RICHMOND, Va. — JR Motorsports and competition director Tony Eury Sr. have parted ways, effective immediately.
Eury Sr., known as “Pops” throughout the industry, is team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s uncle. General manager Kelley Earnhardt-Miller said Friday the decision to split with Eury Sr. came during a hard conversation about team performance.
“The conversation Tony Sr. and I had was one of the most difficult I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “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.”
JR Motorsports has won nine Nationwide races, but none since Jamie McMurray’s win at Atlanta in 2010.
The team this year fields cars for Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt, and is winless on the season. Eury Sr.’s son, Tony Jr., is Patrick’s crew chief.
The organization in April put Bruce Cook on the pit box for Whitt in place of Eury Sr. as crew chief of the flagship No. 88 Chevrolet. Whitt responded with eight top-10 finishes in 19 races.
Eury Sr., meanwhile, oversaw the partial entry that Earnhardt and Ron Fellows have driven. That car finished fifth in three of its four races.
“I want what’s best for Dale Jr., Kelley, Tony Jr., and all those employees. I really do,” said Eury Sr. “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., who is 58, has been with JR Motorsports since 2007. He’s won 55 races in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series in a career that has spanned 28 years. He spent 21 years at Dale Earnhardt Inc., leading Earnhardt Jr. to the Nationwide titles in 1998 and 1999.
“I can’t think of anyone who has impacted my career and development as a driver more than Tony Sr.,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I know my dad ultimately put me in the Nationwide Series car back in the ’90s, but Tony Sr. was the one who convinced him to do it. He was with me through two Nationwide Series championships and five full seasons as a Cup driver.
“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.”