TONY EURY, JR., CREW CHIEF NO. 25 GODADDY.COM IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed not working as Dale Earnhardt Jr's crew chief, working with Brad Keselowski and other topics. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING...
TONY EURY, JR., CREW CHIEF NO. 25 GODADDY.COM IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed not working as Dale Earnhardt Jr's crew chief, working with Brad Keselowski and other topics.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST SIX WEEKS?: "You know, just been chilling a lot. Kind of spending some time with the wife. I haven't done that in a real long time so kind of enjoying that. Been down at R & D (Research and Development) trying to learn what Rex (Stump, lead chassis engineer) and them do, what they expect me to do. Getting this team ready for Chicago because we have three more races after this. Those kind of things like that. Basically, I would say the first two or three weeks, I didn't even watch a race. It was really cool to just get away because I've never been able to do it before and I've enjoyed it, to be honest with you. But I'm glad to be back here at the race track because I get to see a lot of my friends and a lot of people that I've spent years and years with so it's going to be exciting."
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO TALK TO DALE EARNHARDT, JR.?: "We just let everything ease up. We sent a couple texts that first weekend. We talked on the phone and it was kind of emotional for both of us. In no way shape or form am I going to let this sport get in between me and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. It was a job, I enjoyed being around Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. - still do. He's family and we go deeper than this racing deal. I've always wanted him to have the opportunity, if he has to be with somebody else, if that brings him up a scale then I've always been for that. I'm just looking forward to working with Brad (Keselowski). Me and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. have plenty of hunts planned together and we're going to go do things outside of racing. To be honest with you, I don't think we really talk a whole lot of racing when we do talk. I think that's pretty cool."
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS WHEN EVERYTHING HAPPENED?: "I think it was mixed. In one shape and form it was like, 'Cool, I'm glad this is over with,' and the next one felt like I let my cousin down. I've done a lot for him, he's done a lot for me, but we enjoy racing together. I think a lot of people put him on a pedestal that he doesn't need to be on. They put a lot of pressure on him to be somebody that he's not going to be. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. is a great race car driver, but I just think that he's got so much pressure on him that he doesn't enjoy it right now. Hopefully, that's what I told him, 'Man, you just need to start enjoying yourself more,' and that's kind of where I was at. You get blasted in the media and you have to go home and my wife wouldn't even watch the race. You would come home and she would ask where we finished because she doesn't want to sit there and hear the negativity on it. I fought it for a long time and at some point in time you have to weigh it and ask if it's worth it. It wasn't and it took me a couple weeks to figure that out. Me and Brad (Keselowski) has talked and I am just looking forward to running a couple races with the GoDaddy car. Just glad Rick (Hendrick) put me in a position where I could have a little bit more fun and do a little bit more."
DO YOU FEEL SLIGHTED AT ALL OR DO YOU FEEL YOUR RELATIONSHIP HAD RUN ITS COURSE?: "I think it just kind of run its course. There's definitely some things that happened and evolved that brought us to this point. In general, it was time. There is no other way to put it. We just needed to try something different. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. is not getting any younger so let's give him the opportunity to work with somebody else and try something. Definitely the road we were going down, it wasn't a bed of roses so let's try something different. That's where it was at."
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND BRAD KESELOWSKI?: "Just coming to the race track and being able to enjoy yourself. It's kind of one of them deals where I think Brad's (Keselowski) pretty excited, we can take a lot more gambles, I can try things over here with him and I think he's got a lot of confidence because he knows my background and he's talked to Pops (Tony Eury, Sr.) a lot about me. Brad (Keselowski) and I have been to lunch several times and just talked. We've got nothing to lose and it all to gain. That's basically what we're looking at. We're just going to lay it out there and hopefully we can get him another win this year."
HOW MUCH PRESSURE HAS THERE BEEN ON BOTH YOU AND DALE EARNHARDT, JR.?: "That's the biggest thing is a lot of people don't know what goes on behind the scenes and how difficult it is. That was pretty cool to watch Pops (Tony Eury, Sr.) have that much emotion for both of us because when this whole deal started it was Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. and Pops and they wanted me and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. to go racing and we wanted to be the front of the company and them two wanted to retire and kick back and watch us. Losing Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. was a big hit on all three of us and we were trying everything we could to make Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. successful and it just wasn't enough. I kind of felt like I let everybody down to a point, but I don't know how to say it. It means a lot to me when the peers in this garage walk up to me and tell me that I am doing a great job and they're sorry to hear about what happened. These guys in here know what I'm about and what I can do -- that means more to me than anything else that will ever go on in my life. I'm satisfied with everything that I've done and the way it went down and just looking forward to something new, just to try something different."
DID YOU ALWAYS THINK THERE WERE BETTER TIMES COMING AROUND THE CORNER?: "I always looking around the corner toward the positive. I always looked at it that if I had to do it myself I would turn it around. That's one thing that you learn real quick is that you can't do it all by yourself, you have to be surrounded by good people and people that have faith in you, that believe in you and that's what makes a good race team in this garage. If there are two people that believe in you and the rest of them don't then you really don't have a whole lot going for you and it's an uphill battle. I think that was the chemistry we had with the eight car over at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated) was a lot of heart and soul in that team that believed in one another and picked up the next guy beside you and carry on and do whatever you could. I think that's what I kind of missed and I think this group of guys down here that I'm working with now, they seem like they rely on each other and really enjoying themselves and that's what I'm looking forward to again."
WHAT DID DALE EARNHARDT, JR. MEAN WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT THE PRIDE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU GETTING IN THE WAY?: "You both try so hard and when things didn't go right you just didn't want the other one to give up or didn't want to say something negative that might hurt the other one's feelings. I don't know, I've been down a roller coaster with him as far as communication. I've had it out and then the media has blasted me for having it out with him when we first started. Then we went to a more conservative role where we didn't say anything and we got blasted because we didn't talk enough. We finished Atlanta in 11th this year and the first thing you read in the paper is that the end was near because we weren't talking. You're like, 'Okay, so which way do they want it.' We basically quit talking on the radio because there were different ways we could do it. That's unfortunate that it had to come to that, but we still believed in one another and that's all that mattered."
IT DIDN'T HELP THAT YOU COULDN'T TALK TO EACH OTHER?: "It doesn't. I think that's the biggest thing that him and Lance (McGrew, crew chief) got going for them right now is that he is a lot more open with Lance (McGrew) and Lance hasn't got them chewing's yet to be able to be quiet -- they will be on the way, but that's a good thing. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. is just more open right now."
WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT IT WASN'T CLICKING THIS YEAR BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU?: "I think, my personal opinion, is that you guys put so much pressure on him after Daytona that Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. just basically had had enough. If you want to get down to it. We went to Daytona and had a shot at winning that race, had some problems on pit road, but we ain't going to slam Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. We're going to pick him up and say, 'Let's go to Vegas,' and we went to California and blew up so there's two negative weeks. You guys were all over him and it just brought him down. I don't think we had a strong enough finish to bring him back up so every week the hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper and it was like throwing a squirrel into a hole -- it's not coming out. So I will dig the other way to get away from it. Basically, I think that in a nut shell, that's it. It's unfortunate. If I could go over there right now and turn that team around, I would. We've tried our teammate's set-ups, we've tried our own set-ups, we've tried everything that we can imagine and when things are going our way then something happens. At the end of the day you still have the same result. We just have to get Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. having more fun right now and I think that's the biggest thing."
DO YOU THINK THERE IS MORE PRESSURE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BECAUSE DALE EARNHARDT JR. IS NOT THE NUMBER ONE DRIVER?: "There could be some merit to that -- no doubt. I had the privilege of Chad (Knaus) asking me to go down there with Jimmie (Johnson) to road race and I am going to tell you, Jimmie Johnson is a champion for a reason. There is no doubt about it. Jeff Gordon is the same way. Those guys are good and they have the equipment and the people that surround them at Hendrick Motorsports to be able to take care of that. That pressure gets to anybody. We just have to kind of chill out and let Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. do his thing and enjoy himself. Not saying to just slack off, but he's trying really hard and let's give him a break and let him do what he loves."
WAS THERE MORE PRESSURE ON YOU AFTER DAYTONA?: "I've had so much pressure on me from the word go that it didn't really bother me and that's what I told Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. What do you say? I have one of the most popular drivers out there that race fans expect to win every weekend and it's not possible in this garage. Jimmie Johnson, he can win, but nobody has won over 10 races in a year. That's the fact of the matter. The competition level is way high over here. One screw up on pit road, one dropped lug nut or something like that is going to cost you the race and if you don't have the whole act together then you're not going to win the race. A lot of times we didn't have the whole package, we just had part of it."
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO PROVE RIGHT NOW?: "Not really. I feel satisfied in everything I've done. Whether the people, the race fans, the media -- whether they believe it or don't like it or whatever, I feel very successful, I've won a bunch of races. I've done everything in this garage to some point. I've got nothing to prove, you know what I'm saying. Would it have been nice to win a Cup championship over here, yeah, it sure would have. I'm at an organization right now where I can be a part of one, whether I'm the leader of it or just being a part of it, it means something. To go out here and say that my goal this weekend is to out run Dale (Earnhardt) Jr, no. My job this weekend is to go out here and get Brad Keselowski in this race and get his best finish of the year."
IS THERE A REDEMPTION FACTOR IF BRAD KESELOWSKI DOES WELL?: "I expect us to do well. That's the deal. We're going to run good in this race, we're going to have fun and if that happens then I will just let people think what they want. Overall, it's all about Hendrick Motorsports right here and getting that driver some seat time and get some good finishes for GoDaddy."
WERE THE EXPECTATIONS EVEN HIGHER THAN YOU THOUGHT WHEN YOU GOT TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?: "Yeah, but you're sitting here with such great teammates around you that you really don't worry about it. I think you guys might have made more about it with us coming over here and having to win races and having to win 10 races a year. It's not going to happen. Last year we were pretty fortunate to be able to run as well as we did when we first got there. It's like I told Rick (Hendrick), I said, 'I went into the company last year with all the confidence in the world that however I needed to do it, I was going to do it and I wasn't going to lean on anybody to get set-ups and I would just use what knowledge I could learn and step forward.' As the season went on, I basically lost confidence in myself and my set-ups because we had trouble at some of Dale (Earnhardt) Jr's worst tracks during the summer and kicked myself because I wasn't staying to my plan or doing my deal. Some things that I did I knew was wrong. There are certain situations that I put myself in that I didn't know why I did that, but I did."
DO YOU THINK THE TEAM WOULD HAVE PERFORMED BETTER WITH NO MEDIA COVERAGE?: "I think at a point it would have been better. You flip on TV and that's all you see is Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. When that brand comes, that's part of it. You can only take so much. What can you say, you just have to keep trying. That's what this sport is all about is who wants to keep trying and who wants to keep digging and the ones that do that will succeed."
HOW MUCH PRESSURE HAS NASCAR PUT ON DALE EARNHARDT JR.?: "You open the newspaper, you go online -- I couldn't open up a paper because it would be an Earnhardt or a Eury, Jr. story somewhere and it's either, if we won the race it was great and if it wasn't then it was all negative. To a point, you just get tired of reading and you get tired of seeing it. No, I don't fault NASCAR. It's publicity for their sport, but there's a whole lot more going on than just us right now. That's why I say, that's just part of it. It's not the cure of all, but it would definitely help."
-credit: gm racing