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News and Results | Point Standings | 2005 Schedule | 2005 Teams | 2004 Schedule and Results

 

LMS Media Tour: Evernham Motorsports Stop

Jan. 25, 2005 - Comments from Ray Evernham, Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne during the Loweís Motor Speedway Media Tour stop at Evernham Motorsports.

Ray Evernham
RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports)

DO YOU THINK THIS WILL BE A BREAKTHROUGH YEAR FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION? ďWe hope so. Weíre putting everything in place to do that. Look at 2003 with Bill and Jeremy. Jeremy ran second a couple of times and Bill had that problem at Homestead and Chicago, I think we got beat on fuel mileage. We were on the verge of multiple wins in 2003. We were on the verge again in 2004. If we can just keep putting ourselves in position, taking those shots on goal, itís got to come. If both of these cars won more than one race this year I donít think anyone would be surprised.Ē

WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN FOR KASEY TO WIN? ďI donít think he has to do anything different. He has to concentrate on communicating what he needs in a car to go 500 miles and probably not run so hard early. I think that will take care of itself.Ē

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT IT MIGHT TURN OUT FOR THE BEST THAT KASEY DIDNíT WIN LAST YEAR? ďI feel bad for the kid. I think to let him have just one would have been nice. Having that many seconds and that many top fives, I think he ended up with about 14 top fives. Thatís kind of like torture. I think it would have still been a lesson if we could have got him just one.Ē

WAS HE IN A LOT OF AGONY ON THE WAY HOME AFTER FINISHING SECOND? ďI was. They kid me a lot. When we run second, I donít yell and scream and throw stop watches. I used to, but I donít anymore. We talk like we deserve to win. Whatís keeping us from winning? When we win, Iíll be happy. When we run second, Iím not happy. I hate to run second?Ē

WHAT MADE YOU HIRE ERIN CROCKER (AS A BUSCH, ARCA DRIVER)? ďHer record and comments I was getting from other drivers. When I met with her, just like when I met with Kasey, thereís just something about them and you know theyíve got it. If they can get going with the personality, they should be able to be a real superstar. Sheís cute as a button. Sheís bubbling with personality, and she believes she can knock the wheels off the boys, and I like that. I sent people to Las Vegas to watch her and were actually there the night she won (Outlaw race). Iíve actually not seen her race yet. Iíll probably see her run this weekend in the Copper Classic.Ē

WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR A FEMALE TO MAKE IT IN CUP? ďI think itís going to take a lady who can run in the top 10 consistently. I donít think as competitive as this sport is Ė Busch or Cup Ė you canít guarantee that anybodyís going to win anymore. You canít guarantee that Jeff Gordonís going to win or anybody, you just canít. You look at the people who have gone without wins Ė Harvick, Bobby Labonte Ė itís hard. If she can go out and run consistently in the top 10 and challenge for wins, I think that would be enough to say a female has legitimately arrived. Our goal is to bring her along slow without putting a lot of pressure on her, get her a lot of experience testing with ARCA and USAC and put her in three Busch races toward the end of the year. I want to put her in more if we can find sponsorship, but our goal is to put her in a full-time Busch Grand National car by 2006.Ē

WHY ARE DRIVERS COMING FROM THE OPEN WHEEL RANKS? ďI think itís about car control, not so much with the wings. I think the Silver Crown Series is a good way. The cars are overpowered and they donít handle real well. With the hard tires and less aerodynamics these cars are moving all over the place. Theyíre able to go fast. If you look at the people that have come out of open wheel, theyíre fast. Kurt Busch is a late model guys, but he drove Legends car on dirt. Jimmie Johnson drove in the desert Ė car control. I just believe that these kids are coming with lots of car control.Ē

WHATíS IT LIKE WHEN YOUíRE ON TOP? ďYou can never beat confidence, thatís for sure. The other thing it brings a lot of resources because everybody wants to be a part of your team. It allows you to build that organization, but youíve got to be careful because that starts a lot of infighting. Itís got to be shared across the board. What Rick and Jack has done, thatís what the rest of us have to shoot for right now. Sports in general is cyclical. Look at the NFL or major league baseball, teams have great runs for three or four years and then have to start all over again. Look at the Yankees and the Braves. They stay at the top, but theyíre not as dominant as they were. Part of that is because of the people. People are really motivated but once youíve accomplished a lot itís really hard to stay on that upward curve without taking a jump to another challenge.Ē

Bill Elliott
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Dodge Charger)

ďRight now, it (ride with Chip Ganassi in Budweiser Shootout) is just a one-shot deal. I talked with Ray about running some other stuff. I think Iím going to end up running some Busch races this year and maybe some truck stuff, but right now I want to pick and do a couple a month. Unlike the Cup deal, and Iím sure everybody wants to know this, I wanted to race a little bit more than I did last year but on the other hand I want to pick and choose what I do. Thatís so much different than running every week on the Cup side. The absolute most fun I had (last year) was spending time with Chase (son) watching him run his go-kart. To sit and watch, not only when he runs his go-kart but heís been playing some other sports, too, spending time with him growing up is what I missed so much with my other kids growing up. That was a lot of fun for me.Ē

COMMENT ON KASEY KAHNEíS SUCCESS LAST SEASON ďKasey did a fantastic job, and I was very proud of him. Iím sure as I went into the season one side of you was a little jealous, but the other side was Ďhey man, youíve had your time.í The kid deserved it. He worked hard for it. He did a fantastic job. He should have been in victory lane a couple of times, but weíve all been down that road before. All-in-all, heís got a great future. With what Ray has built here, itís just incredible. With the amount of people and the amount of vision heís got from what heís brought in, looking the way I started with my McDonaldís deal in the late Ď90s and building this facility and start here, I would have never had the vision to go where heís gone today. It blows me away. Where the sportís gone, it looks like to me it just keeps nipping away at the guy that can come in and make a name, but on the other hand youíve got the driver development where if you can get your name in the hat on the driver development youíve just about got a guaranteed ride if youíre good enough to make the cut to go on in to something else.Ē

DID YOU START THE RETIREMENT TREND? ďFrom one standpoint if you look at it, I ran all the races for over 20 years. Thatís enough of the pressure week in and week out. Now I want to do something thatís more on the fun side. For me to go out and run selected races and do this or dabble in that, I still want to be competitive, but I donít want to run into that grind every week of having to show up at the next event. I can pick my races and pick times where I can be other places doing other things and spending time with Chase or whatever. Heís getting to the point now where if he wants to continue to race or whatever he wants to do, Iíll be there to help him and guide him. On the other side of the coin, with what Ray is trying to build with driver development, Iíll be there to help with the next generation. Thereís a lot of new areas and a lot of new pages for my book from this standpoint on. Thatís what Iím trying to get used to and fill the role of what feels right to me. You finally get to the point where you say, Ďhey, I can give this up and go do something else.í Youíve been a competitor for a lot of years. Itís a lot of dedication and a lot of work and a lot of time away from home. Thatís why I wanted to do it a little bit at a time, plus Ray wants me to stay involved from his standpoint. Being able to drive part time and keep up with the car evolution and keep up with the new drivers coming along, helps me keep in touch. It gives me time on the other side to spend time with the kids. Itís a two-fold deal. I really had a lot of fun last year. Some of the races Iíd just show up and meet my friends and go on down the road. At others, Iíd just watch Ďem on TV. Then I got to compete in some. It was a whole different feel and last year was the first year not to run the Daytona 500 in a number of years, but to be able to meet the President and greet him and do what I did in the Daytona 500 pre-race filled a lot of that void.Ē

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK FOR ONE SHOT WITH COORS? ďThatís kinda neat. I really enjoyed running for those guys. It was unfortunate they got out from us when they did in the 90s, but one shot with them will be a lot of fun.Ē

Jeremy Mayfield
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON WHAT ENGINEERING MEANS TO YOUR TEAM ďIn our type of racing you canít just have it all about numbers. Itís just not going to work. We know the balance numbers but getting those balance numbers and applying them to the racetracks is a different story. Once you get that done, youíve got to have someone whoís good with the guys as a coach and engineering isnít a part of that deal. You need a good leader, someone who keeps the guys pumped up. I think thatís a big part of our sport. Youíve got to have the right mixture of people to make it work.Ē

DO YOU LIKE THE NEW SPOILERS? ďThe best I ever ran in that 12 car, I knew what our numbers were. It was more toward more downforce and less rear. Since Iíve been here, I havenít really had those numbers back until this year. We cut the spoilers off and shifted some balance to the front of the car. I feel like this yearís rules are going to fall right in our hands. Iím not going to say itís because itís a loose racecar, but different drivers like different things. Bill likes a lot of rear. Kasey is kinda in between, and I love a lot of front. Weíre to a point where weíve got a little bit of what we all like.Ē

WHAT DID YOU LEARN BY MAKING THE CHASE LAST SEASON? ďLooking back Iím going to tell you weíve got to go all out at the beginning of the season because I donít want to go through what I went through last year. The last race, last lap, whatever it was. I got out of the car and wondered what happened. You wonít change the way you play offense. I guess the best way to sum that up is youíre not going to go out there and race any harder. Your guys canít work any harder. All you can do when youíre having a bad day is try to capitalize on everybody elseís mistakes. If youíre going to finish 20th, try to finish 18th. We found out last year that two spots is a lot of cars. I think thatís what youíll see more than anything. Guys will repair when they wreck and when theyíre having a bad day gamble on strategy.Ē

COMMENT ON DAYTONA TEST ďMy jaws are hurting from talking and smiling. Iíve been smiling like crazy. Iím so excited about this year. Iíve never been in this type of situation where Iíve got everybody around me and everybody pulling for me. Ray and I are doing great. Iím flying below the radar. Iím kinda scared. Iíve never been in a situation where everything is right and weíre just beginning. Last year was a good year, but now weíve got all our ducks in a row and weíre ready to race.Ē

COMMENT ON FONTANA, VEGAS TEST ďThatís when weíre going to learn more about the Charger and know more about whatís going to happen. Daytona is hit and miss. Youíre either going to be real good or real bad. I feel like weíre going to be good at Daytona for sure, and we should be good at Fontana and Vegas. When Daytona is over you take a deep breath and get ready to go.Ē

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR CHARGER? ďI think of Richard Petty and all those races he won in the Charger. Itís cool to be a part of that. Weíve got a lot of good things going. Our team is in great shape, and Dodge is showing its commitment by bringing back the Charger. If I can do half of what Richard Petty did in the Charger Iíll be all right. I think the word Charger sounds good. It sounds like Hard Charger.Ē

WILL THE URGENCY CARRY OVER FROM LAST SEASON? ďYeah, Iíve felt an urgency to get this year going. I knew last year was a great year, but it was like a building year. This year will be different. Iím confident about all my guys and the new car and the way everything is going at Evernham Motorsports. Weíre just beginning, and Iím excited about that. We want the Chase more now than weíve ever wanted it. I donít know if it changes anything, but right now Iím looking at the big picture on down the road.Ē

DID GETTING IN THE CHASE WEAR YOU OUT? ďOnce we got in I was more excited than Iíd ever been, but we came back and the 31 and 16 got in a wreck and got us and that kind of took the air out of us. It was like we could never get rolling in the Chase, but I still feel good about last season. We were just a victim of circumstances in the last 10 races.Ē

Kasey Kahne
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

WHATíS IT GOING TO TAKE TO WIN A RACE? ďIf we just keep putting ourselves in position and once we do it enough and we start getting the breaks and get a full race that goes our way, I think itís going to start happening more often. Doing it that first time and breaking the ice is going to be the secret.Ē

COMMENT ON YOUR TEST AT DAYTONA ďI was very satisfied. We came a long way. The engine shop has done a lot to help this program at the restrictor plate tracks. That was our weakest point last year, and I think itís going to be strong this year. Iím geared up to get out to Vegas and California and get back in the cars. I love testing and I love it early in the season. You want to get back in the car and get back in the swing of things. Itís just like when we got in the draft the other day at Daytona, it was so cool. We hadnít done anything like that in a long time. It was fun. Weíre going to have four critical days of testing at California and Las Vegas to learn what the Charger is going to be like at those kind of tracks, but Iím really excited about getting out there.Ē

ARE YOUR SETUPS CLOSE TO THE OTHER EVERNHAM DRIVERS? ďNot too close. The driving styles are so different. Me and Jeremy donít have similar setups. Me and Bill are different. You can still talk about things and learn from each other about what they did and what we did to make the car tighter or looser, but we have different springs and bars and camber.Ē

COMMENT ON YOUR ROOKIE SEASON. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT A SOPHOMORE JINX? ďI see what Jimmie Johnson did and Tony Stewart. They finished way better in points than I did and won races their first year. A lot of rookies have done well. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty good season last year. Weíre hoping we can have a much better season this year. Iím happy with what went on last year, some of the poles and second-place finishes. Youíre always looking to the next week and next race. I heard somebody say the other day that they didnít look back on the cool stuff they did until they retire, and Iím not ready for that yet. You donít know whatís going on now. You just try to go to the next race and do better, do things you havenít done. We want to win races. Iíve heard about the sophomore jinx a few times, but my rookie season wasnít as good as I thought it should have been. We had problems in my rookie season that I didnít think we should have had. Maybe we had our sophomore jinx in our rookie season. I think with everybodyís commitment here, weíre going to have a much better season in 2005.Ē

WERE YOU HARD ON YOURSELF AFTER ALL THOSE RUNNER-UP FINISHES LAST SEASON? ďI talk to myself a lot. I wasnít too happy about certain things, but Iím pretty happy about all our second-place finishes. Some wins got taken away because of oil on the track or yellow flags or things like that, but thatís nothing you can control. Those were disappointing, but what can you do? Thereís nothing you can do. Iím happy with the way the rest of the season went. I just hope we can dominate an entire race this season and not just seven-eighths of a race.Ē

HOW IMPORTANT IS MOMENTUM? ďMomentum is huge. You get rolling, you get hard to beat. Look at Ryan Newman. He gets a pole and gets another the next week and you canít stop the guy. Itís all about the team and everybody working together. Once you get momentum on your side, youíre pretty hard to stop.Ē

 

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