NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Hendrick Shakeup All About Chemistry; 48 Will Remain Intact

The massive shakeup at Hendrick Motorsports was not implemented to help just one team, Rick Hendrick said during a Wednesday morning teleconference. The move was designed to bring a team back from the brink of falling dangerously behind other teams.

While the move involves three of Hendrick’s four teams, the ten-time champion car owner left the 2010 title-winning No. 48 team alone and the remaining three teams largely intact. Race teams and cars will not move, Hendrick said, but rather the drivers would shift to their respective teams. Jeff Gordon will swap buildings with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who will inherit Gordon’s team and racecars. Gordon will move to Mark Martin’s former team, and Martin will Join Lance McGrew and the former No. 88 team.

Hendrick confirmed that talk of the changes started a few weeks ago at Texas and came to fruition this week, and that it’s all about chemistry. “The bodies, chassis, and engines are all the same,” noted Hendrick in pointing out that the team has struggled with the change from rear wing to spoiler earlier this year. “It had to be the chemistry.”

Hendrick notes that Earnhardt, Jr. and new crew chief Steve Letarte know each other well and participate in online sports together. “Stevie had insight into Junior that I didn’t see,” noted Hendrick. “Dale needs a guy he can communicate with…(Letarte) has tremendous people skills,” said Hendrick.

Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon will be paired with Alan Gustafson, a highly technical crew chief. Hendrick notes that at this point in Gordon’s career, that technical knowledge will pair well with Gordon’s. The owner also added that Mark Martin and Lance McGrew have worked together in the Nationwide Series and said, “We are not going to have a lame duck situation with Mark Martin,” noting that Martin will be reunited with some key members of his 2009 team, with whom Martin finished second in points. “Mark is not getting the short end of the stick. He’s going to get all the stick he wants,” Hendrick noted.

The changes are effective immediately.

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