Hendrick Motorsports Shakes Up The Order
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, announced Tuesday that his four-car team is instituting a multi-team swap of crew chiefs.
The reason, Hendrick said in a statement, is a general lack of satisfaction with performance.
Steve Letarte, who has been crew chief for Jeff Gordon for the last five seasons, will move over to the team of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Lance McGrew, who has been on Earnhardt’s pit box since May of 2009, will be paired with Mark Martin next year.
Earnhardt has won just one Sprint Cup race since arriving at HMS in 2008. He qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship that season but finished 12th in the 12-driver field.
Alan Gustafson, who has been Martin’s crew chief the last two seasons, moves to Gordon’s team.
The only driver left unaffected is Jimmie Johnson, who, with crew chief Chad Knaus, just won his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship.
The other three drivers were winless, and only Gordon made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, finishing ninth in the final standings.
The slump comes a year after Johnson, Martin and Gordon swept the top three spots in the final series standings.
“This will improve us as an organization, across the board,” Hendrick said in the statement. “We had a championship season, but we weren’t where we wanted and needed to be with all four teams. We’ve made the right adjustments, and I’m excited to go racing with this lineup.”
In addition, the Gordon and Martin teams will be fielded out of the same facility, now known as the 5/24 shop. Earnhardt and Johnson will be in the 48/88 shop. Previously the 24 and 48 cars were built in the same building, and the 5 and 88 were together.
Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson, on a teleconference, re-asserted his desire to continue on with Hendrick and Knaus.
“I feel like I have my best chances at Hendrick Motorsports, with Chad Knaus as my crew chief,” he said.
Hendrick scheduled a Wednesday teleconference to discuss the changes in detail.
(This story will be updated after Wednesday’s press conference)4 Comments