After Dale Earnhardt Jr’s slow start to the season — one top 10, 19th in points — the team and crew chief Tony Eury Jr are starting to hear more and more criticism.
When Earnhardt Jr signed on with Hendrick Motorsports, people expected greatness. After one full season, people expect Jr to have adjusted to his new team and for the wins to start coming. But, that hasn’t happened thus far this season.
Instead, Jr has run in the teens, and hasn’t seriously contended for a win. As a result, Jr Nation has been calling for Eury’s head.
Ironically enough, Jr, not Eury, was not the one who made mistakes in the Daytona 500. And, faulty parts were to blame for the team’s poor performance in the Auto Club 500. So, maybe Eury is not to blame for the team’s struggles. Still, he gets the criticism because Jr Nation believes he is the weak link.
Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke out on behalf of his embattled crew cheif, saying:
The guy I feel bad for is Tony Jr. He gets criticized so bad. Everybody in this room…knows how smart of a guy he is, certainly knows he’s a good mechanic and a solid crew chief. … I’ll take the fall. I’d rather be crucified than him. Every time I read in the paper that people are on his case I feel like I’m sending my brother to jail for a crime I committed.
And now, the man himself — Rick Hendrick — did the same:
Right now Tony Jr. is our guy. I’m 100% behind this group. I have no intentions of making any [personnel] changes. … I have all intentions of making it better. These guys are working their butts off … and I have to believe in the next few weeks we’re going to see some real success out of that crowd.
The team met for three hours to discuss their performance and to try to figure out ways to improve. And Jr himself has vowed to workout more and diet better.
Time will tell if these were steps in the right direction, but it is a positive sign to see that the team, and the driver, are doing everything they can to get better. For now, that will have to do for Jr Nation.