Starting out his career as a driver, Ray Evernham believes to this day that he can still drive good enough to be in one of NASCAR’s top series. However, his career ultimately didn’t take that route, instead leaving his mark on the sport in another way.
Seeing the talent of a young Jeff Gordon, Evernham remarked “there is no way in the world I could ever drive as good as that guy,” and took his talents to the pit box.
While their time at Hendrick Motorsports began in 1993, they originally met three years early in September 1990, when Jeff Gordon was trying out a Buck Baker School car. Evernham said he saw Gordon’s “pure talent and ability” that afternoon, with the chemistry clicking immediately.
Evernham ultimately went on to lead Gordon to three of four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championships as a crew chief, before leaving Hendrick Motorsports. He then went into team ownership, winning races with Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
During that time, he got to celebrate his accomplishments in victory lane with his fellow team members, but never took time to fully enjoy those moments. Instead, with a focus on winning more races, it was enjoy it for the time being, before re-focusing in knowing a full field is gunning for you.
“I wish that I probably would have savored some of those things a little bit more, but I’m really thankful and I feel blessed that I’m still surrounded by many of those people and then have the opportunity to do it now,” he said.
He got some time to reflect this past Friday night when he was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“It’s like a fire hose of emotions,” Evernham remarked. “Normally when something happens, it’s one or two emotions, but just about everything that you could possibly feel, whether that’s happiness or sadness or pride or humbleness, it happens because when you start racing like I did and like Jeff did, you never really expect to get there. You dream about it and you work hard to get there and the whole time you’re doing it you never really think that you could ever make a mark in a sport that would get you at this level.”
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