As recently as last summer, it would have been hard to imagine Tony Eury Jr. ever working anywhere but JR Motorsports.
Despite the team's struggles, Eury Jr. was a co-owner of the company and a cousin of two other co-owners – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller. So it seemed he and father Tony Eury Sr. – the team's competition director – were JRM lifers.
But then Earnhardt Miller and Earnhardt Jr. chose to oust Eury Sr. – a decision Eury Jr. strongly disagreed with – and move the organization in a direction to better take advantage of its technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports.
A week later, Eury Jr. was gone.
After years aligned with Earnhardt Jr., Eury was suddenly on his own. His next move? On Monday, it was announced he'll be crew chief for David Stremme's No. 30 car at Swan Racing.
So what to make of the Eury Jr. news?
First, it's further proof new Swan Racing owner Brandon Davis is serious about building the team formerly known as Inception Motorsports. He already hired Steve Hmiel as competition director – who Eury Jr. used to work with at Dale Earnhardt Inc. – and has promised not to start-and-park next season.
Davis, who owns an independent gas and oil company, has done some driving himself. As a racer, he knows Sprint Cup Series competition can't be half-assed – or the team will be badly exposed.
That's promising for Stremme and fans of underdog teams. Acquiring veteran talent in any capacity is always good for a startup program.
"Tony Jr. has pretty much done it all from tire changer to crew chief," Hmiel said. "His experience and knowledge will be pivotal to the success of Swan Racing."
But is Eury Jr. the right man for the job? We won't know until he has some time atop the pit box. This will be Eury Jr.'s chance to break away from the Earnhardt Jr. ties and build his reputation on his own (though he has retained his ownership stake in JRM, according to a team spokesman).
Whatever the result, the team is already a far cry from the small group of crewmen which struggled to get Stremme into the races last season.
"The team has transformed itself virtually overnight," Stremme said. "It's hard to believe just how different this team is in such a short period of time. This is how you build success from the ground up; you hire quality people, put their experience to work and execute on race day."