Veteran NASCAR mechanic Jim Long has been hired as the crew chief for the Hendrick Motorsports Terry Labonte program. His main task is to turn the team around after this year's dismal season. Long 44, was a crew member of the 1986 Gary Nelson led team that won Hendrick his first major Winston Cup win.

In 2001, the two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte was the only Cup driver to compete in every event and not lead a single lap. He had only one top-five and three top-ten finishes in 36 starts. Labonte ended us the season 23rd in the standings.

Long, 44, first became involved in Winston Cup racing as a volunteer for J. D. Stacy in 1983. In 1985, he was hired by Robin Pemberton and Gary Nelson to work for Stavola Brothers Racing on the Bobby Allison team. Long also has worked for the Hendrick Motorsports' R & D team and its chassis department.

Long replaced Gary DeHart who has been promoted to the Hendrick research and development department. The rebuilding of the team will be a major project for Long. The goal of the Hendrick Motorsports team is to be back in the winner's circle.

"We're delighted to have someone with Jim's qualifications on board, but we're equally pleased that Gary is going to remain with us," Hendrick said.