RAY EVERNHAM (Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) "Jim Smith and I have gotten together to form a partnership with a new race team. Casey Atwood will drive that car. Jeremy Mayfield will move over to the 19 car and Bill ...
RAY EVERNHAM (Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"Jim Smith and I have gotten together to form a partnership with a new race team. Casey Atwood will drive that car. Jeremy Mayfield will move over to the 19 car and Bill (Elliott) will remain in the 9 car. Going forward, it's a positive move for Dodge, Evernham Motorsports, for Casey Atwood, Jeremy Mayfield and Bill Elliott. It's a way for us to get stronger.
Obviously there's a lot of competition out there and our ultimate goal short term is to win races, long term to win championships. This is the best strategy we could come up with to do that. I'm proud to be a partner with Jim Smith. He's the Dodge leading truck team. He won a bunch of races this year and knows how to championships. He's got 30 years experience racing. I'm going to handle the technical side and competition side of the race teams. People said you weren't going to do three teams. I'm kind of doing two and a half teams. What I didn't want to be involved in was taking on more of the business side. As many of you know, I don't even like doing that with my own teams. I'll handle the competition side and technical side of the new team and Jim will handle the business side. The cars will really be prepared the same way. It will be basically a three-car umbrella. All three cars will be identical. They'll run as teammates. The competition and performance of the cars will be my responsibility. The business side will be Jim's responsibility.
"We've agreed that we'll stick together and give Casey seat time, and I believe that that young man is a future Winston Cup champion. Myself, Jim Smith and Dodge and Bill Elliott and Jeremy Mayfield are committed to helping him get to that seat some day. I'm very proud of him as a young man, team player and I know that he came close to getting to victory lane last week and I know he's on his way there.
JIM SMITH (Owner Ultra Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I want to thank Dodge and Evernham Motorsports for this opportunity. A year ago I got a chance to own a Dodge truck team. Most of you know how we did last year. We won half the races. I think Ultra Motorsports has been given the greatest opportunity it could possibly have, a partnership with Evernham Motorsports, a partnership with Dodge. I've been in the Dodge family for a year. I know what they can do. I feel that this is going to be a very, very strong team. We're excited about getting ready for next year, and I'm excited about this young man (Casey Atwood). I really feel we're going to be very strong. The talent of Casey, I think everybody has seen this year, is second to none. He's an up and coming driver. I intend on giving him the best equipment that money can buy. I think what Dodge and Ray can bring to our team is the missing link that we need to be real successful.
"Ray and I have been talking for sometime. We've formed a new LLC corporation, which Ray and I jointly own which is separate from Evernham Motorsports. Ray is bringing the technical side to the business, and I think I have a lot to offer on the business side. I know a little bit about this sport, too. We're die hard racers. That's the bottom line. All we want to do is win. I think with this combination, all three teams are going to be better than they were in the past. I like dealing with youth. Youth is our future, and Casey is certainly the future with Dodge. I'd like to believe I'm the future for Dodge as well with Ray. It's going to be really exciting. We intend on winning races next year. We're going to stay with lucky 7. We're going to take the 7 back to the front in the days when it won a championship.
"We're talking to some people (about sponsorship). Hopefully we'll make an announcement in a few weeks. We're going racing next year. We've got all our ducks in a row thanks to the people involved. We're just looking forward to going to Daytona.
"People don't understand how important a manufacturer is to a race team. If you look at Ultra Motorsports two years ago, we were always a winning team. We were always a contender. We went to Dodge and became a dominant team. The support that Dodge gives you when you're dealing with two tenths of a second from first to last, it makes all the difference in the world. I expect this technology group to bring these three cars to the forefront. Bob (Wildberger) wanted me to be a Dodge guy from the beginning, but it was a new team a year ago, no parts, no pieces, we were concerned about getting truck motors. Bob said we just couldn't do it then. I got no support last year. The support is so underestimated in this business, and I couldn't say it more strongly than to look at what they've done for us in the truck series. That's what you've got to have, and that's what all the top teams have. They have that factory support, and that's what we're looking for."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I'm really looking forward to this. I had a pretty good year this year, but everyone knows I'm only 21 years old and I've got a lot to learn. This is just another way to keep that going. I'm looking forward to continuing my relationship with Ray. We've got a great relationship. I'm looking forward to my opportunity with Dodge and keeping it going with them. I really want to be with Ray for a long time, and I just want to devote as much as I can to making it a championship team one day. I'm looking forward to working with Jeremy and Bill. I've got a couple of good drivers I can ask questions and learn from. It's only going to make the whole deal better.
"I'm excited about bringing Jeremy on. It's just more I can learn from. I'm only 21, and I've got a lot to learn in this sport. I'm still with Ray, and I'm still with Dodge. It's going to make everything better. I've got a ton of faith in Ray. This is the person I want to drive for in Winston Cup or I'd still be in Busch. I trust in everything he does. He assures me that this is going to make everybody better. It's going to make me better as a driver and it's going to make his team better. I'm all in favor of it.
"I was close last week. A couple of different things could have happened and we would have won, but they didn't happen. We got beat. I'm happy about it. Ray still got his first win, and Bill got his first win in awhile. I couldn't be more happy for 'em. I was more upset about losing second place than I was losing the lead. I wanted to bring it home 1-2, but it was a good weekend. I got a good lead, and there wasn't many laps to go. If something didn't happen, I think we had it, but it did and that's the way racing goes.