love to see him win some races, but I am still a skeptic.