The biggest story at JR Motorsports wasn't Danica Patrick this weekend. Well, not directly.
Shortly before the green flag at Richmond International Raceway for the Nationwide series race, news broke that longtime competition director – and sometimes crew chief – Tony Eury Sr. had left the company, an apparent amicable parting of ways. Some suggested the teams lack of success, most related to Patrick, was the reason.
Eury is a staple in the NASCAR industry, earning 55 wins in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series as a crew chief. Family ties to JR Motorsports meant business decisions were also family decisions. Earlier in the season, Eury was taken off the No. 88 pit box and replaced with Bruce Cook while Eury would oversee the part-time No. 5 team and competition. But the team has not performed
"The conversation Tony Sr. and I had was one of the most difficult I've ever been a part of," said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. "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."
Patrick, driver of the No. 7 GoDaddy car, will still remain under the guidance of Tony Eury Jr.
"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."
But Richmond was not kind to Patrick.
She was involved in two wrecks, once with Ryan Truex, driving for RAB Racing and once with Brad Sweet, someone she has often had run-ins with.
Patrick finished 32 laps down after the two spins. While she didn't take responsibility for running into Truex, she did say she "got too close" to Sweet.
Kevin Harvick took the win after a battle with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also had a battle with Elliott Sadler at one point. With a one point difference and only 10 weeks left in the season, every position matters.
Johanna Long made a big statement at the beginning of the race, passing drivers like Denny Hamlin for position. Her pit crew cost her positions and she eventually wrecked. Future stars of NASCAR like Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Blaney all were on point as they race for 2013 rides.
The circuit next heads to Chicagoland Speedway.
Farrah Kaye is a NASCAR columnist for CBS Local Sports and is a member of the NMPA. Her previous articles have appeared on SPEEDtv.com, newsweek.com and she holds a degree in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @Farrah_Kaye.
for more features.