Sports

Junior's crew chief earns job full time

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Lance McGrew had the interim tag removed from his crew-chief title Friday when Hendrick Motorsports said he will stay with Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season.

McGrew replaced Tony Eury Jr. in late May in an effort to save Earnhardt's sinking season. Team owner Rick Hendrick used the rest of the season to evaluate the No. 88 team and decided McGrew is the best fit for the long-term direction of NASCAR's most popular driver.

"I have total faith in Lance and what he's capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr.," Hendrick said. "There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he's handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and in his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren't going to faze him."

His first task is restoring Earnhardt's confidence. He's in the midst of a 53-race winless streak dating to last season and is 24th in the standings.

It caused Earnhardt to admit two weeks ago that he's questioning everything and has no idea how to get his success back on track.

"I was really surprised when I first started working with Dale that his confidence was beat down as much as it was," McGrew said. "I expected him to be a lot more positive and a lot more understanding of the situation. But since then, I've definitely seen a light in his eye and a strut in his step as he comes to the car.

"We don't have the bottom-line finishes to back up what I feel like we've started to achieve. We feel like the steps are in place to get there."

Earnhardt has just top-10 finishes since McGrew took over but has been running much better of late.

Montoya reaction. Juan Pablo Montoya on Bob Griese's "taco" remark:

"At the end of the day, it's not my responsibility, it is not our sport, it is completely out of my hands," Montoya said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "I never paid attention to the comment, and, as I said, I didn't really care. If they wanted to suspend him for what he did, it's their problem, not NASCAR or myself.

"I was good with (the remark.)"

Allmendinger given breathalyzer. NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger was required to take a breath test before Friday's practice at Talladega Superspeedway following his arrest on a drunken driving charge.

Allmendinger was arrested by Mooresville (N.C.) police early Thursday morning. He was placed on probation by NASCAR through the end of the season and said he had no problem when series officials asked him to take the test.

"I know what I've done," Allmendinger said. "I respect the punishment and everything that I have to do to gain the trust back of NASCAR and everybody that's out there racing with me. It's not the best feeling in the world, but at the same point, I respect that I have to go do it."

Waltrip black-flagged. NASCAR pulled Michael Waltrip off the track for aggressive driving Friday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Waltrip was warned to give Jimmie Johnson space during the final practice session as he bump-drafted behind Johnson's car. When Waltrip didn't let up, he was black-flagged for the final 30 minutes of practice.

Truck Series changes. NASCAR will allow double-file restarts in its Truck Series in 2010, part of a series of modifications coming to the circuit next year.

Teams will be able to add fuel and change tires on the same pit stop, and teams will be able to have a maximum of six crew members in the pits during the race, up from five this year.

NASCAR also will allow teams to use spec engines at tracks shorter than 1.25 miles in length.

Father-daughter history. Mike Wallace and Chrissy Wallace will make history when they become the first father-daughter pair to race in the same NASCAR event today in the Camping World Truck Series at Talladega.

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