By admin | February 9, 2011
By Richard Allen
A few days ago a person who is not a fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. asked me who I thought would win first, Junior or Mark Martin? The implication of the question was that either Junior or crew chief Lance McGrew was to blame for the recent failings of the #88 Chevrolet. And more, this year could possible offer the definitive proof.
At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Hendrick Motorsports announced a major shakeup of drivers and crew chiefs within their organization. In particular to this discussion, Juniorâ€™s former pit boss, McGrew, was moved to Martinâ€™s #5 team while Steve Letarte was sent to revive Earnhardtâ€™s career.
Many of â€˜Junior Nationâ€™ spent a great amount of website, message board and social network comment space blaming McGrew for their favorite driverâ€™s poor finishes. At the same time, Juniorâ€™s detractors used as much or more comment space inferring that it was the person in the driverâ€™s seat and not the person on top of the pit box who was at fault.
If Junior wins this season those who have barked that his crew chief was at fault will have been vindicated. This, in turn, will allow them bragging rights over those who have tormented them for years.
If Martin wins early in the season the Junior detractors will be out in full force to tease and torture. They will claim that a Martin victory shows that McGrew did know what he was doing and Junior was not driving the cars effectively enough.
Truth is, not much will be proven by either, neither or both drivers winning. Any success or failure may simply show that certain relationships between drivers and crew members are better than other relationships. But when the most popular driver in the sport is involved, reality doesnâ€™t very much matter.
My personal belief is that the crew chief and driver changes at Hendrick Motorsports will help all involved. I do, however, believe there is more to Juniorâ€™s failures over the past couple of seasons than just his crew. However, the more positive and upbeat Letarte may be what he needs to be more competitive. Just the same, the less argumentative and more determined Martin may be what Lance McGrew needs to make him successful.
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