Dale Earnhardt Jr. Says JR Motorsports Changes Won't Distract From NASCAR's Chase

Tony Eury Jr.'s departure from JR Motorsports was a "mutual" decision driven by a disagreement in the technical direction of the NASCAR Nationwide Series team, co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday.

Speaking to reporters at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. vowed not to let the personnel changes in his family's business distract him from the Chase.

Eury Jr. (a co-owner in the team as well as Danica Patrick's crew chief) was released on Monday, just over a week after his father, competition director Tony Eury Sr. was shown the door. The Eurys are Earnhardt Jr.'s cousin and uncle, respectively.

"It has been difficult to see these changes and it was not easy at all to sever the working relationship with Pops (Eury Sr.) or Tony Jr.," Earnhardt Jr. said. "But we're a company that wants to improve over what we have been doing and we're making some changes to see if we can make that happen."

The move was prompted, Earnhardt Jr. said, because Eury Jr. was unhappy with the direction JRM was heading. Having not won a race in two years, the Nationwide team is working to become more in line with Hendrick Motorsports and take advantage of the resources the Sprint Cup Series organization can offer the struggling team.

Earnhardt Jr. also said the firing of Eury Sr. had no bearing on Eury Jr.'s decision to leave JRM. According to Earnhardt Jr., the hope was everyone involved could work past the personnel changes – which included bringing in Ryan Pemberton as competition director – and the shift in philosophies and continue on.

The plan for JRM is to again run two cars on a full-time basis next season, with Earnhardt Jr. running three-to-five races in a third car. All this is, however, is contingent on sponsorship, which the team is actively pursuing for 2013. One of those sponsors won't be Go Daddy, as the company will be leaving JRM at the end of the season to move up to Sprint Cup along with driver Danica Patrick.

Ultimately, what Earnhardt Jr. wants is for his team to be self-sufficient and not require him to be involved on a day-to-day basis (his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, runs the team). And the upheaval within the organization comes at an unfortunate time for him, as he is attempting to win his first Cup championship.

"I do like to have heavy involvement within the company," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And I do have general concerns about the company even when things are going good. I like to be plugged in to what's going on and the direction we're going.

"At the same time, our Whiskey River businesses basically run themselves with the people we have in charge and doesn't require a lot of my attention. ... And the Nationwide program needs to do the same thing for me to be able to focus on my main priority, which is driving Cup cars, and be fluid and work as flawless as possible."

Earnhardt Jr. stressed he needs to keep his attention mainly on his Cup team and that will always have precedence over everything else.

"I am not in a position in my life to invest my focus with everything else I have going on," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Driving race cars are the priority. I won't ever overload myself – especially with the opportunity I have right now to win a championship. I won't let anything take away from that."

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