Atlanta II: Evernham - Dodge Friday interview

Ray Evernham (CEO, Gillett Evernham Motorsports) ON PATRICK CARPENTIER "Patrick impressed us at Watkins Glen. Obviously Patrick is Canadian and we have a strong Canadian tie with Mr. Gillett right now. Things kept working where it didn't look...

Ray Evernham (CEO, Gillett Evernham Motorsports)

ON PATRICK CARPENTIER "Patrick impressed us at Watkins Glen. Obviously Patrick is Canadian and we have a strong Canadian tie with Mr. Gillett right now. Things kept working where it didn't look like Scott Riggs was going to be back for the next season. Quite honestly, there is just something about Patrick that impressed us. He impressed us so much that we took him to testing and he did well. We feel like he is a good racer. We're hoping because of his Canadian presence that it does some things to help create sponsorship. We really looked into his records when he drove open wheel cars. He has a pretty good record on the ovals. We hired him as a road racer but he is pretty fast on the ovals. He fit with our team. He just clicked with the guys. I know it is taking a risk on everybody's part but when you look out there you can either go hire guys, knowing where their performance level is at, or you can take a chance. That is the one thing that I like about Mr. Gillett is that he is like 'hey, let's take a chance.'

"We're going to work real hard to give Patrick what he needs. We are going to try to get him in a car more and more this year. We're trying to get him into some races. We're trying to surround him with veteran people. We have talked to people like Kenny Schrader. We have a lot of great plans. The neat thing about it is that we have a guy that really, really appreciates the opportunity. He is a home run with the media. The announcement they did in Canada was just phenomenal. Patrick has brought a little bit of spark to the organization and we're happy."

ON SIGNING WITH THE GILLETTS "It was something that had been coming. I think it was a little bit over a year ago. We talked about what was happening in the future. About a week after that I got a phone call and they said 'are you serious, are you really interested?' I really was looking at the handwriting on the wall. I was physically and mentally tired thinking about how I was going to handle all this stuff. I met with a broker I gave him criteria of a partner I was looking for and he put George Gillett and I together. George on paper was everything I was looking for. As we became friends [I realized] it was just incredible that you could get that. The further we go into this thing the happier I am with the Gillett family.

"I think he is a business guy first and a sports guy which is what I needed. They do have several car dealerships and they continue to grow. I think George at one time had a really neat car collection and he is building that up. More importantly the guy is a visionary. He surrounded himself with really good tactical people. He has the vision and he has some quality people to get those visions done. You will be hearing some really exciting things in the next two to three weeks. Everything that I asked for [from] being able to bring business and sponsorship opportunities, to grow the business and management side so I could work back on the competition side, they have done."

DO YOU THINK THE ONGOING TREND OF MERGERS IN NASCAR WILL CONTINUE TO SNOWBALL? "I do because most of the traditional people in this business are not big, giant marketing and advertising people. We are just not trained that way but the business has grown to that level. The only way we can continue to survive or be a part of it is if we partner with somebody. This sport has grown and it is going to continue to grow. I think bringing in partnerships like Gillett and some of the other people are going to help this sport continue to grow. As it grows, unfortunately it is not going to be totally run by people like me anymore. There will always be a place for us. But when I look at some of the things George is doing, [I think] I never would of thought of doing it that way and I would have been scared to death to do it - It is pretty cool watching those guys work."

HAS THE MERGER TAKEN A LOT OF PRESSURE OFF OF YOU? "It has taken a lot of pressure off in a lot of ways. When you're as intense as I am about competition and you're having a bad year, it is not good. On top of that when you're gambling with everything you've worked for your whole life, you feel if you don't do something you could lose it at any day. It has allowed me to take a little chips off the table and allowed me to concentrate on the things that I like. Plus, rest a little bit. I'm actually starting to take half a day, one day off a week and I like it. For the past 15 years it has been seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Eventually that catches up with you. They have shown me how to delegate. When you can delegate to someone that you have confidence in it really puts your mind at ease.

"I feel like our cars are starting to get a little bit better. We are qualifying better, we are running better. That is what I do. It's not that I have any magic it is just a matter of getting everybody working together and communicating again. I have a lot of fun doing that."

IS THERE A CONCERN THAT MONTOYA MADE THIS YEAR LOOK SO EASY THAT OTHER OPEN WHEEL DRIVERS MAY NOT BE A SUCCESSFUL AS HIM OFF THE BAT? "I said that last week. It is great that the open wheel guys are coming. There are some really talented guys. They all speak for themselves. But they should never underestimate the talent that Juan Pablo has. Juan Pablo is special. There are guys that walk around this garage area, the Gordon's, the Stewart's. I think Kyle Busch is one of the most talented drivers in the garage area. Juan Pablo is an extremely talented race car driver. He might of made it look easier for those guys. But those guys are all good race are drivers too. Open wheel drivers or anybody really should not think this is easy because Juan Pablo has done it. He is one of those guys that is just special."

DOES PATRICK CARPENTIER UNDERSTAND THAT? "Absolutely he does. He works hard at it. He understands it and he has been humble about it. What I like about him is that you don't want a guy that is so humble there are scared to death of it. He is not intimidated by it but he knows what he has got to do. He is working and focusing on the right things right now. That is what I like about him. I've always said that good race car drivers are smart. Patrick is right. He knows he has a huge challenge but he is not going to let it intimidate him. He has that inner confidence that he is going to get it done and I like that."

WHAT IS HE DOING TO PREPARE HIMSELF? "He is doing a lot of things physically. He is following us just about everywhere we go. He will be here this weekend. He is calling people, talking to people, spending a lot of time at the shop. He is doing some thing to put his life in order so he can spend 38 weekends with us. He is taking it pretty seriously."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TREND OF OPEN WHEEL DRIVERS IN THE SPORT? "I have always said that it does go in cycles. Sometimes everybody is hot on sprint car drivers and late model drivers. Now it's Indy car guys. Next week it could be motorcycle racers. But good drivers are good drivers and they come from all different series. We have had some great drivers from sprint cars, open wheel and late models. There are guys out there from across the country. Three or four years ago who would of heard of Denny Hamlin? The guys walks in and he is doing an awesome job. Kyle and Kurt Busch came out of legends cars. Those guys are out there. Right now the focus is on Indy car and single seater guys. I don't think we ever had the big stars come over here and do it full time and none of them had really been that successful. Now you're drawing the top stars and they're being somewhat successful.

"Our cars have become more identical and more based on engineering. Rather than having to have a notebook of what we did 20 years ago. The car now, the design, the tires, the way it's engineered you don't have to be an experienced Cup driver. You have to be a guy that has a good feel for a race car that can communicate."

HOW ARE THINGS COMING WITH YOUR DEVELPMENTS ON THE COT? "We are actually getting this stuff better. We are getting it better by working on aerodynamics, horsepower and handling. From 1949 to right now that is what people were working on. The problem that we got off of that is that we weren't working on the right things. With the COT car we are going to continue to work on understanding the aerodynamics. I think the horsepower is going to be even more critical because the cars are a lot more identical. We are going to have to work on getting all four tires to work. If we work on those things we should be as good as anybody."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Scott Riggs , Ray Evernham , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch