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Eury's departure wrenching for Earnhardt Jr

What went wrong?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't sure why his pairing with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. stopped working. But Earnhardt's level of commitment to making things better is unquestioned - he went as far as to tell team owner Rick Hendrick that he would leave the seat of the #88 Chevrolet if that's what it took.

Hendrick instead opted to remove Eury, Earnhardt's cousin, from the crew chief's position, breaking up a combination that hasn't enjoyed the success that Earnhardt, Hendrick and Eury had expected when Earnhardt and Eury came to Hendrick at the start of the 2008 season from family-founded Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Lance McGrew, who has worked with Earnhardt in the Nationwide Series, will serve as interim crew chief for the #88 team. McGrew will take over next weekend at Pocono. Team manager Brian Whitesell will serve as crew chief for Earnhardt this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

"We're cousins, but we're a lot like brothers," Earnhardt said Thursday during an appearance for Michigan International Speedway at Motor City Casino. "We've been sort of at odds with each other over the last couple of weeks.

"As a whole, our relationship is really, really strong, and we've always really had a great enthusiasm to work together. We came to Hendrick with a little bit of a risk. We felt a lot of pressure when we went to Rick to work, but we jumped in with both feet and really felt like we were going to make it happen. It's really, really disappointing that it didn't work out like we wanted."

Earnhardt hasn't won a race since June 2008 at Michigan. His only other victory for Hendrick came in his first competitive event with the organisation, the non-points February 2008 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

The tipping point came at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Monday, where Earnhardt fought an ill-handling car all afternoon and finished 40th, two laps down, in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600. Even so, Earnhardt struggled to identify the reasons why his relationship with Eury simply stopped working.

"That's really the confusing part," Earnhardt said. "I don't have no idea. Nothing's different than last year. It's kind of like looking down out of the boat into the lake, and you can only see about a foot, and the problem lays about six, seven, eight, 10 foot down, and you just can't see it. You know it's there.

"The only thing I can say was a little bit of an issue was, most of last year, we ran on right-front bump stops, and we were running good with that. And we had studied and learned that. During the middle of the season, (team-mate) Jimmie (Johnson) was trying some different stuff, and he started having some success with it.



Related Pictures

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Dale Earnhardt Jr - Hendrick Motorsport   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 11, 2016 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Hendrick Motorsports driver Johnson experienced an issue during qualifying.  He will go to a back-up car. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 6, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins. (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with his wife, Chandra and daughters Genevieve and Lydia Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, crosses the finish line for the victory Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins. (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS drives to victory Thursday, February 18, 2016 winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Can-Am Duel races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This is Earnhardt Jr.`s second consecutive Duel victory. He will start on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday`s Daytona 500 race. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, poses in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, rookie driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS captures the pole Sunday, February 14, 2016 during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Elliott, who takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon, is the youngest driver ever to win the pole. He will lead the pack at the start of the February 21 race. (Photo by HHP/ Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Taxslayer.com Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS advances to the Champion 4 with his second place finish. Harvick is joined with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field onto pit road due to rain during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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