By Brett Borden NASCAR Online HARRISBURG, N.C. (Sept. 29, 1999) Crew chief Ray Evernham collected 47 victories in over six seasons with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. One of the most successful driver/crew chief tandems in NASCAR Winston...
By Brett Borden NASCAR Online HARRISBURG, N.C. (Sept. 29, 1999)
Crew chief Ray Evernham collected 47 victories in over six seasons with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. One of the most successful driver/crew chief tandems in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history has officially come to an end.
Hendrick Motorsports has issued a release stating it has granted crew chief Ray Evernham a release from his contract, which was to run through 2006. Under the terms of an agreement reached this week, Evernham leaves the Hendrick Motorsports operation effective immediately. Brian Whitesell, who was the team's car chief, has been named Evernham's replacement.
"This was my idea, and I am thankful that Rick (Hendrick) was willing to work with me in finding a path toward a goal I have of running my own operation," Evernham said.
With Evernham making the calls in the pits, driver Jeff Gordon has won 47 races inthe past six seasons and three of the past four NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships.
"I'm also thankful that (Hendrick) enabled me to work with Jeff Gordon, who is an incredible winner and may be the best talent the sport has ever seen, as well as our Rainbow Warriors team and crew," Evernham said. "Jeff and that crew will be winning races for a long time to come."
Gordon has won five races this season with the help of Evernham and the Rainbow Warriors. But the team has suffered several DNFs (Did not finish),and has fallen 471 points off the pace set by Dale Jarrett. They are currently sixth in the standings.
"My first thought is to thank Ray," Gordon said. "He has contributed greatly to the success of the 24 team, and I wish him success in his future endeavors."
"Sometimes it is best to help someone with their ambitions, even if it may not be what you would hope at the time," Hendrick said. Hendrick, CEO of Hendrick Motorsports, said that he and his organization decided to "assist Ray with a lifelong dream which he shared with me of pursuing his own team."
Evernham, who began his career as a crew chief on the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division with owner Bill Davis and Gordon in 1991, joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1992 after working as a chassis specialist for Alan Kulwicki's NASCAR Winston Cup Series team."I was given a great opportunity to move up here at Hendrick," Evernham said. "I can't imagine working for a greater person or finer organization than Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports, and I know I have experienced the best environment possible here. There is no one else I would ever consider working for. "Also, I want to emphasize my personal admiration for John Hendrick,who did just an unbelievable job of helping me, the 24 team and the entire operation while Rick was unable to be here, battling his illness. The entire Hendrick family, in fact, is very special to me."
Whitesell has been assisting Evernham as an engineer for the 24 team, takes over the crew chief spot immediately."I have tremendous confidence in Brian and I'm looking forward to many more wins and more championships with him and our Rainbow Warriors team,"Gordon said. "We've got a great organization. I'm looking forward to the future."
"We have a lot of confidence in Brian, and especially important is the fact that Jeff Gordon does, also," Rick Hendrick said. "Brian has the respect of the entire Rainbow Warriors team. We are confident in his abilities because he has already proven himself to Jeff and to all of us.
"Ray has been a really outstanding contributor to our organization and we appreciate his work, his accomplishments and the importance he places on maintaining the best possible relations with Hendrick Motorsports."
Evernham, who was born on Aug. 26, 1957 in Red Bank, N.J., has been involved in motorsports for more than 20 years. He built and drove Modified Division cars from 1979 through '83, and again in 1991. Evernham and wife Mary have a son, Ray J.
Source: NASCAR Online