Hendrick Motor Sports shakes things up

Let me start by saying I don’t like when NASCAR Sprint Cup racing teams swap out crew chiefs for other crew chiefs already on the payroll. I am not talking about guys coming up from the Camping World Truck or Nationwide Series; I am talking about lateral moves made from one organizations cup team to another. On the surface the decision to mess with the driver/crew chief pairings at Hendrick is change for changes sake.

With that said starting in 2011 Mark Martin’s crew chief will be Lance McGrew who chiefed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2010. Alan Gustafson who had been paired with Martin now moves to the #24 team of Jeff Gordon, and Steve Letarte who had been with Gordon gets the hardest job of them all and takes over the #88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The bigger news is the team is moving the shops around as well, and this is where I think the overall improvement of the team will come from. Previously the #48 and #24 cars were built and maintained in one facility and the #5 and #88 cars were built in another. Now the #48 and #88 cars will be prepared in one and the #5 and #24 cars in the other. In keeping with tradition the men who work in those shops will build both cars, for both teams.

This is probably good news for Junior fans, as having his cars built by the folks who had been building the #48 and #24 cars should boost his performances. Dale Jr. is coming off one of his worst seasons in his cup career that saw him finish 21st in points. Junior did not win a race and had just 11 top ten finished so changes were in order. We will have to wait and see if those changes are successful.

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