Monday, November 29, 2010

Waiting For Evernham To Get Back In The Game



It's no secret that Ray Evernham has been itching to get back in the NASCAR game. Confined to ESPN's Infield Pit Studio as the third wheel behind Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, Evernham is limited to a sentence or two in his TV comments.

On select Mondays, Evernham is put in the tight "Bestwick box" of NASCAR Now. "Agree or disagree" is a favorite term of host Allen Bestwick as he holds a tight leash on his panelists. When the show is over, Evernham records segments used during the week where he points at car parts a la the legendary Tim Brewer. Something's got to give.

Sunday morning Evernham dropped the following message on Twitter: "Firming up 2011 plans and will make a formal announcement when it all comes together. Will make sure to tweet before announcement is made."

Before the Homestead race, Evernham confirmed that he has not signed with ESPN for 2011 and is weighing his options. Ruled out is working as a crew chief, traveling the entire Sprint Cup Series circuit or taking on a full time role in senior management for a NASCAR team or manufacturer.

So, where might Evernham go? SPEED is in a transition right now, but that network only televises the Camping World Truck Series and two non-points events on the Sprint Cup Series side. The Monday through Thursday NASCAR Race Hub show mixes interviews, field reports and highlights. FOX and TNT are set in their on-air line-ups. The TV options appear slim.

All of this Evernham conversation began after he announced that he was suddenly free from his legal entanglements with what is now called Richard Petty Motorsports. Even Rick Hendrick chimed in. "Ray and I are very close,” Hendrick told scenedaily.com's Bob Pockrass. “He’s a very smart guy, and we had talked over the last year about things that I’m doing that he likes. So there’s just an array of things that we do in our companies that Ray has been in and around for years, so I’m sure that Ray and I will be doing something together, and hopefully it will be fun.”

Many fans believe that part of the "fun" Hendrick refers to is getting the struggling dynasty that is Dale Earnhardt Jr. back on the right track. With yet another crew chief gone, Junior continues to be an enigma where many fans are concerned. Talented, yet troubled and perhaps more in need of a father figure who speaks his language than another high-tech crew chief chasing the COT dynamic.

The NASCAR on ESPN management has been mum on the issue. Perhaps, still in shock from the TV debacle that was the Homestead coverage. Evernham worked well on TV and when paired with Ricky Craven provided a wonderful discussion of NASCAR topics and issues in the news. Evernham's absence on TV would be a loss for fans.

So, we wait for news that should prove to be interesting. Will ESPN stick with Evernham if he works at HMS? Will Junior prove to be a part of the equation? Perhaps, a wild card like SPEED might step into the mix and offer Evernham his own TV project? The answers should be coming our way shortly.

We invite your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

18 comments:

JD said...

I wouldn't totally rule out the possibility of Evernham taking a job with NASCAR. His knowledge of the sport, combined with his likeablility by fans could be used by NASCAR to figure out the slipping ratings issue. I do, however, think it far more likely he will take a consultant type position with HMS and continue to work for ESPN.
Bumpdrafter.blogspot.com

Gymmie said...

Well it'll be fun to see what he does :). I liked that show he did a few years ago with RayJ. I know some didn't like it tho.

If he does go to HMS to help Jr. it'll be good to see :).

Anonymous said...

Ray would be the top notch candidate to take John Darby's job within NASCAR.

Doubt NASCAR can afford him though.

Jojaye said...

Maybe helping the 88 team or maybe over at StewartHaas? I like the idea of Ray taking Darbys job, but would NASCAR empower him? He doesn't strike me as the BZF type of yesman

Anonymous said...

"The NASCAR on ESPN... Perhaps, still in shock from the TV debacle that was the Homestead coverage." Do you know something we do not? My impression is that espn is patting each other on the back for a job well done. Of course, they live in another universe than I. MC

Anonymous said...

he becomes the 'super' crew chief for Hendrick

deals with major issues (like Jr) and the 48 and 24 crew switch

takes the heat off Rick

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:26PM,

No back patting going on at the WWL. Full crisis mode. No producer for next year, PXP failure and ratings/viewer feedback lower than almost any pro product on TV.

They can't drag this Sprint Cup Series disaster around for three more years.

Going to be surprised if we don't see some major behind-the-lens changes.

JD

Palmetto said...

Gods of us all, it's a photo of 'Mustache Jeff'! I though his PR firm had pulled all of them from circulation. JD, if the phone rings, don't answer it; it's Gordon's lawyers.

GinaV24 said...

I'm hoping that my early Christmas present is the announcement that Ray is coming back to HMS as a "consultant". Not just for Jr, but for my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon.

Keeping my fingers firmly crossed!

GinaV24 said...

It would be nice if NASCAR would read the fan feedback being provided by the "fan council" and on this blog. That way they might be able to buy a clue as to why the fans are so unhappy, but that would assume that someone is willing to tell BZF that he needs to listen.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Palmetto,

Back when he was racing for Ford in the Busch Series we had him on TWIN with Eli Gold a lot. He is a great guy.

Used to give him flack about looking like he never shaved, so the 'stache came along. Horrible!

Gina, I will have a column on NASCAR "discovering" that fans use those daggone Internets on Monday night 8PM'ish.

Buschseries61 said...

Evernham got out of the Petty mess, it would be funny to watch him get out of the ESPN mess too.

If Ray Evernham leaves, Allen Bestwick is the only sane person left in the infield studio.

KoHoSo said...

After what I have seen this year on ESPN, I would hope at this point that Evernham is not yet signed because Disney is writing a new, much larger contract for him to fill a much bigger role. While not meaning to be mean toward Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett, they have failed to grow as announcers and often repeat the same phrases over and over again (especially DJ who is could easily be the object of a good drinking game if one has to take a shot every time he says, "We'll just have to wait and see.").

Of course, that might not be fully AP's and DJ's fault as it is the duty of the play-by-play announcer to bring the best out of his color commentators. Unfortunately, Dr. Jerry Punch was no leader in that position and, sadly, Marty Reid cannot seem to handle any race that has more than 20 cars in it or properly take direction or assume control.

I do not fully blame Reid for all of his blunders or AP and DJ for being repetitive as it must be a strain on all of them to stick with ESPN's pre-determined story lines. However, television is not an industry known for its patience no matter how nice all three of those men seem to be away from the booth. If I were the person in charge, after having seen the chemistry between Bestwick, Evernham, and Craven, I would be looking to scratch Ray's itch with a sack full of money to keep him from going back to the garage if at all possible. Failing that, I go after Ken Schrader even if I have to pay to sponsor his racing activities, pair him with Craven as a younger guy/older guy team with AB who needs to be at the helm...period.

Also, Mr. Daly wrote in his piece...

"Agree or disagree" is a favorite term of host Allen Bestwick as he holds a tight leash on his panelists.

Gee, I wonder what could have ever given AB inspiration to hold a tight reign on his panel? :-D

Mule said...

Somebody interviewed Ray btw Phoenix & Homestead, can't remember who. He pretty much said what he wanted to do. No ownership, no crew chief, no director of competition. Doesn't want the weekly grind of the race track. Would prefer to be a special projects guy. What that job description would be, no one knows. I look for him to get back with Rick Hendrick and still dabble in TV a bit. Which is bad news for the competition. I'm sure Mr. H would create a position for him, and Kasey will be there in 2012. I can't wait. Home the media boys pull a rabbit out of their hat and not dash all my enthusiasm by the time they Get to Texas.

terri said...

I agree with anonymous - I don't Ray Evernham fits in now with any one team. He'll be something big in Nascar itself. And he'll be good at it.

There's no reason for him to go back to just one team. There are bigger fish for him to fry.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciated Ray's objective analyses of a racing situation. He will be missed on Espn. In the Corporate world, succession planning is essential to assure continuity of the business. Rick Hendrick's comments suggest to me that perhaps Ray will be groomed to take over at HMS given that Rick, like all of us, is getting along in age. Rick could do a lot worse than Ray

GinaV24 said...

I always liked the 'stache pictures of Jeff. Nice to know that JD considers him a good guy, too. I think other people have replaced him as "most hated" in the world of NASCAR. I know that it wouldn't work for Ray to be Jeff's crew chief again - they aren't the same people as they were back in the early 90's, but it is obvious when you see them talking together that the friendship held even with all the changes and if Hendrick can find a role for Ray in his organization, it would be great.

I hope he doesn't go to work for NASCAR - Ray never struck me as a "yes" man and in the current environment, it would be awful.

JD, can't wait for the column on NASCAR's "discovery" about the fans internet use!

Anonymous said...

Evernham doesn't fit in with SPEED and it's goofy, hillbilly way of doing TV, he's way to smart and articulate. The debacle was two ignorant Waltrips in the booth for the truck race.