Feb. 22, 2012; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (right) talks with Ray Evernham during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Evernham Leaving ESPN

NASCAR and ESPN made a sad announcement earlier this week when it was revealed that ESPN Commentator Ray Evernham would not be returning in 2014.

Instead, he is joining forces with Hendrick Motorsports.

The championship-winning crew chief will be in an expanded role with the powerhouse organization helping the four crew chiefs as a resource and adviser.

“Will I be building cars? No,” he told NASCAR.com. “Will I be meeting with crew chiefs and trying to help them? Yes. …And I stick to the point. You will not see me be a crew chief; you will not see me have an active role. You will see me at the race track because that’s about the same number of races I went to last year. And I think if I’m going to interact and really understand and help the guys, I’ve got to dig down and see what they’re going with at the race track. I look at myself as being a good textbook, a good resource, not only for the management team, but the guys as well and in order to do that I’m going to have to be at the track sometimes.”

Evernham is familiar with the inner workings of Hendrick Motorsports after he led Jeff Gordon to three Championships and 47 races between 1993 and 1999 before parting ways to start his own race team, Evernham Motorsports.

Because Evernham chose to work closely with Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports this season, he decided it was his time to part ways with ESPN.

“I can’t put Hendrick in a compromising position, or ESPN,” he said. “What do I want to do? Where do I want to be five years from now? I enjoyed (working at ESPN) a lot. But when I looked out to the future, I didn’t see a spot for me.”

“This is more about philosophy and systems and helping continue that winning culture that Mr. H has got over there,” he said. “Being an assistant to guys like Marshal (Carlson, President and CEO) and Doug (Duchardt, executive vice president and general manager), the guys that are really, really smart that don’t have that race experience, crew chief experience.

“I’m there to help add to the systems they already have and help with that communication. … I’m not going to go in there and make the car go faster by rubbing on a template. … Those days are over. They’ve got a tremendous amount of resources. I need to be able to help them organizationally and philosophically use the people and tools that they have in place better.”

ESPN is in their final year of NASCAR race coverage after their contract comes to an end in 2014.

Tags: ESPN Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Ray Evernham Rick Hendrick

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