RICHMOND, Va. - Surprising news at Richmond, as JR Motorsports has announced that Tony Eury Sr., director of competition, and the company have agreed to part ways in what a press release called an "amicable" fashion.
Senior, known as "Pops," is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s uncle, but even that relationship couldn't save his job. The JR Motorsports teams simply have not competed on a high level; Cole Whitt is seventh and Danica Patrick is 10th in the Nationwide standings.
Still, Eury's pedigree (55 wins in the Sprint and Nationwide Series), longevity (28 years in NASCAR) and family connections made the move a surprise. The team has not won in more than two years; its last victory was in September 2010 with Jamie McMurray driving.
"The conversation Tony Sr. and I had was one of the most difficult I've ever been a part of," Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, said in a statement unusual for its revealing nature. "I believe Tony Sr.'s passion for the sport is exceeded only by his yearning to excel in it, and that itself became the issue that both he and I struggled with. At JR Motorsports we do this to win races and compete for championships, and lately we have not met that standard. Being the competitor that Tony Sr. is, I know that bothers him more than anyone." Kelley, Dale and Tony Eury Jr. are co-owners of the team.
"I want what's best for Dale Jr., Kelley, Tony Jr., and all those employees. I really do," Eury Sr. said in the statement. "We accomplished a lot in a short time, and nobody is prouder of that than I am. I'm not sure what's next for me, and I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to find out."
Eury Sr. was on the box for Earnhardt's two Nationwide series wins. "I can't think of anyone who has impacted my career and development as a driver more than Tony Sr.," Earnhardt said. "We won a lot of races together, and as much as he impacted my career as a race car driver, he means more to me on a personal level. He's done a lot for this organization, and I thank him for it."