Homestead: Evernham, Mayfield - Dodge interview

RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports) COMMENT ON TONY STEWART GOING AFTER HIS SECOND TITLE "Anytime you win a championship in a series that's as difficult and competitive as ours, it's an accomplishment that you can make a career...

RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports)

COMMENT ON TONY STEWART GOING AFTER HIS SECOND TITLE "Anytime you win a championship in a series that's as difficult and competitive as ours, it's an accomplishment that you can make a career out of. Then when you win two, I think it establishes you more so, certainly for the Gibbs organization to have won it with Bobby and Tony and now on the verge winning it again with Tony. To say they're one of the premiere organizations in the sport does a lot of things. It puts more confidence in your drivers and your people. It actually brings your real estate values on your cars up a little higher. It says that your infrastructure that you have in place is strong, championship caliber and you'll probably win more championships in the future. With Gibbs on the eve of possibly winning the third championship, I think it says a lot about the whole organization. I'm sitting here thinking what am I doing here? These guys already have four championships between them. It's certainly a goal of Evernham Motorsports to watch more what Roush and Gibbs are doing because once you start to repeat you have really taken your spot as one of the premiere organizations.

COMMENT ON MANUFACTURER PARITY "I agree with Jack (Roush) and Doug (Duchart) on the people side of things. The sport is very competitive and certainly the differences are in the people. As the cars get closer and closer, smaller differences make a big difference. As we know the Dodge is very different in the nose area compared to the other cars. Right now we're trying to test by using a 2004 Dodge, which is a closer match to the other models, whether or not that's our issue.

I do agree it does come down to people as any team does. With the cars being as close as they are, you don't have to be that far off to be a good ways off in the field. The new nose we used in 2005 is very different than the other models. We're trying to look a little bit closer to see if that is the problem. We also have made the internal changes as well, so we've taken a two-prong approach to figure out why the red cars have not been running lately.

COMMENT ON LIMITING NUMBER OF TEAMS ONE MAN CAN OWN "It's hard for me to have an opinion on it being we're a new company. I also believe that probably the best thing for the sport would be not to have three or four owners control all the cars. In fairness to what Jack and Rick have built over the years as businessmen and racers, it's not fair to penalize them for working within the rules, and we all know how I feel about rule changes. If what NASCAR wants to accomplish is to let people like me to come in and be competitive, then we need to maybe manage the rules we race under a little bit better so the cost can contain. If Jack and Rick want to have 10 teams at that point, the rules would be in such a way that they would not have a huge advantage over someone who only had two or three teams. I think the responsibility lies in how we manage the sport going forward, not in how many cars somebody has."

COMMENT ON CARS FOR NEXT SEASON "I don't know anything about their new cars, so they very well might have it figured out, but any time you do make a change there certainly is a learning period going forward. We thought we had ours handled. Hopefully they'll go through what we've been doing through this year and make it easy on us."

ADDITIONAL COMMENT ON TONY STEWART "I think Tony Stewart is on the verge of being what everybody thought he could be. He may well win four, five or six championships. He's matured. When you win more than one championship, you take on a different place in history than somebody who has won just one. If he does it or if Jimmie Johnson doesn't do it, a lot of times it's because of something they cannot control. It's because of a crash, tires, a broken part in the engine. Ryan Newman could win multiple. Nowadays whoever wins the championship is the person who doesn't struggle at a certain point. In fairness to Tony, if Tony wins the championship he does deserve to win it because he's outrun everybody when it counted. I don't know Tony, but from an outsider's perspective, an owner's perspective, a fan's perspective I see a mature Tony focusing his talent and using more of his talent to get what he wants. Again, he's been the best this year and deserves. It's nice to see someone with that potential achieving those goals. If you win races the sport is going to market for you. I admire a guy that's not out marketing himself as much as he's trying to make his car fast. I think Tony is concentrating on winning races other than being out trying to market himself. The sport's got too many self promoters in it, so it's good to see someone winning races who's not a self promoter."

OVERALL COMMENT ON THE 2005 SEASON "We got off base this year. There's no doubt about that. I think every sports team goes through a period where they're not performing like they want and you've got to go back and look at what went on. I think we've been pretty level this year, and I think it's because I've been trying to go off other people's philosophies other than my own. I'm not saying I'm the smartest guy in the world, but in the end somebody's got to lead it. We did have a lot of changes this year. We switched to our own chassis. We switched to the 2005 Dodge and I really changed the way I have my teams structured to fit in more with the NASCAR model. None of those things worked for me. I can't sit here and tell you if it's right or wrong, but I'm going to work as hard as I can every day to do the best that I can and in the end the results will tell me if I did the right thing or not. The results were telling me absolutely when my cars were running 25th and we leveled off as much as we did in the fourth quarter of the season, then what I was doing wasn't right. Coming to the track knowing you're not going to run good is the worse feeling in the world. Coming to the track knowing you might not run good but you might run really good, I'll take that over knowing you're going to run bad."

A LOT OF TEAMS HAD PROBLEMS IN 2005 "I know that, but I've got to handle the part that I can handle and let Dodge handle the part they can handle. I think we could have run better with what we had, and that's the part I have to fix. We won two of three races that Dodge won, we got a car in the top 10, we won poles, we won races in the Busch car, we started another team and brought in other sponsors. We've got all these things going on. You won the pit crew championship. How can you possibly say you had a bad year? I'm not saying we had a bad year. We didn't perform up to our expectations. Finishing ninth or 10th in the points is not good enough. Could we do it again next year if we left everything the same? Probably, but it's not good enough. We came into this to win championships and that's our goal. I don't know if we can win it next year with our new lineup, but I do know we couldn't win it this year with what we had."

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

"We want to get all three teams working together like they need to be. We kinda got away from that this year. I'm a team player and Ray knows that. I can go down there right now and talk to the guys who used to be on the 19 and there's no hard feelings. It's just a matter of reuniting everything. It's going to help Kasey and all the guys on the 91.

"What went right we were real consistent and we had a lot of good things going, but we still weren't where we needed to be. Even though we made the Chase again, and we knew that, but once we made the Chase for three weeks in a row we were running good but we'd put on four when everybody else put on two or whatever and we got behind. Once we got behind we had to start building for next year and not really worry about it anymore. If we had gone out and won two races, we still wouldn't have won the championship. So the last few weeks we've been trying to build for next year.

"|Winning at Michigan was a surprise and highlight this year, but the highlight of the season right now is the change we just made. I think it's going to be good for Evernham Motorsports. It's going to be exciting for the future because it gives us a whole different way to look at our cars. I think the team effort is better now than it's ever been.

"The way Ray's got everything laid out right now has got to be better than just taking a shot in the dark at things. There's more to it than just the basic, elementary fundamentals of racing. We've been trying to do this all year, but we didn't have the whole group working on the same page. We do now, and I feel like it's going to be the right way to go. If it is the right way to go, it'll be big.

"We want to be in eighth place at the end of this weekend. It looks like a big deal with the 19. All my guys are gone, but all the 9 car guys are gone. They're going to the 10. All we're doing is switching things around. I'm as happy as I've ever been with the guys I'm with now. When you get in The Chase you want to win the championship obviously, but I see bigger and better things in our future. We can't let one season take away from the big picture. We all know we weren't running good enough this year to win the championship, but there's nothing to say we can't run good enough next year to win it."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson