RAY EVERNHAM (Car owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) Evernham smashed the Dodge 500-day countdown clock Saturday morning. "I cannot believe we're here. It is a great honor to be here, and now it's time to get rid of that...
RAY EVERNHAM (Car owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) Evernham smashed the Dodge 500-day countdown clock Saturday morning. "I cannot believe we're here. It is a great honor to be here, and now it's time to get rid of that thing (clock). I'm going to use my sledgehammer than everybody autographed for me.
"It takes a lot of time to put a program together, and it was nice to be lucky enough to have that time, but it's great to be back to the race track. We're going to try to get through the rest of the day and get my drivers some time to get serious. There's been a lot of media, and it's been a lot of fun, but it's time to get serious.
"I have got 24 hours or more to go. We're still stitching that parachute, but we're about to get the rip cord out.
"You've got to focus on the Daytona 500. It is only one race, but it's a big race. We wanted to build a package that would be good at all the tracks, and I think we've done that. You want to be good at Daytona, but seven days after Daytona you have to race at Rockingham. Overall, I think the car was designed to run good on downforce tracks and at the superspeedways.
"We got here in 500 day and we've had some success. That says an awful lot about Dodge's commitment to the program. If you continue to have that kind of commitment and continue to follow it up with the effort some of these people put in, we'll be OK.
"Dodge all along has said all along that their one-team concept is something that's unique and it would make this program successful and it has. It made me very proud that all of the cars got in the race, and I felt really good to have one of our cars win a 125.
"I have got to find a little time to find some solitude to see if I can help my guys. I feel like I'm pretty good at reading weather and track conditions and the adjustments we have to make. I have got to put a little playbook together for the guys to use tomorrow. I'm going to have to find some time to do that. Hopefully I can find some quiet time tonight and maybe barbecue out with the family and make some notes.
"I'm going to start the day in the pits with the 9 car and work with (crew chief) Mike Ford. We'll be listening to Patrick (Donahue crew chief No. 19 Dodge Intrepid). I'll have both guys on my radio. If I have a good job giving them the playbook and if everything goes right I think they should be OK. If not, I'll be with whoever needs me most.
"It's been awhile (since I have had any quiet time). I have got to go find out what it is again. That's OK. I didn't do this to get quiet time. We did it to accomplish some goals. Sometimes you need a little time to think. Tomorrow will present some different conditions, and Daytona is still a tricky race track. A lot of strategy is going to come into play, and I want to make sure we're on top of that.
"It was neat to smash the clock, and I'm glad the Dodge people are happy and the people who have supported this program. Tomorrow is going to be a bigger day for us. We're here. We made it. Everyone has done a good job. The ceremonial breaking of the clock was just for some fun. We've got to get serious for tomorrow.
"I'm interested to see what's going to happen, but so is everybody else in the garage area, no matter what they're driving. It's the Daytona 500. We're anxious, but so is everybody else. It's been a great week. It's been great for Dodge. It's been different. It's been a great shot in the arm for NASCAR Winston Cup, and it's been a great shot in the arm for Dodge. It's an honor to be a part of the program, and now we've got to do the rest of our jobs and that's to complete the race tomorrow and make sure the cars are competitive.
"Bill and I are still learning one another. We're lucky to have him to a part of this program. At a place like Daytona or Talladega, he's certainly worth something and he can help our younger driver come along. Casey is a lot of fun. He's a very talented young man, and he did an awesome job Thursday getting his car into the race. When he gets a little more experience, I believe he's going to be one of the top names in the sport.
"As a big race fan, it's been a big honor for me to have my name associated with Petty, to have been able to work with those guys coming through this program. Richard and Kyle Petty have both been big Ray Evernham supporters. They gave me a place to work when we didn't even have a shop. Just to be able to team up with them has been an honor.
"I had more pressure worrying about getting Casey's car in the race than anything else. Pressure is different to different people. You have pressure when you're not prepared, and we're as prepared as we could be. We'll just have to accept whatever happens. I have been tossing and turning a lot at night, but I don't think that's from pressure. I think that's from excitement this week.
"I haven't been as high as I thought I might be. I'm usually pretty low key at the race track. I about cried like a baby the other day when the car sat on the pole and my mom called me. That was emotional. It's been a little bit up and down. I'm a little bit overwhelmed with what Dodge has delivered to this deal. Have you ever seen anything like this? It's amazing. To be a part of that, you feel like wow, am I really worth of all of this? You feel like you should be working harder. I feel like I should have gone home and been building cars or something rather than doing all this media and appearances. The emotion has been pretty tremendous.
"It's been a tough adjustment for me. When you're hands on and then you have to be hands off, and you're an advisor, it's a different role. I don't feel like I'm making a difference. That's why I was spotting for Casey the other day. I feel like I was making a difference. If I can help the guys in the pits and help them make one good call or something, then maybe I'll feel like I can make a difference again. If not, I'll have to see if Jay Signore will let me tune on the IROC cars a little bit. My two crew chiefs are doing a good job. I'm going to be in Bill's pit Sunday, and I'll be with Patrick on the radio."