Evernham Charlotte interview 2001-05-18

RAY EVERNHAM (Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) NOTE: Evernham will spot for Bill Elliott in The Winston on Saturday night. "Eddie D'Hondt was the spotter. Until we find somebody that Bill is comfortable with, ...

RAY EVERNHAM (Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) NOTE: Evernham will spot for Bill Elliott in The Winston on Saturday night. "Eddie D'Hondt was the spotter. Until we find somebody that Bill is comfortable with, they're fairly comfortable with me spotting. I might be able to help Mike (crew chief Ford) from up there.

"We've been making a lot of changes, period. We're trying to learn a lot about the cars and bodies and motors. We've changed some things this week, so we're either going to be better or worse. I'm hoping we're going to be better, but we're really going to use this week to find out what we need for next week. We wanted to try some things with the cars and motors we haven't tried before.

"I'm not disappointed in the guys at all. I was disappointed when we won 13 races in 1998 because I felt we gave a couple away. The one thing I feel really good about this week, I feel like for the first time I see the system taking place that will make this a good race team. For a long time I couldn't even see we had so much going on. Now I see the people putting their heads together. I see the system being used. I see all the things happening that can make this a good race team.

"It might sound strange, but I've got to focus on being a two-team owner and not trying to worry about what springs and shocks are in both cars and what I can do to help them make it handle. Basically what I did this week was promote middle management. I put Sammy Johns with Patrick Donahue. Patrick is a great young crew chief, but he needed some experience. I put Sammy Johns (as team manager) over with Patrick. I made Mike Ford team manager and crew chief for the 9 team. Now they report directly to me. I empowered them to do their thing, and I'm going to concentrate on being a car owner and let those guys concentrate on making my cars go fast. I've got a really good engineer with Derek Jones. I've got a couple of great young crew chiefs and Sammy Johns leading our R&D and watching over the 19. I've got to let those guys do their thing and become a good car owner.

"Basically, Sammy is filling in for the things I was doing on the 19. Patrick needs somebody with experience to bounce some things off. Sammy is that guy. I'm going to concentrate more over the operation. Mike is what I was at the 24. Mike is now team manager and crew chief. Mike doesn't have anybody above him but me. One of the biggest things I had going for me at Hendrick Motorsports is I was in charge of my own team. I basically empowered those guys to be in charge of their team.

"You've got to make changes to go forward. When you have a small group of people, you can control everything. When you don't have a small group, and it goes to a large group, it has to be run more as a democracy. You have to give the people who are doing the job the power to do it. In this case, I felt like a lot of middle management wasn't good for my race team at this time. Our crew chiefs and our guys that work on the cars and our guys that build the motors now have more input into what actually goes on.

"I'll become more active as a car owner, doing the things a car owner should do and giving my people the tools to work with. I've got the race teams going. Now the next stage is building better cars and I've got to work closely with the car builders and the guys that put the bodies on to make sure that things get done and let the team guys worry more about the cars week to week. I'll be spending more time with Ronnie Hopkins and people like that.

"When we find someone Bill is comfortable with, I won't spot. I don't think my best position is in the spotter's tower, but this weekend that's where I'm needed most. I spotted for Bill and Casey a little bit at Daytona. I thought it went pretty good. We clicked pretty good, Bill and I. I like to spot. I feel like I can help. I do enjoy it. You need to be on pit road a little bit, but I need to let these guys do their thing. I need to let Mike work on his cars like he wants to work on 'em. I need to let Patrick and Sammy work on their cars the way they want to work on 'em. Now that the team is built, I've got to work on getting the performance up.

"It's been an unbelievable week. I feel really, really happy. I had some hard decisions I had to make this week. We're talking about Eddie D'Hondt and Ed Gusso, obviously. Ed Gusso, that was a mutual decision on both of our parts. It wasn't just like his job went away. That was a mutual decision from both of us. Actually, Ed is still employed by me. He's just taking a leave of absence.

"We need to get it going better, and to get it going better, we had to take a little different direction. If it doesn't work, I'll change it again. It could go in a real bad direction here. I'm looking at how well the people are working together and what their through processes are. I'm not looking at their finishes and performance. If you get the processes and systems working right and the people learning how to do things together right, the finishes will come.

"Too many people look at finishes. We went to Daytona and got the pole, but we really didn't have a good strong foundation. I feel like we're really starting to see some good teamwork and some guys working together analyzing problems and some good systems being put into place. That will eventually get us the equipment we need to get the job done.

"I'm looking at this as a five-year program. We're 11 or 12 races into a five-year program. I feel like we have accomplished an awful lot, but we're not anywhere near where we want to be. I think that's what makes this team so good. They don't care what they've done. All they care about is what they're going to do.

"That was pretty cool (12th-place finish at Richmond for Casey Atwood). That was what that team needed. I wish we could have got him a top 10, but he got hit and spun around and tore the car up a little bit. It probably wasn't as quick as it was, but that drive he made from 42nd to 13th or 14th was pretty impressive."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott
Teams Hendrick Motorsports