Dale Earnhardt Jr., winner of 18 career Sprint Cup races, has now stretched his winless streak at Hendrick Motorsports to 101 races, that's only part of the reason for the massive shakeup announced Tuesday, team owner Rick Hendrick said Wednesday.
"This was not a Dale Earnhardt ... this was not a move that we made -- this major a move -- because of Dale or his situation," Hendrick said Wednesday in a teleconference. "I'm excited about making all four teams better. We need to be better across the board. It was a move to make all four better."
It's hard to think that a racing juggernaut like Hendrick Motorsports, with five straight Sprint Cup championships in the history books and gunning for six in a row next year, might be going downhill.
But Hendrick said as much Wednesday in describing why he shuffled the drivers and crew chiefs among three of his teams and switched driver partners in the twin pairing arrangement he has for the four teams at the organization's sprawling Concord, N.C. complex.
"I think we just kind of got complacent and other teams were getting stronger and stronger, and we were just not where we needed to be," Hendrick said. "We just were off this year. The 48 was off. And we needed to make a lot of things better.