DEI taps Andrews to lead No. 1 team

Dale Earnhardt Inc., announced Friday that it has hired Paul Andrews to serve as crew chief for the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet with Steve Park. Andrews will begin working with the No. 1 team immediately, as the team prepares for Saturday's Winston...

Dale Earnhardt Inc., announced Friday that it has hired Paul Andrews to serve as crew chief for the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet with Steve Park. Andrews will begin working with the No. 1 team immediately, as the team prepares for Saturday's Winston Open at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Andrews, 42, most recently worked at Penske-Kranefuss Racing with Jeremy Mayfield. He had been crew chief with that team since December, 1996. Before that, he spent nine seasons with the team formed by the late Alan Kulwicki. Andrews and Kulwicki combined to win five races and the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship.

He won four more races with that team after Geoffrey Bodine purchased it from Kulwicki's estate. Andrews notched his 10th career victory last year with Mayfield at Pocono Raceway.

"Things happen very quickly in this sport and I'm not just talking about the action on the track," Andrews said. "One of the first phone calls on Wednesday was from the Pennzoil team. I visited DEI Wednesday and talked to Dale for a long time and he made me feel wanted again. There is no doubt he has built a first-class operation. All of the ingredients to succeed are here. We have a strong team, a good young driver and the finest in equipment and facilities.

"We're communicating well, we're running good. We've only run a few laps, but they had a good test here and I had a good test here with another team. It's been a good mix. We've been throwing in a few little things here and there to try to make things better, and we've been improving. So we're real excited about it."

Park was pleased with the move -- and relieved to have a permanent crew chief after Philippe Lopez' departure last week and Steve Hmiel's stint as interim crew chief.

"It's not all settled yet, but Paul's the guy that's gonna be able to settle things I think," Park said. "He'll work with a lot of the good guys we have already, and just kind of get us back on the right track, get us organized, and really build the confidence back in all the guys on the team -- give us the confidence not only from a driver's standpoint but from a team standpoint to get back to running where we need to run, and that's up front.

"He just keeps impressing me from the first time I met him until today. He came to work for us at 9 o'clock last night, and the first thing he wanted to do was he wanted to be at Charlotte. He wanted to get here, he wanted to start working. He didn't want to upset the apple cart and just go in there and start making changes. He knew that we had tested here and run decent. But he wanted to jump right in and get working with the guys and working with me in the Winston Open. It's a non-point race, so it's a little more casual atmosphere and it gives him the opportunity to work with us before we have to race for more Winston Cup points in the (Coca-Cola) 600.

"This business is all about chemistry and communication, and I think if you look at Paul's record it's pretty evident he has enjoyed a lot of success with young drivers and our Pennzoil team certainly plans to help him continue that record. I feel pretty fortunate to have Paul as my crew chief. I think he can help make us a pretty consistent force in this sport."

Andrews faces some significant challenges in his new role. He's joining a second-year team in midseason, with a driver who has yet to make a full season's worth of NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts. But there's also the switch to a new make -- and a new model next year to boot. Andrews, who has worked only with Ford teams in his tenure as a crew chief, has some trepidation about the changes, but is looking forward to them.

"I don't know. We'll have to see on that," Andrews said of trying to get a handle on the Monte Carlo. "I don't know if I can answer that one yet. I've been with Ford for a long time obviously, and it was kind of a heartbreak to have to swap, but I'm real excited about swapping, and just being with this organization. Working with Steve is gonna be a great opportunity for myself and everybody here. I think we're gonna end up being successful.

"I'm really excited about getting into the wind tunnel with the new Monte Carlos, and try to see what I can do to help 'em out and make things better."

Andrews was an obvious choice for the team, according to Ty Norris, DEI's director of motorsports.

"Sometimes things happen for a reason, and the timing couldn't have been any more perfect for DEI," Norris said. "Paul's record speaks volumes about his ability to lead a team. He has won 10 races with three different drivers and a Winston Cup championship, and not many people can say that. DEI was built by a champion and we have to fill it with champions, and that's what Paul is."

Andrews replaces Lopez, who resigned May 11. Steve Hmiel served as crew chief for the No. 1 Chevrolet at Richmond last week, but will now resume his duties as DEI's technical director. Lopez has since joined Haas-Carter Motorsports, where he is now crew chief of the No. 66 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford driven by three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip.

DEI is the 3rd team for which Andrews has been crew chief since ascending to the position in 1988. It is just his 4th NASCAR Winston Cup Series team.

Peter Sospenzo will head the competition side of Penske-Kranefuss Racing starting with The Winston this weekend, following Andrews' release. Sospeno, 42, a veteran crew chief, joined Penske-Kranefuss Racing in December, 1997. He has been serving as car chief.

Born in Bangor, Maine, Andrews was raised in Monroe, La. He and his wife, Evelyn, live in Harrisburg, N.C., and are the parents of two boys, Timothy and Troy.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeremy Mayfield , Steve Park , Geoffrey Bodine , Alan Kulwicki