Editorial

Ray Evernham makes changes to improve team
2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 1

by Pete McCole

January 24, 2006

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Ray Evernham
Dodge

Day one of the 23rd Annual NASCAR Nextel Cup Media Tour presented by Lowe’s Motor Speedway concluded on Monday with a visit to Evernham Motorsports’ sprawling race complex located in Statesville, NC.

2005 was a disappointing year for the team, despite putting both of his Cup teams in victory lane and driver Jeremy Mayfield making the 10-race Chase.  For The Nextel Cup for the second year in row, team owner Ray Evernham expected more, and plans to do more, beginning with sweeping changes in both his Nextel Cup and Busch Series operations.

“When goals aren’t met, the leader must look at his or her program and decide if in its current state it can achieve the goals that have been set, and if not then changes must be made,” said Evernham. “With most teams, it’s the lack of resources or not using the resources properly, either you have to make changes – changes have to happen if you are going to achieve maximum potential.”

To that end, Evernham has shifted several key teams members to different teams in hopes they can better share the knowledge and thought-processes throughout the organization, essentially moving the team of the no. 19 Dodge of Jeremy Mayfield over to the no. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne, eliminating the crew chief positions and instead adding a team director for each team.

The team director will head a three-person leadership structure consisting of a team director, car director and team engineer. All three will provide input into the construction and engineering of the teams cars.

“I could stand up here all night and tell you for hours what a great plan it is, and my critics can sit here and say why it isn’t going to work,” said Evernham. “Is it better? I guess we're going to have to wait and see. I only know if wasn’t good enough the way it was, it was not good enough to win races and championships, and I’m going to do everything I can to make it better and successful in the future.”

The former no. 91 team will move over to support Mayfield’s no. 19 Dodge, while the former no. 9 team will shift to Evernham’s new third team, the no. 10 Valvoline Dodge driven by Scott Riggs. The new team is part of a partnership with Valvoline known as Valvoline Evernham Racing, with Valvoline owning a stake in the team as well as a primary sponsorship role.

After making the Chase in eighth place, Mayfield and his team only cracked the top-10 three times over the final 10 races, and was well on their way to finishing tenth in the points had Kurt Busch’s suspension over the final two races not elevated them to ninth in the final standings.

“Our bad year was still ninth in the points and we get criticized for that,” said Mayfield. “We had a pretty decent year to be a bad year. Ray handled it well, yet he knew we needed to make changes. Ray has always been consistent on his word – we’re going to win the championship, we’re going to win races, we’re going to get it right.

“I’m telling you, that’s what’s going to happen. He’s not going to stop. We believe in him and we’re going to back him. We know we can get the job done if we get all the pieces to the puzzle in place.”

Evernham Motorsports will continue to partner with Akins Motorsports in 2006, supplying engines and technical support for Anthony Foyt IV and the no. 38 Great Clips Dodge.

Evernham will also field a Craftsman Truck Series team and a part time Busch Series team for development driver Erin Crocker as well as a part-time Busch Series effort with Mayfield, Riggs and Kahne sharing seat time.

The author can be contacted petem@autoracing1.com

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