Junior and Kyle Busch Go To War With Words
By Nick Bromberg
Count Kyle Busch as one of the people who doesn’t necessarily think that switching crew chiefs is going to help Dale Earnhardt Jr. have immediate success.
Busch worked with Lance McGrew, Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief, in 2004 when he was driving in what’s now known as the Nationwide Series.
“To be honest with you, besides that (Lance McGrew)’s got his hands full having to deal with what’s going on and if (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. doesn’t run well then he’s going to be the problem again. It’s never (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. — it’s always the crew chief.”
In his press conference on Friday, Earnhardt Jr. brushed off Busch’s criticism.
“That doesn’t really surprise me, what Kyle says. He’s always had a chip on his shoulder for me. I expect any time he gets an opportunity to throw a jab in there, he’s going to do it. That’s just his personality,” Earnhardt Jr. said.
Jeff Burton said that he felt Tony Eury Jr. took a lot of heat for Junior’s struggles.
“I have a lot of respect for Tony Eury, Jr. I’ve seen him be part of making an awful lot of race cars go fast, including the cars that (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. was driving, if you go back just two years ago there were an awful lot of races that (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. had a chance to win and competed at a very high level and had problems,” Burton said.
“I think that Tony Eury, Jr. — I just hold him in high regard. I have seen what he’s been able to do. I think the fans have been way hard on him and I feel bad for him about that. At the same time, (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. can get it done too. For whatever reason it wasn’t working and sometimes you just have to make a change.”
Earnhardt Jr. replaced Busch at Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, and while Busch has flourished at Joe Gibbs Racing, winning 11 races, Junior has had the worst performance of the four drivers currently at Hendrick Motorsports, winning just once in 48 races with Eury Jr. as his crew chief.
Teammate Jimmie Johnson defended both Eury Jr. and Earnhardt Jr., saying that their struggles definitely weren’t because of a lack of commitment.
“It’s a tough environment for Tony Jr. and Dale Jr. to work as hard as they have and to not get the results and everything that spins off of that,” Johnson said.
Johnson even jokingly took note of Junior’s punctuality at the team debrief meetings.
“Dale Jr. is on time to those meetings, and that’s a pretty big statement, on a funny note. But on a real note, I’ve seen a great commitment out of both of them. Before they worked at Hendrick, the rumors were around that maybe there isn’t the focus or the commitment,” Johnson said.
“And all that stuff is BS. Both of those guys are extremely committed and extremely focused on what they’re doing. And that’s what makes this so tough. When the results aren’t there and the effort is there, it’s a hard world to live in.”4 Comments