Hendrick Motorsports made sweeping personnel changes in a stunning move announced Tuesday evening, swapping crew chiefs for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.
Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief will now be Steve Letarte, the enthusiastic young former Gordon crew chief. Gordon gets Mark Martin's old crew chief Alan Gustafson – known as one of the brightest minds in the garage – and Martin will be paired with Lance McGrew, who was with Earnhardt Jr. for the last year and a half (Earnhardt Jr. hinted Friday that he anticipated a crew chief change).
In addition, Hendrick announced that Earnhardt Jr.'s cars will now be fielded out of the same building as five-time champion Jimmie Johnson's. That means Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the same cars Johnson does.
Gordon and Martin's teams will be paired in the other building.
"This will improve us as an organization, across the board," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "We had a championship season, but we weren't where we wanted and needed to be with all four teams. We've made the right adjustments, and I'm excited to go racing with this lineup."
The changes are effective immediately, the team said.
Hendrick will be giving more details in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.