All-time crew chief selected by media

MEDIA SELECTS RAY EVERNHAM AS NASCAR'S TOP ALL-TIME CREW CHIEF Selection helps kick-off new DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race Award, which begins at Martinsville DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2006) -- Ray Evernham, who won three NASCAR NEXTEL...

MEDIA SELECTS RAY EVERNHAM AS NASCAR'S TOP ALL-TIME CREW CHIEF

Selection helps kick-off new DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race Award, which begins at Martinsville

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2006) -- Ray Evernham, who won three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championships in the 1990s as crew chief for Jeff Gordon, has been selected as NASCAR's top all-time crew chief in a vote by a national motorsports media contingent.

Evernham's selection was announced Friday at Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway, in conjunction with the announcement of the new NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race contingency award for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The $5,600 per-race award will go into effect with Sunday's running of the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville. It will be presented weekly to the crew chief whose team has the lowest combined start/finish numbers. A year-end award of $102,400 will also be presented to the crew chief with the most victories. (Eligibility is based on a team's participation in the DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race contingency program.)

Evernham, heading a first-rate pit crew that became known as the "Rainbow Warriors" because of their brightly-colored uniforms that represented the team's sponsor, DuPont, guided Gordon to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championships in 1995, '97 and '98. Evernham left the team late in the 1999 season to head Dodge's 2001 return to the series. He continues in that role, via his Evernham Motorsports operation with drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs.

"I'm blown away," Evernham said. "I've never thought of myself as anyone special. All I did was have a great team, a great driver and did my job the best I could. I thank the media for their recognition."

Evernham was one of 10 crew chiefs nominated for the all-time award. Over several days of voting on NASCARMEDIA.com, Evernham amassed a total of 1,187 points to edge eight-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion crew chief Dale Inman by only 24 (1,163) points. Leonard Wood, who is credited with helping to revolutionize the approach to pit stops in the 1960s, finished third with 1,079 points.

Media participating in the voting ranked the 10 nominated crew chiefs. A first-place ranking was worth 10 points, a second-place ranking nine points, etc. Evernham received 46 first-place votes, while Inman had 47 and Wood 19.

Rounding out the results:

In fourth place was Harry Hyde with 1,051 points, followed by Bud Moore (937); Kirk Shelmerdine (908); Ray Fox (748); Lee Petty (737); Gary Nelson (643); and Herb Nab (512).

"To me it's an honor to be mentioned with those other people," Evernham said. "Those guys are the heroes that I've looked up to. If you were a baseball player, it's like winning an award above Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth, great people like that."

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jeremy Mayfield , Scott Riggs , Kirk Shelmerdine , Kasey Kahne , Ray Evernham , Lee Petty