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NASCAR's Ray Evernham wouldn't mind working with Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon again

Ray Evernham is now a minority holder in his Cup team, which no longer has his name on it. His team merged with Richard Petty’s.

Getty Images (2007)

Ray Evernham is now a minority holder in his Cup team, which no longer has his name on it. His team merged with Richard Petty’s.

DAYTONA BEACH — Richard Petty Motorsports minority partner Ray Evernham said he has no inkling to return to the Sprint Cup garage as a crew chief but expressed a strong desire to again work with former boss Rick Hendrick, specifically in a capacity that would return four-time series champion Jeff Gordon to title contention.

Evernham was crew chief for Gordon's first three Cup titles at Hendrick Motorsports before leaving in 2000 to form his own Dodge team, which took on minority investor George Gillett in 2007, absorbed Petty Enterprises and changed its name before this season.

Evernham, 51, said he has no interest in future team ownership and didn't necessarily advocate becoming a Hendrick employee again.

"I am interested in some partnership with Rick, whether that is car dealerships or whether it's some of these new (street stock and hot rod) things he's got going or helping him run his business," Evernham said. "I am very interested in helping Jeff be successful."

Evernham admitted nostalgia from visiting the Hendrick shop for the first time in a decade to interview Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, for ESPN.

Last week, Gordon expressed an interest in working with Evernham again.

"I don't know where that will go, but we'll see," Evernham said. "Rick and I have stayed close. Jeff and I have stayed close. I would like to see Jeff end his career on a high note because I will tell you it really (stinks) for him when people begin to question if he has the desire, does he have this, does he have that."

In 2008, Gordon failed to win a race for the first time since his rookie season in 1993, and was seventh in points.

Evernham, who has a multi-year, exclusive consulting agreement with the Petty organization, said he is too old to return to the pit box.

"That would be like asking John Elway, as bad as he probably wants to play football, to come back at quarterback. He just can't do it," he said. "It would take me two or three years to learn it all over again."

Hendrick was noncommittal on the topic other than to note, "We think a lot alike and I respect his knowledge a ton."

LOCAL MOTION: Tampa native Aric Almirola led Wednesday's afternoon Daytona 500 practice with a best lap of 191.436 mph in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

He had the seventh-best time in qualifying, but his starting position for Sunday will be decided in today's 150-mile qualifying races.

NEW SURFACE: Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig said his track could have a nearly $20 million resurfacing in three years. The track has been repaved just once, in 1978.

In 2006, International Speedway Corp. paved Talladega Superspeedway for the first time since 1979, creating a smooth, fast and versatile surface. Talladega was paved first, Braig said, to "get the technology right."

Directions

From Interstate 275 in Tampa, take I-4 east until it ends at I-95. Take I-95 north briefly to exit 261, W International Speedway Boulevard. The track is on the right.

NASCAR's Ray Evernham wouldn't mind working with Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon again 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:15pm]
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