RAY EVERNHAM , PRESIDENT AND CEO OF EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS "Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. I know we've been making a lot of announcements. I know that a lot of you have asked me questions about who's driving, who's driving, who's driving...
RAY EVERNHAM , PRESIDENT AND CEO OF EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS
"Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. I know we've been making a lot of announcements. I know that a lot of you have asked me questions about who's driving, who's driving, who's driving it. We've been working out some details where we're going to be very happy to finally get out one of the worst kept secrets in NASCAR. It takes time to put things together that you want to work out properly. And, as you know, I very, very pleased about my new association with Valvoline and the partnership in Valvoline Evernham Racing. It's been our goal to field a competitive, championship-caliber race team and, in the day of multi-car teams you have to be able to do that. I feel like we are prepared to go forward, certainly with Dodge's blessing and the blessing of our other partners. Our performance is number one, and number one in lubricant and automotive oil performance for many years has been Valvoline. So now I want to bring up our partner, who will be listed as car owner on the No. 10 Valvoline Dodge, Jim Rocco."
JIM ROCCO , VALVOLINE DESIGNATED TEAM OWNER
"Thanks everybody for showing up today. Like Ray said, this was one of the worst kept secrets in NASCAR, but it's not soup until we say it is, so we're going to make that announcement here. It's my pleasure right now to bring onto the stage the driver of the new Valvoline Evernham Racing No. 10 Dodge, Scott Riggs."
SCOTT RIGGS , DRIVER OF THE NO. 10 VALVOLINE DODGE CHARGER FOR THE 2006 SEASON
"The reason that this was the worst-kept secret is that everybody knew this, and it's been tough keeping this between myself, Valvoline and Evernham.
"Ray has always to me... well I've always looked up to him for having his first priority being performance. He's always been a proven winner. He was a winner as a driver, he was a winner, of course, of championships as a crew chief, and now as a car owner. I know where his heart is and I know it's an awesome ride for me to drive for someone who is all in terms of trying to find a way to win.
"My association with Valvoline, they've been great supporters of mine for two years now, and now to be able to put all of our resources together under one house and to be able to come over to Ray's organization. It's always been on the rise and it's always been growing, It should improve into a force to be reckoned with. I'm just proud to be a part of this and proud to be somewhere where you can say 'I drive an Evernham machine'. We're glad to go out there and improve ourselves as a team and hopefully become another strong team under the Evernham house."
Q: Is it true that Scott Riggs was considered for the No. 9 Dodge before Kasey Kahne was selected?
RAY EVERNHAM: "Yes, that is true. Scott and I actually talked once before about him possibly driving the No. 9 car. We weren't able to get together at that time, but we did remain friends. I've kept my eye on Scott and his career, and when this opportunity came up we really took the time to make sure it was the right thing for both of us. We spent a lot of time together, we talked several times, we talked about things like where he wanted to go, where I wanted to go. And right now, it's the perfect fit. Sometimes things are meant to be. I don't know why, maybe we weren't ready for each other the first time we could have gotten together. Right now, with this situation, it's actually a more perfect fit than it would have been the first time."
Q: What made you decide that this was the right move?
SCOTT RIGGS: "There were other opportunities that came forward this year, knowing that my contract with MBV was sort of coming to an end and I was going to have to renew or go somewhere else. I'm 34 years old and I feel like I still haven't proven what my capabilities are and how competitive I can be as a driver. I wanted to make sure I went somewhere that was on the way up, an organization that was strong enough and wide enough and deep enough to be able to, even if it was a new team, have no worries about the strength of the team. No worries about the strength of the organization. I just felt like I didn't have enough time or enough patience left if me to go with a team that would need years and years to get going to be a competitive team. I felt like that Evernham Motorsports is a place that is not only growing, but they are growing by leaps and bounds. To be as strong of a team as they are, and to be already showing the kind of success, and to be able to be as competitive as they've been able to be, especially in the last few years, to me that was the only place I could go that felt like a good enough spot to go.
Q: What kind of state of mind does this now give you for 2006?
RAY EVERNHAM: "We can go and focus on our performance now. It gives us good balance. We've got right now a very good group of drivers, crew chiefs and engineers and I think Scott complements that. Now I've talked with Jeremy a great deal about it and Kasey a great deal about it, and Scott's a perfect fit for that organization. Knowing that, we've got still a solid group of guys who are on a younger age demographic but they have a good amount of racing experience. One thing I like about having Scott come on board is he brings a little bit different perspective than some of the things that we've been doing. He's earned his way here, starting with motorcycles, to late model stock cars, up to the truck series, where he did a great job for Dodge, went on to have success and win races in Busch. Now, he's done a great job for Valvoline and Chevrolet in the Cup side. We see an awful lot of bright future there. Like when I had Bill full time, I feel like I have a good mix of drivers now who can help us develop cars and achieve goals faster.
Q: With the Valvoline deal for a minimum of 22 races, will the No. 10 car be full time?
RAY EVERNHAM: "We haven't set the total number of races yet with Valvoline, but we're working on a target. We're talking with a lot of people and we've got a lot of interest in this program. I know I keep bugging you with announcements all the time but there will be some more announcements coming shortly. But, this is a full-time race team that will run all of the races."
Q: Have you made any decision on what Bill Elliott is going to do next year?
RAY EVERNHAM: "Bill and I are talking about that right now. There will still be a research and development program at Evernham Motorsports. We still have to develop parts and pieces. Bill loves to test and he loves to drive. I don't know how much he wants to drive but he's very interested in working with the drivers. He's been testing with Erin Crocker and doing some things with her. He's going to be working with Scotty and Jeremy and Kasey. Bill will be a part of our program as long as I have one. How many races he wants to drive is going to be up to him.
Q: Is it your expectation he will do some Cup races next year?
RAY EVERNHAM: "I honestly don't know. We'll have to see what he wants to do as the end of the season gets closer. He didn't tell me he wasn't coming back full-time a few years ago until like August of that year, so we'll see."
Q: How do you think Scott Riggs will fit in the Evernham organization?
JIM ROCCO: "We've worked with Scott for several years and think he's got great talent and is a great representative for Valvoline with our customers. I think he'll learn a lot from Ray and will be a great fit for the new Valvoline Evernham Racing program. We're excited to have this announcement behind us so we can begin focusing on building the performance of this team."