RAY EVERNHAM ON THE UPCOMING COCA-COLA 600 The Coca-Cola 600 has always been one of Ray Evernham's favorite races and Charlotte Motor Speedway one of his favorite tracks. He shared his thoughts about this year's event and offered some...
RAY EVERNHAM ON THE UPCOMING COCA-COLA 600
The Coca-Cola 600 has always been one of Ray Evernham's favorite races and Charlotte Motor Speedway one of his favorite tracks. He shared his thoughts about this year's event and offered some predictions on who might go to Victory Lane.
GIVEN ALL THE CHANGES NASCAR HAS MADE THIS YEAR, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL EFFECT THE COMPETITION IN THIS RACE?
It is going to be good. Charlotte always is a good race no matter what. If you look throughout the years we have had races up and down but all the Charlotte races have always been good. In my opinion, the length of the 600, the competition, and the way the track has changed always provides good racing. I think the spoiler has been a little bit better than the wing on the midsize tracks so I think you'll see the guys do a little bit more side by side racing. Charlotte is one of those tracks like Darlington. As a crew chief, I always liked going to the difficult tracks. Charlotte is a difficult track and I think that's why you'll see good racing there. It is difficult to keep a car handling all night and I think that's why you'll see a lot of passing.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE DOUBLE FILE RESTARTS WILL EFFECT THINGS?
They started with the All-Star race last year, which is why they did it So I think it is going to be good. All they can do now is make it better .
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL BE GOOD THERE THIS YEAR?
The Hendrick cars obviously. They'll go in order: Jeff [Gordon], Jimmie [Johnson], flip a coin, then Mark [Martin] and Junior [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] I believe the Gibbs cars will be good. You'll see Jamie McMurray be strong. He likes that place. The Childress cars are really good. Kasey Kahne is always good there. I don't think you'll see any surprises there. That's what will make it a good race. And those cars duking it out is what people pay to see.
SOME PEOPLE SAY THE RACE IS TOO LONG. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF THE RACE TO CHANGE THE FORMAT?
What makes some of the best races in the world what they are is because of the tradition like with the Baja 1000. The same goes for Charlotte. It is the Coca-Cola 600 or the World 600. That's what it's been. That's what it's always been. It's the tradition. If you shorten it, you're going to cheapen it. It is long but as a racer, I want to win the Coca-Cola 600 or the Southern 500 or the Daytona 500. It's tradition so I wouldn't change it. There have been a lot of changes in the sport that are good and some are not so good. But the bottom line is that they can't change too many things. I would believe that there are as many people out there who want to see the Coca-Cola 600 or World 600. I think there are many people who are okay with it being 600. People want it. It's the 600. It puts on another 100 miles. It puts the crew chiefs and the drivers and mechanics in a challenging position. The sport needs those extra challenges.
IS THIS A RACE YOU GREW UP WATCHING?
I couldn't. When I grew up there were telegraphs still being used. We could see Indy but we could only stock car racing on the Wide World of Sports, then you get Daytona, and then ESPN came along. But I was always racing by then. But the tradition of reading Stock Car Racing Magazine and reading about the World 600, you know it's a big big day. We need to keep that tradition. They don't change the length of LeMans. They don't change the length of the 24-hour race. And the World 600 should remain a 600.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE SEASON SHAKING OUT SO FAR?
I think it's good. I think it is really interesting. I think people have realized Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have some good challenges. Chad Knaus and Steve Latarte are exactly on track like they said they would be. Steve has got another year of experience under his belt. Jeff Gordon has recommitted mentally and physically, and believes it is his time to win. It is going to be tough. They are going to have trouble. Then you throw in wildcards like Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo or somebody like that. As the new Ford motor comes out, I'm sure the Fords will be stronger. The fans are getting one of the better race seasons this year. I think they're going to see what they're paying for. Great racers getting the job done. And crew chiefs who are really going to have to be on the ball.
-source: ray evernham PR