Evernham still wants a role in NASCAR

Ray Evernham called "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio this past week after his name came up Monday [12-29] while we were talking about the reports that Elliott Sadler will be replaced by AJ Allmendinger in the #19 Dodges next season at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Evernham no longer has a major day-to-day role in the team he ran after leaving Hendrick Motorsports as Jeff Gordon's crew chief to help Dodge come back to big-time NASCAR competition. He sold most of his interest into the team to George Gillett and his family and has scaled back more and more over the past couple of years.

Evernham wanted to make sure it was clear that he's not down on NASCAR or racing. Evernham wants to be involved in racing. But as a team owner, he discovered that was a job he wasn't going to be able to do at a level he could feel good about. Evernham doesn't have a "good enough" switch. You're talking about a guy whose work as [Jeff] Gordon's crew chief help redefined the way Cup teams compete. Evernham and his "Rainbow Warriors" changed the game, helping bring specialization and a level of attention to detail the sport had never seen before. By the time they were done, Evernham and Gordon had three championships together and Evernham had established himself as one of the sport's greatest all-time crew chiefs. Evernham said Tuesday that "it will probably always haunt me" that he didn't win a championship as a team owner, but he's proud of what he helped build at GEM. He's not sure he agrees with everything that's being done there now, but he also said that it's no longer his call.

As for the situation with Sadler and Allmendinger, there wasn't much he could say. That's pretty much what has been going on with that story since it first surfaced over the weekend. Sadler signed a contract extension in May and my [Poole] hunch is that as lots of people wearing suits and carrying briefcases are discussing all of that everybody involved has been told to remain quiet until everybody's as happy as they're going to be. If I wanted to hype something Evernham said, I could use this quote: "When I left as a crew chief I said the only way I would come back in that job is to be Jeff Gordon's crew chief again." But that's not Evernham angling for Steve Letarte's job. It just means that Evernham isn't going to be a crew chief again just for the sake of having that title. For right now, Evernham is working on getting East Lincoln Speedway — the short track he recently bought — ready for a new season. He even got denim overalls, which is apparently the official working uniform of that track, for the job. More at Charlotte Observer

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