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The mediocre results came a year after Johnson, Martin and Gordon gave Hendrick an unprecedented sweep of the top three spots in the final points standings.

So Hendrick responded by moving everyone except Johnson and longtime crew chief Chad Knaus.

Earnhardt, who has just one victory in three seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, was paired with Gordon’s crew chief, Steve Letarte. Earnhardt moved into the same shop as Johnson and Knaus, and Hendrick believes Letarte’s strong personality will help rebuild the waning confidence of NASCAR’s most popular driver.

Gordon was teamed with Martin’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson.

Martin switched to Earnhardt’s crew chief, Lance McGrew.

Johnson’s team got an adjustment, too. Hendrick shook up Johnson’s entire pit crew in hopes of fixing the most noticeable chink in the defending champ’s armor.