Evernham and Gordon reunion at Hendrick becoming a real possibility

Calypso

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As Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the rest of the No. 48 team head to Las Vegas to continue the celebration of their record fourth consecutive championship, some of the attention turns to 2010 and the big question; who will be able to challenge them next season?

That challenger may very well be the driver who is listed as his car owner and the only other active driver to share four titles, Jeff Gordon. And that challenge may be boosted with a reuniting of one of the most successful driver-crew chief combinations in NASCAR history, Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham.

Evernham and Gordon were one of the most powerful pairings, the Johnson-Knaus if you will, of the 1990’s. More than half of Gordon’s 82 career wins, 47, came under Evernham’s guidance, including three seasons of double-digit victories, 1996-98.

The duo also won three championships in four seasons: 1995, 97 and 1998. In fact Gordon came close to upstaging Johnson, becoming the first driver with four consecutive titles, nearly taking the championship in 1996. The turning point came in the fall race at Charlotte when Terry Labonte, who was second in points, dominated and won while Gordon suffered engine woes that left him in 31st. Gordon watched a 111-point lead evaporate and when the season ended, Gordon lost the title to Labonte by 37 points.

Gordon and Evernham went on to win the title the following two years. At the end of 1999 though, Evernham decided to strike out on his own as a team owner.

In their final season together, Gordon and Evernham won five races (Gordon had a total of seven victories that year, but two were after Evernham left in October, although the wins came in cars prepared by Evernham prior to his departure).

Gordon would go on to win another title (2001), and though he did win six races in 2007, there has only been one victory in the win column for the last two seasons.

Since he left Hendrick, Evernham enjoyed only moderate success with his own team. In 2007 Evernham gave up a majority share of Evernham Motorsports to George Gillett and the team became Gillett-Evernham Motorsports. Then in January of this year the team merged with Petty Enterprises becoming Richard Petty Motorsports.

After giving up majority ownership of the team, Evernham seemed to try and distance himself even to the point that there was even talk that he would perhaps step away from racing altogether. He eventually took on a role as an analyst for ESPN.

As Johnson and Knaus celebrate their fourth consecutive championship, many are talking about a ‘dynasty’. It’s the same talk that was heard in the latter half of the 1990’s when Gordon and Evernham dominated NASCAR.

What it will take to challenge the Johnson-Knaus domination is a crew chief who has the same mindset of Chad Knaus; someone who is willing to push the envelope, learn all the aero nuances of NASCAR’s latest generation of racecar and exploit them to gain every little bit of advantage they can. Knaus has been known to push the envelope to the very edge and on more then one occasion has crossed the line earning fines and suspensions from NASCAR.

During his time Evernham was also known for pushing the envelope, and on more then one occasion also drew the ire of NASCAR. In 1995, Evernham was fined $60,000 for an unapproved chassis part and in 1997 there was the famous ‘T-Rex’ Chevy that Gordon raced and won with, in the All-Star race. Shortly after NASCAR wrote rules that ensured the car would never race again.

Combine Gordon’s lack of performance over the last two seasons with Evernham’s desire to get back into racing and a reunion of the pair is certainly a real possibility.

When the 2009 season ended in Homestead, Evernham let it be known in several published reports that he would like to get back into day-to-day operations. He made no secret of the fact that he wants to give up his minority stake in Richard Petty Motorsports and be released from a non-compete clause he has in his contract with the organization. Evernham also revealed that while ESPN has offered a contract for next season, he has yet to sign it.

The pieces are falling into place and with Evernham’s skill and Gordon’s talent together again, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus could have some real competition in 2010.

And NASCAR could be in for quite a show.
 

dpkimmel2001

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From the interview that I heard with him last week on Moody's show, I highly doubt that it will ever happen. He said numerous times that he doesn't want to go back to sitting on top of the box. He does not want to dedicate the amount of time that it would take to be a successful crew chief again. He did say that he was not opposed to being in a consultant type role to help someone in that position.
 
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djb7272

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Jan 3, 2009
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Combine Gordon’s lack of performance over the last two seasons


Lack of performance???? He finished 7th last year in points not great but not terrible and 3rd this year in points god I'll bet ya 35 other drivers would kill to have that lack of performance!!! There were only 2 drivers better than him this year in points how is that lack of performance??? Please explain! Thanks
 

djb7272

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It was more of a rhetorical question. But anyone who thinks Jeff has a lack of performance could explain it to me.
 

flap_jackson

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Nov 10, 2008
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As much as I love the idea, I don't think Jeff's in the championship mindset anymore. Put it this way, there's a lot more guys out there that want it more than him.
 

Snoozer

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Oct 13, 2008
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Canada Eh!
As much as I love the idea, I don't think Jeff's in the championship mindset anymore. Put it this way, there's a lot more guys out there that want it more than him.

I don't know. In 07 and this year he led in top 10s tied for the most top 5s this year too (in 07 he broke the record for most top tens in the modern era). I know he hasn't had the wins he's used to but he's still putting the numbers up there in my opinion. I think he's got one more title in him. though it'll be more clear by April or May next year.
 

Calypso

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That article has about as much credibility as the hosts of TMD. And the likelyhood of that happening is the same as Richard Petty driving the 43 next year.

NASCAR season is over not much talk going on over here now, have to post some kind of article to get people talking again and it worked. Weather there is credibility to it or not which I agree with you that there isn't, there isn't much credibility to alot that gets said on here.
 

Calypso

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As much as I love the idea, I don't think Jeff's in the championship mindset anymore. Put it this way, there's a lot more guys out there that want it more than him.

I Totally Disagree.... I think Jeff is just as hungry for another championship as anyone. I could never say one driver is hungrier than the next to win a championship..
 

semipenguin

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Oct 11, 2008
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The boat of future champions has sailed and Jeff Gordon's name is not on any of those trophies :worried:

Too many other drivers are now in line ahead of Jeff. He's a great driver and will continue to win races but I can't see him winning another championship.
 

mghtx

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Oct 23, 2008
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Too many other drivers are now in line ahead of Jeff. He's a great driver and will continue to win races but I can't see him winning another championship.

One thing I liked about Jeff was that he could take a bad car to the front. UNTIL the cot came along. I used to marvel at Jeff's ability to take an ill handling car and manhandle it to a win or top 5. I don't see him doing that anymore with this new car.
 

Calypso

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I have to disagree, I have listened to Jeff's in car for years now and even this year have seen when his car is shit and he pulls out top 2 finishes with one of those cars.
 

semipenguin

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What the heck am I missing here? Didn't he finish 3rd in points? :scratch:

Yes he did. And let's look at his 3rd place finish this year and compare it to his 2007 season.

In 2007 Jeff Gordon had 6 wins. Only one of which came in a COT.

In 2008 JG had no wins.

In 2009 JG had one win.

He is far better in the old car than he has been in the COT. That's not saying he's not going to win anymore races. I think He'll pass DW, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough before his driving career is over.

But win more championships? I can't see it. That's not to say he can't. Terry Labonte went 12 years between championships. Can Jeff Gordon do that, I'm sure he can. I just think he won't. Something about the car, the crew chief, and the driver just aren't right.

But just like Kurt Busch did in 2004, all you have to do is get into the chase and you have a shot at the title. Maybe JG will get that 5th championship, but if he doesn't, that will in no way diminish his career :)
 

dpkimmel2001

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There are certainly many ways to look at stats and we all have our opinions. While you can't see him ever wining another championship, I see it the exact opposite. He's second only to Jimmie in most all stats over the past four years. I think we'll be seeing him seated on the stage again as a driver, so I'll agree to disagree.