Jeff Gordon Yearns for the Return of Ray Evernham
They are one of the most successful driver-crew chief combinations in NASCAR history; they first paired in 1993, when Gordon entered the Sprint Cup series.
Ray Evernham on top of the pit box and Jeff Gordon behind the wheel for Hendrick Motorsports was a scary team for other drivers on the track. The two won 47 races and three championships in the years that they were together: from 1993 to 2000.
"From the first day we ever worked together, boom! We hit it off. We had fun, we did good, he was what I wanted, and I was what he wanted," Evernham says.
But in late 1999, Evernham decided to leave Hendrick Motorsports to form his own Dodge team, Evernham Motorsports, when the manufacturer re-entered the sport. That, Jeff Gordon says, was the only time he ever considered leaving Hendrick Motorsports.
"The opportunity that came along that I could have maybe done something different [was] when Ray went with Dodge," Gordon said. "I sat down with [team owner] Rick [Hendrick] at that time and we talked, and that conversation went really well, and we proceeded forward sticking together.
"That's the only time I can think of in all the time I've been at Hendrick that there was ever even an outside chance of me thinking about what else is out there. Even at that time, I wasn't seriously pursuing the other opportunity."
- B/R Ticket Guide
Metropolitan Opera: Eugene Onegin
on Mon, Feb 9 at 8:00PM
Phantom of the Opera
on Mon, Feb 9 at 8:00PM
King Tut Exhibit - Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs
on Mon, Feb 9 at 10:00AM
Evernham won the 2002 Brickyard 400 with driver Bill Elliott. In 2004, he brought in driver Kasey Kahne, who would win his first race in 2005 and then six more in 2006, but since then, things have gone downhill.
Evernham's drivers rarely make the Chase for the Championship and haven't contended closely for one in a while.
Jeff Gordon, meanwhile, was paired with crew chief Robbie Loomis in 2000. A year later, Gordon won his fourth and most recent Cup. Since then, it's been close but no cigar, and Gordon now has a another crew chief in Steve Letarte.
Evernham has since semi-retired from the Sprint Cup Series, only playing a minimal role in the group that is now Richard Petty Motorsports. He decided to buy a local short track in North Carolina, saying he wanted to go back to his roots.
However, Jeff Gordon might try to lure him back to his roots of Hendrick Motorsports.
"With my experience with Ray being so positive in the past, I certainly wouldn't ever throw [the possibility of him returning to Hendrick] out," Gordon said. "It's not something that is happening, but it's not something that I'm going to ever say never would."
Maybe that's because Gordon is looking for all the help he can get. Since teammate Jimmie Johnson entered the Cup scene in 2002, Gordon hasn't won a championship.
He also missed the Chase in 2005. For the first time in his career he went winless last season.
"We've just always stayed great friends, and I admire him. I think he's a sharp guy, and he's done a lot, obviously, in this sport," Gordon says of Evernham. "We talk racing all the time, so he helps me now. It's just as a friend; it's not really anything serious. If it's an engineer, if it's a team manager, whatever options are out there for anybody, we always take them seriously."
Click here to view full article....