Ray Evernham was back at the track for Saturday night's Chevrolet 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Not only that, he was in the pits, on the radio and running the show as Casey Atwood _ the 20-year-old driver he picked to race for his team when Dodge returns to racing next year _ made his Winston Cup debut.
"It feels good. I love the people here," Evernham said during a break from working on the Ford that Atwood drove Saturday night. "I have a lot of friends in the garage area, a lot of familiar faces. You don't feel like you're part of it when you're away from it. It's great to be back."
Evernham won three Winston Cup championships as Jeff Gordon's crew chief before leaving last year to head the Dodge program. He also will field a second team next season with Bill Elliott as the driver.
"It's good working on the car," he said. "It's like playing golf for me. This is my mental relaxation. I don't have to worry about the business. I don't have to worry about the travel. I don't have to worry about this or that. I can have fun doing what I like to do."
Atwood, in his second year in the Busch series, said he was a little nervous before qualifying but more relaxed after making the race. Atwood started 35th and finished 19th.
"I've got a lot of learning to do," he said.
WAR OF WORDS: Jack Roush isn't one to absorb a pot-shot without returning fire, and he put his bull's-eye on Dave Marcis.
During a news conference called to explain a device he's developing, the "Roush Ignition Interrupter System," Roush took exception to remarks made by Marcis and distributed by Chevrolet's public relations machine.
On the quote sheet, Marcis said a brake switch Roush is developing is not new, and that drivers in Marcis' home state of Wisconsin had access to something similar 15 years ago.
"Why in the hell does Jack Roush think he's come up with the latest and greatest again?" the 33-year veteran said. "I'm sure Dick Trickle used those things when he was racing in Wisconsin. They didn't have 'em when I was racing up there, but my nephew used 'em in the mid-'80s."
Roush's system measures pressure inside the car and shuts the engine down if it senses the driver of the car has lost control.
"Dave is pretty much a loose cannon on and off the track," said Roush, the owner of five Cup teams. "I don't know if he'll be in the event. We'll likely have a better event if he's not here based on the way he's been running into people lately."
Marcis, the second-slowest among 47 cars in first-round qualifying, failed to make the field in the second round and went home.
NO W FOR D.W.: Darrell Waltrip's farewell tour had another abbreviated stop on the Winston Cup circuit when the longtime NASCAR star failed to make the Chevrolet 400.
_ TIMES WIRES