RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports) NOTE: Evernham Motorsports Dodges driven by Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne will carry black numbers 19 and 9, respectively, the remainder of the season in memory of the victims in the Hendrick...
RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports)
NOTE: Evernham Motorsports Dodges driven by Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne will carry black numbers 19 and 9, respectively, the remainder of the season in memory of the victims in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash last Sunday. Also, the tail number of the plane, 501RH, will be in front of the rear wheel well on the Evernham Motorsports Dodges.
COMMENT ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS PLANE CRASH TRAGEDY
"It's hard to put it into words. The key word everybody has used this week is family. That was an airplane full of the best people in the world, the best people I knew. Rick Hendrick is a great man and gives a lot of things to a lot of people. What he cared about most in the world was his family and to have something like this happen I don't know how you put that into words."
HOW DO YOU REMEMBER RANDY DORTON?
"Randy was probably the guy I was closest with out of that group. Randy guided me through a lot of things when I first came to NASCAR. We were in a lot of battles together, and we won a lot of races and championships. You couldn't make a list of the stuff that Randy's motors have won. It's too long. They talked about Randy as a friend and as a great, caring, giving person. That's just the way it is. Randy was a genius mechanically, but he had something special with people, too. He was a guy after a race would spend the flight home reading to my son and things like that instead of worrying about what we had to do tomorrow. I know in any sport, especially this one, any time there's a great person they influence what happens in that sport and Randy Dorton made a major influence in everything that happened and will happen for some time to come in this garage area as far as horsepower goes."
COMMENT ON JOHN HENDRICK
"As I said there just was an airplane full of those people. John Hendrick and I got to be close in 1998 when Rick was ill. John ran the company. John was up on the pit box with me weekly in our 13-win season. He became a good friend and a good leader. He was probably a little bit more laid back than Rick. He had just a way of being funny. He'd crack the ice with a little bit of comedy. John was a very giving man, but I can't say that enough. That whole group of people from John to Ricky to Randy to the kids... I remember those kids as little kids going out on Christmas and giving away things to homeless people. That was just something they did as a family. Ricky helping guys at the shop that just didn't have a lot of money and things like that. The whole family was that way. Rick's prize possession in life is his family, and to see him have to go through this I just don't know what to say."
HOW DO YOU FILL ALL THOSE SHOES?
"You can't. You don't try. There's a lot of good people at Hendrick. They've got a lot of depth. They've got some good strength in that organization, and they'll all hold hands and they'll get through it because that's what champions do. There are plenty of champions at Hendrick Motorsports."
COMMENT ON JEFF GORDON SAYING HE'S MORE DETERMINED THAN EVER TO WIN THE TITLE IN HONOR OF THOSE LOST IN THE CRASH
"Again, that's what champions do. That's why Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and Brian and Terry and all the people over there are great champions. They'll find strength, and they'll go and they'll get it done. That's why that organization is what it is and that's the kind of philosophy Rick has instilled in everybody. Come hell or high water, somehow they'll get through this and they'll be champions."
DOES THIS MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT HOW WE TRAVEL?
"I don't think it should be a lesson in how we travel as much as it should be a lesson in how we live. If there's anything we can take from this, because I truly believe everybody's day has a number on it, and when that number is called it's called, but the lesson we can learn from this is the way the Hendrick family and the Dortons and Jeff Turner and everybody lived their lives. The lesson is we can be better friends. We can be better husbands, better fathers, brothers, sister and we should appreciate life a little bit more. That's the best way we can honor those people."
DOES IT FEEL BETTER TO BE AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND?
"I think in some ways people didn't feel like coming here, but we're better off here than sitting at home. There's a lot of people here sharing the same pain and trying to help carry the burden. It was hard wanting to get on the airplane and come here, but again, being here, I can't think of anywhere other than maybe sitting with the Hendrick family, I can't think of another place I'd rather be. Rick's got strong faith, and he'll get through this. I wouldn't challenge those people who dare sit in judgment whether he shoulders it or not to try to understand what that man is going through right now. He's got faith. He's got friends, but I'd have to challenge anybody who dare says sit there and see how this man handles it. Until you have to walk a mile in his shoes, I'd pity somebody who would make that kind of judgment."
DO YOU STILL FEEL CLOSE TO THE HENDRICK ORGANIZATION?
"I feel like that. I feel like that to this day. Rick and I talked about that Monday night. I think he still feels that way. He feels proud every time he sees one of our cars run good. Rick knows home much he means to me and how much he meant to me getting this going. I've always, 'til this day, felt that I was still part of Hendrick Motorsports. I felt very much that way yesterday, again, when I sat there with the Hendrick Motorsports company."
DOES ALL THIS SEEM UNFAIR?
"It does seem unfair to me. It does. We're not supposed to question why or how much one man can handle. How many times can you die? It is unfair, but all you've got is your faith to hold on to. Hopefully in the end we'll find the answers and understand why one person has to go through so much pain."