* Elliott to run limited schedule in Evernham Motorsports Dodge
* Kahne succeeds Elliott as driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
* Baldwin joins Evernham as team director for Kahne's No. 9 Dodge team
* Evernham Engines to supply engines for Kahne's Busch Series Dodge
NEW YORK, (Dec. 4, 2003) -- Evernham Motorsports announced its lineup this morning for the 2004 NASCAR season. The lineup will include NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, who will run a reduced race schedule in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge; NASCAR Busch Series standout Kasey Kahne, who will succeed Elliott as the driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge; Jeremy Mayfield, who will continue as driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge; and Tommy Baldwin, who will join Evernham Motorsports as team director for the No. 9 Dodge team.
Elliott announced his intentions to run a limited schedule for several years and remain with Evernham Motorsports as mentor and coach to the team's drivers. Elliott's role will expand in a business capacity with Evernham Motorsports, lending his talent in a variety of endeavors on and off the track.
Details of Elliott's participation as an Evernham Motorsports Dodge driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series still are being finalized. Initial plans call for a limited schedule with Ray Evernham and director of competition Sammy Johns overseeing the on-track program for Elliott.
Elliott, the 1988 Winston Cup champion, also announced plans to include fan events in his 2004 schedule. In a show of appreciation for their unending support, Elliott is planning several celebrations to thank his loyal following for their devotion during his four decades of NASCAR competition. More details will follow once sponsorship is secured and Elliott's final schedule is determined.
"This decision involved a number of people and was something I took very seriously," said Elliott. "I said before that there were several people and several other important factors that I was going to consider before I made my decision. One of the most important was my family. My son Chase is becoming involved in racing and I want to be able to devote more time to these types of family activities. Based on that and all that's gone on over the course of the last several months, I feel the best option - for my family, my fans, NASCAR and Ray's organization - is to run a limited schedule. My new role at Evernham Motorsports will still allow me to give back to a sport and to the fans that have given me so much over the years."
Kasey Kahne assumes Elliott's role as driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge. In addition to running a full Nextel Cup schedule in the No. 9 Dodge, Kahne will compete full time in the NASCAR Busch Series next season. Evernham Engines will supply the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge with engines for 2004.
"It's an honor to succeed such a well-liked and successful champion as Bill Elliott," said Kahne. "I couldn't think of a better way to grow as a driver than working with a leader as great as Ray Evernham. I hope to continue the success that Ray, Bill and Jeremy have begun at Evernham Motorsports. Bill is called 'Awesome' for a reason, and knowing that I have him to go to for help and support will only make me a better driver."
Tommy Baldwin joins Evernham Motorsports as team director for Kahne's Cup operation.
"Ray and I have known each other for a while," said Baldwin. "The opportunity for us to work together never seemed to present itself like I wished it would have. I'm just glad it did this time. Our visions are the same, and I think you'll see that translate well on track."
As previously announced, Jeremy Mayfield remains in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge for Evernham Motorsports in 2004, with Kenny Francis returning as team director.
"Our deal has been done for a while, but it's nice to get everything else in place," said Mayfield. "I'm just glad that I will still be able to work with Bill. I've certainly learned a lot from him. I know Kasey will be a great teammate, and Evernham Motorsports will be as strong next season as we were at the end of this season."
Evernham is pleased that Elliott will remain with his organization.
"I'm fortunate that things have fallen into place like they have," said Evernham. "Bill and I worked closely to make sure we were taking this company in the right direction, but I also wanted to make sure that he had the space to really make the right decision for himself. In making that decision, I think we as an organization have made some strong personnel moves.
"Kasey Kahne is a bright, young star in this sport, and he will accomplish a lot with guidance from one of the best in the business. Tommy Baldwin is an asset, and I feel very lucky to have him on board. And, we have a solid base with Jeremy Mayfield and Kenny Francis returning as well. With these moves, we are on track with the vision I have for this company, and these additions only make us stronger as we move into 2004."