Nationwide team shifts crew chiefs
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is off to a hot start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Now, his Nationwide Series team is making changes to gain more ground in that series as well.
NASCAR on FOX brings live coverage of the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. The green flag drops at 1 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Thursday, JR Motorsports general manager and co-owner Kelley Earnhardt-Miller announced that the crew chiefs on the Nos. 88 and 5 teams will change.
Bruce Cook is moving to the No. 88 team of Cole Whitt. Cook has been working with the third team, a part-time entry driven primarily by Dale Earnhardt Jr., while also helping the group's pair of full-time entries. Now, that role will go to Tony Eury Sr., who takes charge of the No. 5 team while also continuing his role as competition director. Tony Eury Jr.’s role as crew chief for Danica Patrick remains unchanged.
“Our teams have a tremendous responsibility not only to perform at the standards we set for ourselves but reflect the commitment to excellence of our sponsors,” Earnhardt-Miller said. “Our on-track performance isn’t meeting those standards, and we felt a change was necessary.”
Earnhardt Jr. will return to the Nationwide Series team at Texas Motor Speedway next weekend, with sponsorship from Degree Men. With the change, he'll be reunited with Eury Sr., with whom he won 15 Cup races between 2000 and 2004 as well as Nationwide Series championships in 1998 and 1999.
Through five races this season, Whitt has one top-five and two top-10 finishes. Whitt, a rookie driver from Alpine, Calif., is currently sixth in the series points standings. His best finish to date is a fourth at Daytona. JR Motorsports’ last win came with Jamie McMurray on Sept. 4, 2010.
“Both crew chiefs are very important to this process, and they are completely capable of elevating our teams back to where they are consistently competing for wins,” Earnhardt Miller said. “Bruce’s demeanor is probably more suitable in the developmental process of young drivers, and Tony Sr. has the experience and familiarity with Dale Jr. that can help get our 5 car to Victory Lane.”
Earnhardt Jr. has two races remaining on his 2012 Nationwide Series slate -- Texas on April 13 and Talladega on May 5. The No. 5 car could possibly compete in three to five more races with another driver.