By admin | July 14, 2009
By Richard Allen
Listening to the in-car radio of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. during the Lifelock.com 400 in Chicago revealed that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew do not speak the same language.
McGrew speaks in very specific, technical terms when discussing the adjustments needed for the car. In other words he speaks Hendrickese. Earnhardt, on the other hand, speaks in broad, general terms when discussing the handling of his car. In other words he speaks Juniorese.
At one point McGrew explained what changes he was about to make to the #88 Chevrolet. There was a long pause over the radio. “Are you still with us, Junior?” McGrew asked. A seemingly disinterested Junior finally responded, “Yeah, but I don’t really understand anything you just said.” At which point McGrew simply said, “We’re going to make it better for you.”
As cars were entering pit road McGrew then explained, “The #44 car is in front of you. He’ll peel off and then we’re 15 spaces past him.”
“I don’t understand any of this jargon,” Junior declared.
It’s easy to see why Hendrick was reluctant to remove Tony Eury, Jr. from Earnhardt’s pit box. He and Junior spoke the same language. However, the results simply weren’t there and a change had to be made.
McGrew was placed with Junior as a temporary fill-in until a permanent replacement could be found.
If Rick Hendrick wants Junior to succeed, and obviously he does, he must find a crew chief with the technical skills to make the car run well but who also speaks Juniorese to make the driver work properly.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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