By admin | March 29, 2009
By Richard Allen
To say the least it has been a tumultuous week for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team.
After days of speculation about the status of crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. the #88 crew answered the criticism of their leader by scoring their best finish of the 2009 season. Junior brought his Chevrolet home in the 8th spot at the Martinsville Speedway for only his second Top 10 of the year.
Last week in Bristol, Euryâ€™s effectiveness as pit boss for NASCARâ€™s most popular driver was brought into question by media and fans alike. Junior defended his cousin and crew chief which then turned the storm onto the driver himself.
The #88 team showed a good bit of resiliency both going into and during the Goodyâ€˜s Fast Pain Relief 500. Early in the race Earnhardt appeared doomed to suffer another poor finish. A shifter problem similar to one experienced earlier this season resurfaced. The shifter had to be held in place by a bungee cord during green flag runs for the rest of the day.
“I was calm because we’ve had it happen before, and I knew we could get a bungee cord on it,” Earnhardt said. “I just hated to lose all that track position. I knew we were going to have to put that bungee cord on there and lose a bunch of track position in the process. That hurt us pretty bad. But we were able to get something out of it.”
By salvaging a decent finishing position Earnhardt moved up three spots to 16th in the overall Sprint Cup points standings.
Perhaps more importantly, at least for one week he may have laid to rest the criticism that has hounded this team for the last several days.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
*Click below to check out my short animated film, “Racing Re-Cap: Martinsville”. Hopefully it will be good for a laugh.
The characters do not represent real people.
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