Hendrick Motorsports announced today that Lance McGrew will remain crew chief for the No. 88 team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2010. McGrew took over the team on an interim basis from Tony Eury Jr. on May 28. Said owner Rick Hendrick, "I have total faith in Lance and what he’s capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr. There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he’s handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and in his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren’t going to faze him. He’s a strong-willed guy who will keep his eye on the ball and not settle."
Earnhardt and McGrew have produced only one top-5 and two top-10 finishes. The team’s average finish since McGrew took over is 22nd and it has dropped from 18th to 24th in the standings. Two weeks ago in Charlotte, Earnhardt Jr. spoke with the media about his frustrations with his slump and explained he needs a dictator calling the shots atop the pit box. Looks like McGrew is his dictator.
"Lance has been part of the solution, not the problem," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He’s tough, which is what I need, and we’ve really clicked in a short period of time. The communication has gotten better every practice and every race, and I know that’s going to keep improving. Having this decision behind us is really important, and now we can focus on the future instead of the past."
While Earnhardt is focused on the future, let’s take a brief look at McGrew’s past. The longtime Hendrick employee called the shots for Brian Vickers when he won the Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) championship in 2003. Working as a crew chief in all three series, McGrew has led Vickers, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Hendrick, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart to victory lane. He now hopes to add Dale Earnhardt Jr. to that list.
"The communication between Dale Jr. and I continues to improve every single week," said McGrew. "Both of us are 110-percent committed to the success of this team, and we’re going to do everything necessary to get the job done for Hendrick Motorsports, our sponsors and Dale’s fans."
With this announcement coming in Talladega, perhaps now is the best time to quiet the critics and prove this combination can get the job done. One of the best in the draft, Earnhardt Jr. has five wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, which is located in the heart of Earnhardt country.