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Earnhardt changes crew chiefs

May 25, 2005 at 9:21 AM

MOORESVILLE, N.C., May 25 (UPI) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a new crew chief beginning with the Coca-Cola 500 this weekend.

Crew Chief Pete Rondeau stepped down Tuesday after holding the post for just 11 races. Earnhardt hasn't won a Nextel Cup race this year with just three top-five finishes. He is in 11th place in the Nextel Cup standings, 229 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

He was third at the season-opening Daytona 500, but has done no better than 15th in the last seven races.

Steve Hmiel will be crew chief on an interim basis. No timetable was announced for a permanent replacement for Rondeau.

"We are capable of consistently winning and are focused on that as a company," said Richie Gilmore, vice president of motorsports for Dale Earnhardt Inc., in a statement Tuesday. "We are going to concentrate our efforts on improved results with the No. 8 car."

Rondeau will continue with DEI in another unnamed capacity.

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