Furr-Ther Problems For Nadeau

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Crew chief Tony Furr has left Jerry Nadeau’s Hendrick Motorsports team to “pursue other opportunities” in Winston Cup, Hendrick general manager Jeff Turner announced Wednesday.

Furr will be replaced by Hendrick director of competition Ken Howes, effective for this weekend’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Furr has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 1998 and has been Nadeau’s crew chief the past two seasons, leading Nadeau to his first career victory back in 2000 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“There comes a time when you have to make a change, and that time has come,” Furr said. “I’ve enjoyed my years with Hendrick Motorsports and I regret leaving, but the decision was mutual after we sat down and evaluated the direction we were headed. It’s just time to move on.”

Nadeau joined Hendrick in 2000, but he and Terry Labonte have lagged behind Hendrick flagship driver Jeff Gordon. While Gordon has won nine races and the 2001 Winston Cup title over the past two years, Nadeau and Labonte have accounted for one victory.

Nadeau has come close on some other occasions, notably last year’s second race at Atlanta where he ran out of gas while leading on the last lap. But Nadeau’s performances have been streaky.

This season, following a 39th-place run at Martinsville Speedway that was cut short by overheating problems, Nadeau has even lagged behind Hendrick rookie Jimmie Johnson.

Nadeau is 25th in the Winston Cup points standings, with one top-10 finish.

“No one has worked harder than Tony to bring the No. 25 team to the level of performance we owe to our sponsors and fans,” HMS president John Hendrick said. “At times he’s had some of the best cars fielded by our organization. He’s a talented crew chief, and I have no doubt he will be successful.”

Howes, who overseas Hendrick’s four Winston Cup and two Busch Series teams, has been with the company for 17 years. He served as crew chief for the No. 25 team and driver Ken Schrader from 1992-95.

Hendrick’s No. 25 team has been beset with myriad troubles since it was formed in 1986 for Tim Richmond. Richmond won nine races in two years but had to quit driving because of health troubles. Schrader replaced Richmond in 1998, but after winning four races in his first four years was shut out the next five.

Ricky Craven took over in 1997 but was gone two seasons later after struggling to return from post-concussion syndrome. Wally Dallenbach didn’t succeed in the car either and was replaced by Nadeau.

While Gordon’s No. 24 team won 58 races and four titles and the No. 5 team – with Ricky Rudd preceeding Labonte – won 13 races and one title, the No. 25 has one victory over the last 10 years.

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