Dale Earnhardt Jr: “That derailed me for a few years.”
Tony Eury Sr is the uncle to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Together, the worked on the #8 machine in the NASCAR Cup Series at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. It brought success for the both of them. Until one day, they couldn’t stand each other.
Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Eury Sr were a dream team. To this day, Dale Earnhardt has regret on breakup and wonders what could have been.
If Dale Earnhardt Jr had do-over in life?
“I would have done everything I could have to prevented busting up me and the Eury’s,” Dale Earnhardt Jr reminisced via the Dale Jr Download.
“There was no one person responsible for that. And there were times during that discussion that I was agreeing with the change to do something different.”
“That derailed me for a few years. We just come off of a 6 win season. Stupid! The dumbest, stupidest friggin’ thing.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr collected 6 wins, 1131 laps led, 21 top-10’s and was 5th in the final standings in their final season together. The next year, Dale Jr collected a single win, 169 laps led, 13 top-10’s and was 21st in final standings.
“I think back now and go, ‘How and the hell was I at the end of Homestead so freakin’ upset that I didn’t want to work with them anymore.’ After winning 6 races and literally just winning at Phoenix a couple weeks before that.”
“We’re in Phoenix smilin’ having fun, winning races. At Homestead, we were fightin’ so much and just ignoring the shit out of each other. Doing everything we can to be just assholes. Then, over the off-season I was a-ok with just making a change.”
“When I see them today and it’s not always in person. Like, I’ll see pictures of him or hear somebody talkin’ about him. Or see him on the CARS Tour event broadcast.”
“The first thing that comes across my mind is, ‘Man, I had a few more good years left with those guys.’ Especially, Tony Sr. I mean, Tony Sr and Tony Jr both came here. They both had great success at JR Motorsports. They were very talented.”
Tony Eury Sr worked as the competition director for JR Motorsports until 2012. They parted ways in that area as well, sighting performance issues.
“We had more years left in the cup series and more success to be had. I wish that I had been smart enough to do everything I could to prevent that breakup.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr ran 180 races with the guidance of Tony Eury Sr on the pit box. Over the course of 6 seasons, they won 15 races together.
Following the 2004 season, they split. In the next 13 years, Dale Earnhardt Jr went to victory lane another 11 times. However, it took him 448 races to do it.
What hurt you more? The Eury split or the Car of Tomorrow?
“The Eury change was the first real wheel falling off of the cart,” Dale Earnhardt Jr explains.
“I didn’t think the COT was my enemy. Nobody liked it. The COT wasn’t responsible for me struggling. I hated the splitter. I still hate it today. But, I won races with the splitter.”
“For me, to be successful, it took a unique situation. I think it does for every driver. You don’t put a great driver with a great crew chief and hit the play button and win races. You’re searching for that unique match. I had it a couple times and there’s a couple times I didn’t.”
“He was always great at telling me to shut up. Tony Sr was really intimidating and nobody wanted to get their butt chewed by that man. He had a way of keeping me in check.”
“When me and Tony Jr got together, we had a lot of fun. We did some good things. But, I think we both missed ‘Pops’ [Eury Sr].”