Newsmaker: Ray Evernham

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

Car owner Ray Evernham has been busy in the past two months putting together a deal that would promote Busch Series driver Kasey Kahne to the Nextel Cup Series and allow Bill Elliott to drop down to a part-time schedule. He took time out last week to talk about it.

Question: What is your lineup for 2004?

Evernham: Kasey (Kahne) is going to run all the races, and right now we're working that stuff out. A lot of it still is undone. Since it's not a retirement tour (for Bill Elliott), we haven't worked out all the car number stuff yet. We're still looking for partners to come on board with us, so they would certainly have some input on the number. Bill is going to run 10 to 15 races. On the day Bill Elliott decides it's going to be his last race, he will drive the No. 9.

Question: There has been a lot of speculation about Kasey Kahne's contract with Ford Motorsports. How does that stand?

Evernham: From the legal side, his attorneys, and things I know, there is no contract. The contract was terminated. Kasey honored all his agreements with Ford. He did it in a gentlemanly manner, lots of correspondence over the last couple of months, so there is no contract with Ford.

Question: How difficult was it for Bill Elliott to go part-time?

Evernham: We actually came to this agreement before things started turning around. We knew at some point we were going to have to do something. I think, believe it or not, some of the pressure being off and being able to focus on what we were doing for the future might have helped things turn around. At the same time, a lot of things got in place. Our motor program made gains, our aero program, some of the simulation of software that we were working on we got finished and the team started working together as a group knowing that we were going to be going through some changes in 2004. I think we can continue that momentum. Certainly Kasey has a learning curve, but I believe Jeremy is going to step up and be a good veteran on the team.

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