End Of An Era

HARRISBURG, N.C. - - With the rumors surrounding the future of Ray Evernham becoming an increasing distraction to Jeff Gordon's team, Hendrick Motorsports released Evernham from the organization effective immediately. Brian Whitesell was named to replace Evernham as crew chief.

"Ray let us know he had reached a point where he didn't want to be a crew chief any more," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "In response to that, we were planning to move him up in the organization, but he decided he wanted to pursue having a team of his own." Gordon's former crew chief said, "This was my idea, and I am thankful that Rick was willing to work with me in finding a path toward a goal I have of running my own operation. I'm also thankful that he enabled me to work with Jeff Gordon, who is an incredible winner and may be the best talent this sport has ever seen, as well as our Rainbow Warriors team and crew. Jeff and that crew will be winning races for a long time to come," Evernham said. After losing the only crew chief he has had in his Winston Cup career, Gordon said, "My first thought is to thank Ray. He has contributed greatly to the success of the 24 team, and I wish him success in his future endeavors."

Whitesell, who will replace Evernham as crew chief, most recently served as team engineer and has been with the team since its debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992. During that race, and for every one of the 215 that followed, Whitesell was positioned atop the pit box alongside Evernham, helping Gordon to 47 victories. "This is just a fantastic opportunity," Whitesell said. "I'm looking forward to doing the job the best way I know how. Working with Ray has helped me understand the dynamics involved between driver, crew chief and our spotter on race days. Jeff Gordon and I have always communicated very well, also, and that's extremely important. The emphasis on teamwork will remain at the center of all we do and achieve. And I'm just real excited about getting started." Gordon was upbeat when talking about his new crew chief. "I have tremendous confidence in Brian and I'm looking forward to many more wins and more championships with him and our Rainbow Warriors team," Gordon said. "We've got a great organization and I'm looking forward to the future."

Jeff Gordon Online

Copyright 1999. Jeff Gordon Online
All Rights Reserved