RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports) NOTE: Bill Elliott will compete in his first points race of the season in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Elliott will drive the No. 91 UAW-DaimlerChrysler NTC...
RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports)
NOTE: Bill Elliott will compete in his first points race of the season in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Elliott will drive the No. 91 UAW-DaimlerChrysler NTC Dodge with an Evernham Motorsports chassis, the first production in-house chassis built by Evernham Motorsports.
"This is our first production in-house chassis," Evernham said. "It's really pretty much the same. It's built by the NASCAR rules. You want to try to build your own cars if you can. To get an advantage, you want to keep it in-house. There's nothing trick about it. It's pretty much a production piece.
"Everybody on the team has had a lot of input with it. We've been developing it for more than a year, and Bill and Jeremy and all the team directors having been helping with it. Waiting to get all our technology together probably put it a year behind, but it was the right way to do it. We finally got all of our software and our engineering department really strong and stable. One side of me wanted to rush and get it done and the other side of me knew we were better off if I was patient. This is probably a year behind where I would have liked to debut it."
WILL THE NEW RULES COME INTO PLAY SUNDAY AT LVMS?
"I think the tires and spoiler will come into play, I just don't know how much. There was a lot of drop off in last year's race here, too. We'll see. It didn't seem to affect everybody at Rockingham, but it didn't in 1998 when they cut the spoilers, either. It was here when everything showed up, so we'll have to wait until after the race and see."
WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH KASEY KAHNE'S RUN AT ROCKINGHAM?
"I knew the speed was there, but it surprised me how calm he was and what a good job he did racing the racetrack. He didn't make rookie mistakes. That surprised me."
IS IT GOOD TO HAVE BILL ELLIOTT BACK ON THE TRACK?
"Yes, and I'd like to have him back for 10 races if anybody's got any money (for sponsorship)."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 UAW-DaimlerChrysler NTC Dodge)
"It's been great watching the races. It was the best decision I ever made. After watching Kasey at Rockingham, that just solidified where I'm at. Now that I'm back at the track, I'm ready to go racing. To tell you the truth, I know I made the right decision (by running a partial schedule in 2004). It's been great so far."
YOU INTRODUCED THE PRESIDENT AT DAYTONA. HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
"I just got asked to do it, and I did it. It went through Lesa France and the White House. We had talked about it on Tuesday and it changed every day. I didn't know if it was going to happen or not. I enjoyed it more than racing that day. Restrictor plate racing is so tough these days, and I really didn't miss that. It was a good deal from my standpoint. To have the opportunity to do that, it took away from not racing that day and made it a nice deal.
"We didn't talk much at Daytona, but when I went to the White House in December before the banquet, we spent a lot of time talking. He took several of us in the Oval Office, and we talked about different things in the Oval Office. I guess each president gets to decorate it and pick out certain things to put in there. He was explaining the pictures he had in there and what they meant to him and the carpet his wife picked out. I just perceive him as a real good guy. Right, wrong or indifferent, he makes a decision and sticks by his guns and he goes on down the road. Through all of it it was a good deal. I was nervous (introducing President Bush at Daytona). It was like qualifying for Bristol. You hold your breath until you do it. I told Lesa that if I passed out she'd have to pick me up when I went up to introduce him."
HOW'S YOUR SCHEDULE LOOK FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
"Right now, Vegas and Texas is it. I'd like to do more, but it depends on what Ray ends up doing and what we put together. UAW is on the car this weekend, and that'll be a great plug for them. I hope we can do some good for them."
COMMENT ON THE NEW CHASSIS
"We tested it out here, and that's what we're doing. I liked it real well. We're here to refine it and make things better and implement it into the 9 and 19."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU WORKED WITH KASEY?
"Kasey did a good job at Rockingham. He's got a lot of racing knowledge. I think a lot of people are forgetting that. He's got great equipment. He's a good kid, and he's got his act together. I think I might be able to throw a couple of things his way at some tracks. He's going to get to do it his way. I'm not in his face. If he has a question, I'll be there to answer. He's got a feel that he's got to work out with the car. When they were here testing they had been here two days. I came in at the end of the second day, and I couldn't really help him until I got on the track the next day. It's going to be an up and down deal. As well as he's done so far, I don't foresee him having a big problem."
ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RACE SUNDAY?
"We're here on a different agenda than the rest of the guys. We don't have to worry about points, and that makes a lot less pressure for us. We're here to run good. That's a part of the equation. This is a new group of guys together, and I'm a part of this new deal. I don't think it's going to be that difficult. We've got good equipment. Working out the new chassis might take a time or two, but the more we learn the better it'll be for the whole team."