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Friday, March 23, 2007
Evernham in talks with Canadiens owner Gillett Jr.

By David Newton
ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ray Evernham may be getting closer to finding a business partner for Evernham Motorsports.

George Gillett Jr., the owner of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League and co-owner of the Liverpool soccer team in England, will be at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.

"It's a matter of getting the right partner and getting the right timing. It's not about the money. I need the right partner."
-- Ray Evernham

Gillett also met with Evernham at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.

"We're still talking," Evernham said on Friday. "It's a matter of getting the right partner and getting the right timing. It's not about the money. I need the right partner.

"I want to win a championship."

Jack Roush recently sold 50 percent of his company to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group. Evernham said he hasn't discussed how much of EMS will be sold.

"I just need somebody that's going to come in and bring people that are interested in providing technology and sponsorship to the race team," he said.

Evernham would like to find a partner that could take over some of his business duties, such as dealing with sponsors.

"I want to work on race cars again," said Evernham, who won three championship as the crew chief for Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports. "That's what I do, work on the cars with my guys and go fast.

"I need a partner who can do his side and I can do my side."

Evernham's three teams have struggled this season. His star driver, Kasey Kahne, is 36th in points with three straight finishes of 35th or worse. Elliott Sadler is 13th in points and Scott Riggs is 39th.

If Kahne and Riggs don't move into the top 35 in points this week they're not guaranteed a spot in the field next week at Martinsville.

"Shame on us if we're not in the top 35," Evernham said. "With the resources we have and the equipment and people we have, we should be in the top 35."

But Evernham isn't panicking. He's confident Kahne's team will rebound, hoping the return of team director Kenny Francis from a four-race suspension will give that group a boost.

"We're going to stay the course," Evernham said. "We know we're a little bit off from where we think we should be, but I'm not going to go crazy. We're going to work together."

And Evernham will continue to work on finding a partner, whether it's Gillett or somebody else.

"He likes the races," Evernham said of Gillett. "As long as he likes the races and has his own airplane, I'll keep getting him passes."

David Newton covers Nextel Cup racing for ESPN.com