MWS: Garrett Evans - NASCAR spotlight

Garrett Evans Having Fun Again in 20th Year DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 18, 2004) -- After 20 years of racing in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series for Garrett Evans, the feeling has come full circle. In 1985 when NASCAR first...

Garrett Evans Having Fun Again in 20th Year

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 18, 2004) -- After 20 years of racing in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series for Garrett Evans, the feeling has come full circle. In 1985 when NASCAR first ventured into the Pacific Northwest, it was just plain fun. Now, in 2004, after a few years of struggles and self-doubt, racing is fun again for Evans, the four-time Northwest Series champion from Ardenvoir, Wash.

It would be easy to say that he is just saying that since he sits atop the series championship point standings, but, truth be told, Evans simply wanted to have a competitive car at each and every event, not just one or two tracks. This year the No. 64 Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Financing Chevrolet has been in the thick of things at all four races. He has earned a Top 5 finish in every event including the victory on June 12 in the Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Rumors about how much longer he was going to race have swirled around Evans in recent years, but the Evans Racing team, as they readied themselves for the 2004 season, emphasized the fundamentals and also employed some of the technology of today. "We decided to try the sway bar and softer springs that the Cup (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series) and Busch (NASCAR Busch Series) drivers are using these days," said Evans. "That along with some of the other little things we have done have made a big difference."

The win for Evans at Magic Valley Speedway was his 50th in the Northwest Series, which is an all-time best that covers all 20 years in the series' history. While he cannot recite the wins in chronological order, but after 20 years who could? He can recall most of them and the stories that go with them.

The first win came in 1985, the first year of NASCAR racing in the Northwest, at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. "It was such a big deal for NASCAR to be out here. The stands were full. It was fun times," recalled Evans. "Back in those days we just had to make it work since we were all over the place like Calgary (Alberta, Canada), Carson City (Nev.) and several tracks in Oregon and Washington. We would run back-to-back shows, one day in Yakima (Wash.) the next in Monroe. The cars were not always in the best condition."

Over the course of 50 wins a few stick out in Evans' mind. For instance, also in 1985, he was leading the season points race but like many drivers, then and today, the Northwest Series was not the only racing they did. Evans ran a Northwest Racing Association event in Wenatchee, Wash. and blew the motor in his car and needed to run the NASCAR event in Monroe the next day. "We didn't have back-up cars and motors like we do today so I borrowed a car," said Evans as he lamented. " This was not a competitive car, but we worked all night to get the car ready and to pass the technical inspection that they had back then. We were able to set that car on the pole for the race, and then we went on to win." Sound like a good story already? Evans also added that he lost the brakes during the race. Not a minor malfunction in a short track race.

Not all that much has changed in 20 years aside from the technology and safety of the cars in Evans' estimation. "Just go out, run fast and win," he says.

Evans along with his longtime crew chief John Vickery and his crew, with whom he credits the new found success, look to find success again at Evergreen Speedway. His last win there came in March of 1996. "We had all kinds of success there early on, but not recently. I like to have a tight car and that is hard to do at that track these days," says Evans. "But with some of the things we have gone back to and some of the new things we are doing I like our chances of turning things around there."

What were fun times back in NASCAR's early days in the Pacific Northwest are once again fun for Garrett Evans. For now, he has his sights squarely set on his fifth Northwest Series title and is just happy to have the chance to race and enjoy it again. The rejuvenated Evans summed it up, "As long as it is fun, I see no reason to stop."

-nascar-

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