LANCE MCGREW, INTERIM CREW CHIEF FOR NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, AND BRIAN WHITESELL, TEAM MANAGER FOR NO. 88 AND NO. 5 CHEVROLET TEAMS OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and ...
LANCE MCGREW, INTERIM CREW CHIEF FOR NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, AND BRIAN WHITESELL, TEAM MANAGER FOR NO. 88 AND NO. 5 CHEVROLET TEAMS OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the changes to the No. 88 team of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and their roles with the team.
WHITESELL: "Good morning. Thanks for taking a little time here for me to speak to you about what is going on with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and that crew chief role and getting things going. We'll give you a chance to talk to us. We also have Lance McGrew here. Lance will be taking care of Brad Keselowski this weekend but then he will be with Dale Jr. beginning next weekend in Pocono.
MCGREW: "Yes next week at Pocono we'll take the reigns of the No. 88 and see what we can do."
WITH ALL THAT HAS BEEN COMING ALONG WHAT WAS THE FINAL STRAW THAT PERPETUATED THE CHANGE?
WHITESELL: "The race at Charlotte, we did not get the result there that we were looking for. The decision was made by Mr. Hendrick that it was time for a change and that's the reason it happened this week. We were actually testing this week and were not in the shop but when we got back we were notified that we were going to do something different and I'll be taking care of things this weekend and like I said Lance will be doing it next week."
THIS IS NOT YOUR FIRST RODEO IN THIS KIND OF SITUATION WHEN YOU REPLACED RAY (EVERNHAM) WITH JEFF (GORDON) YOU WON A COUPLE OF RACES, HOW MUCH OF ALL THIS IS ABOUT THE PERSONALITITES?
WHITSELL: "I feel it was a substantial part. Tony (Eury) Jr. and the entire team is very talented. That part of it was under control. What wasn't working was we just weren't getting the results. The equipment is there and everything we needed was in place. There's no substantial differences in how the No. 88 is being run verses the other teams. So I do feel personalities and the fact of them being family may have been a factor. It was just time to do something different and now is the time to do it."
YOU'VE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH JUST ABOUT EVERY DRIVER IN HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS CHALLENGE? IS IT SOMETHING YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO AND IS A LITTLE DAUNTING?
MCGREW: "Well I don't know if any crew chief would sit here and tell you it's not a little daunting to have the most popular driver in your stable. Yes I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of different drivers and seeing a lot of different personalities. I believe it's going to be extremely challenging and its going to require a lot of work not so much on the equipment side but just on the personal side because I feel like you have to have a relationship with your driver and you have to have a relationship with your team in order to be successful. For me I'm not the most outgoing person in the whole world and obviously the media blitz is not exactly what I prefer to be doing right now. It's part of the job and it's something I'll have to work on as well."
ALL THESE YEARS AND ALL THESE ROLES YOU'VE HAD AT HENDRICK, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS SHIFT AND FOCUS THIS MANY RESOURCES AND MOVE THIS MANY PEOPLE FULL-TIME TO A TASK AS FOR THIS ONE?
WHITESELL: "Yes, I mean from time to time if a team is not performing well we'll do this. This one is just a little more publicized than normal. No, this is not really uncommon. It's just something we don't normally advertise and tell everybody exactly what we're doing. But for myself and Rex Stump to become involved and as we're going to do this weekend and continue to support Lance after that, that's common. Just like I said we just don't talk about it publicly a lot."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE COMMUNICATION THAT COMES FROM DALE JUNIOR TO THE CREW CHIEF AND BACK TO DALE JUNIOR? IS HE GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE HOW HE DOES THIS? ALSO TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH PRESSURE YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW TO ACCOMPLISH THE TASK.
MCGREW "It's hard to really say until we get involved. I was fortunate enough to get to work with Dale a couple of times last year in the Nationwide Series. We did a couple of races out of JR Motorsports while Chad Walters was on suspension. So I have had communication with him. I will probably ask different questions but it's just really hard to say until you get put in the situation. Like I said before obviously there is a lot of pressure here because it is Dale Jr. and because it is such a big deal. Constantly being under the microscope, having millions of people listen to what you say on the radio, obviously you have to be aware of that. As we grow together I believe the communication will become exactly what it needs to be very precise and proper."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO HIM?
MCGREW "I talked to him last night for the first time actually. Yeah."
JUNIOR TOLD US YESTERDAY THAT THE GUY THAT TAKES THE JOB GOING INTO 2010 IS EITHER COCKY, CONFIDENT AS HELL OR CRAZY, IS THAT THE REASON YOU GUYS ARE THE INTERIM CREW CHIEFS?
WHITESELL "I wouldn't say that's why we're listed as interim. I think whatever works in the situation and however those personalities match up I think people are surprised with how they interact with others and you never know exactly what is going to work. That's a big part of the reason for the change is to do something different. We don't know exactly what is going to work but we're going to make sure that something does. However whoever adjusts or adapts that's what we're going to work on in addition to working on the cars. I think that will work out. No, we don't know who that will be. It will just be the most qualified person we can find at that time."
I KNOW YOU ENJOY THE ROLE THAT HASN'T BROUGHT YOU TO THE TRACK EVERY WEEK, DO YOU WANT THIS JOB FULL TIME AND RICK SAID THAT THIS TEAM CAN STILL MAKE THE CHASE, IS THAT YOUR GOAL?
MCGREW: "Well ultimately when you're presented an opportunity like this you dive in and go. Ultimately that would be the goal, to make the Chase, to make a run for the championship this season. It would be landmark for that to happen as history shows where they are in points at this particular time. Nobody has come from as far back as Mark Martin to make the Chase and obviously he performed extremely well with the No. 5 team. So we're going to do a really good job of leaning on our teammates, getting good advice from the right people and we'll see how it goes from there. Obviously the performance on the track is the bottom line and that's what we're shooting to improve."
GIVEN THAT YOU SAID THE EQUIPMENT AND RESOURCES FOR THE NO. 88 HAVE BEEN THE SAME AS THE OTHER HENDRICK TEAMS, CAN TALK A BIT ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DRIVER AND THE RESULTS AT THE MOMENT AND IF YOU CAN SPECIFICALLY TALK ABOUT THE TWO MISSED PIT STOPS AT DAYTONA?
WHITESELL: "We did have those issues at Daytona and missed the pit box a couple of times. Sometimes its as simple as changing the sign in the pit box. Sometimes it's a matter of us just communicating better with him to let him know where that pit box is and talking him in and doing those things. I can't answer why he missed his pit box. Only he really knows why that was done. I think we need to give him a feel that he's looking for and that's part of the communication. That's part of the personality. That's a big part of what we're trying to make better. As far as him getting better, I feel like talent is exactly where it needs to be. We just need to respond with that and with the people and how we're doing things so that he can do his job without worrying if everything else is being taken care of."
COULD MORE CHANGES BE COMING WITH THIS? WHEN YOU LOOK AT THINGS RIGHT NOW YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINAL STRAW BUT OBVIOUSLY THERE HAS BEEN A PATTERN AND HAVE THERE BEEN SOME THINGS YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO IDENTIFY ALONG THE WAY AT SOME POINT YOU SAID THEY HAD TO BE CHANGED?
WHITESELL: "We always have been weekly looking at the performance of the group. What they're doing and reevaluating and going back next week. That's the one thing about this business is you reset the clock every Monday morning and you go again. So yes, each weekend we come home, we evaluate the pit crew, the road crew, the shop crew, are things getting done the way they need to get it done and we made changes this year. Tony (Eury) Jr. is not the first thing we've done. We've done some other personnel changes throughout the year. We're looking for a group of people that want to do this at a championship level. If there is a point where we feel that's not being done then we make those changes."
-credit: gm racing