Chat with NASCAR Now's Ray Evernham
Known for years as one of the best crew chiefs in the business, helping Jeff Gordon gain his championship foothold, Evernham has gone on to success as a car owner, including Kasey Kahne's current ride, and on air with ESPN.
A true NASCAR insider with connections throughout the racing world, Evernham is the perfect guy to talk about the race for the Chase and everything else going on in NASCAR.
Send in your questions below and stop by at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday!
Buzzmaster (1:24 PM)
Ray will be here in a few minutes, so get your questions in!
Buzzmaster (1:31 PM)
We've got Ray!
So, what is the real problem with the Atlanta track - the tires or the surface? I keep hearing about both.
Ray Evernham (1:32 PM)
I don't know if it's a problem. The surface is abrasive like Darlington. For years, we've been racing at Darlington and the racing has been good. Probably the fact that the speeds are higher at Atlanta makes it look like the cars are more out of control. It might look like the tires are more worn and the COT not having as much down force and the tires wearing out more quickly.
Edwards is going to have to basically win again in order to win the Cup, right?
Ray Evernham (1:33 PM)
No. It just really depends on where JJ finishes. Right now he has to make up 107 points to beat JJ for the championship. Actually, if he just tied him, Edwards would win, because he has more wins. Jimmie has to just finish 7th in the next two races and there's no way Carl can beat him.
Are we really going to go a full season without Jeff Gordon winning a race?
Ray Evernham (1:34 PM)
Woah, boy. It's hard for me to believe too. He still have two shots - Phoenix and Holmstead, where he hasn't won. Those are two difficult tracks for him. There have been other great drivers who have gone a full season without winning. It does happen, but the fact that it's about to happen to Jeff Gordon has me and you a little surprised.
Nick (New York)
What's the biggest issue facing NASCAR today?
Ray Evernham (1:35 PM)
I think it's the same issue that's facing the rest of the country. The economy. Everyone's going to ahve to tighten their belts. We're going to have to protect the race teams that the haves and have nots get further apart.
How big of a loss to NASCAR is having a long time sponsor like Kodak leave?
Ray Evernham (1:36 PM)
I think it certainly hurts, but throughout the years, this is something that has precedence. Sometimes a sponsor will be in and run for 10-15 years and then just take a different marketing track. But you appreciate the time they've been in the sport, but it's not uncommon for a company to change marketing strategies after a long period of time.
Ray, more improbable, Jeff Gordon NOT winning a race or JJ winning three straight Cups?
Ray Evernham (1:37 PM)
I think right now the odds are in Jimmie Johnson's favor to win three straight Cups. But I'm still not going to count out Jeff Gordon.
Jake (VA Beach)
Why do you think Jeff Gordon couldn't quite reach the top level competition all year?
Ray Evernham (1:38 PM)
It seems to me that they have periods of teh race where they're looking good. But then they have periods where they get behind. I think they're not getting the communication right in the set up of the car. It has such a fine line where they either over adjust or underadjust and whenever they have those bad runs, they can't seem to overcome that.
My question is, why does NASCAR not step up and park the 38 for one week. That was one of the most blatant take outs I have seen in quite awhile, yet they are just giving him a slap on the wrist. What was your take on this incident?
Ray Evernham (1:39 PM)
I agree with you 100%. If I was the czar of NASCAR, the 38 would be parked this week. That's not to say there's not bumping on short tracks, but what happened yesterday was dangerous. It was uncalled for. I think NASCAR needs to take a harder look at.
Can you confirm that Martin will be in the 8 car for Phoenix? One last allocation for him, and this would be a good spot.
Ray Evernham (1:40 PM)
I have not. We've heard all of the rumors like everyone. As far as I know, those are only rumors. I've not heard. But I think Mark is scheduled to be in the 8 car for Phoenix anyway.
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
how big of a loss will it be for DEI to lose Mark Martin?
Ray Evernham (1:41 PM)
I don't think it's any secret that DEI is in a huge sponsorship hunt along with losing Mark, they're also losing Paul Menard, who brings sponsorship with them. So the only car they have is the No. 1 with Martin Truex.
show of hands who feel bad for kyle busch as he had one of the best seasons ever but it will never be remembered as he did win
Ray Evernham (1:42 PM)
I think I agree. Kyle Busch has had a tremendous season. He's grown leaps and bounds as a driver. Unfortunately for him, Johnson and Edwards are having a heavyweight battle for the points. People forget a little bit about Kyle's dominance early. He'll have plenty of opportunites to showcase his dominance.
Ted (New Jersey)
Is this too little too late for Carl Edwards?
Ray Evernham (1:44 PM)
I dont' think it has to do with anything how Carl's running. He had a mechanical failure at Lowe's and a crash. Performance wise, the 99 has stood with the 48. If the 48 has a problem in one of the two final races, it could even out.
forget the cup, how about nationwide for Kyle?
Ray Evernham (1:45 PM)
It has been amazing. He's done a great job in Nationwide and Craftsman Truck. One of the nicest things was to donate to charity after breaking the record. It was great to see Kyle recognize that and do something about it. It's great to see a young man have some responsisbility and pay homage to the sport.
Chase winner: Johnson, Edwards, or Biffle
Ray Evernham (1:47 PM)
I still think it's a three man race. As hard as Carl and Jimmie are racing one another, who's to say that they don't take each other out. Greg Biffle is sitting right there. It's going to be hard for Edwards and Biffle to beat JJ unless he falters. He just has to finish in 7th place no matter what the others do. As we see in these races, anything can happen.
Hey Ray. I got to go see you and the boys race at Eldora this year. How was it getting to race with those guys on the dirt track? Do you plan on doing it again next year?
Ray Evernham (1:48 PM)
It was a life dream for me to be able, as an amateur race car driver to be on the same track as Stewart, Kahne, etc. It was phenomenal. I don't know how many more years we'll do that. I guess as long as I feel like I can be competitive and not make a fool of myself, I'll do it. Once they take the group shot before the race, my night has been made.
Ray Evernham (1:48 PM)
Thanks again. Great questions, as usual. I always love being able to connect and talk right to the fans. Keep on the edge of your seats. I don't think we're done with the excitement of the Chase.
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