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 Friday, September 24
Evernham isn't leaving Gordon just yet
 
ESPN.com news services

 Ray Evernham will be Jeff Gordon's crew chief this weekend at Dover Downs International Raceway. But the partnership that produced three Winston Cup championships may be in its final days.

In an interview Thursday with ESPN's John Kernan, Evernham did not deny reports that he could be leaving Gordon and the Hendrick Motorsports Team. But when asked about reports he could leave as early as this week, Evernham said he would be in Gordon's pits for Sunday's MBNA Gold 400.

Jeff Gordon
The team of Jeff Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham has produced 47 Winston Cup wins and three championships.

"We don't have a direction yet, as far as my future is concerned with Hendrick Motorsports," Evernham said. "We are still discussing that.

"(But) the truth is not nearly as good as what the media is making up. We are going to Dover this weekend to try to win another race for Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick."

Evernham would not discuss the situation futher on Friday prior to qualifying for the MBNA Gold 400. Hendrick Motorsports plans an announcement next month concerning Gordon's team.

Gordon was unable to shed much light on reports that Evernham is leaving the No. 24 team.

"The plan all along has been to take our guys and step them up in our program," he said. "That's been Ray's wishes.

"It looked like things were going to be taking place anyway, and we are basically stepping into a little of that right now. We're still trying to figure out how everything is going to shake out."

Several media reports out of Charlotte have Evernham leaving Hendrick as early as after Sunday's race. And Gordon is reportedly miffed that management at Hendrick Motorsports has resisted Evernham's attempts to be promoted to the new position of team manager to oversee all of its race cars.

A team spokesman said Wednesday that Evernham would be the team's crew chief this weekend at Dover.

Evernham joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1992. He has guided Gordon to 47 Winston Cup wins and his contract runs through the 2006 season. He also shares ownership of Gordon's Busch Grand National team.

It became clear earlier this season when Hendrick Motorsports courted Tommy Baldwin Jr. as Evernham's possible replacement that Evernham wasn't planning to return next year as the No. 24 crew chief. But when Baldwin chose to stay with Bill Davis Racing as Ward Burton's crew chief, it was assumed Evernham, who has expressed his desire to step back from his current position, would move to a management position at Hendrick.

Recent newspaper reports, however, have suggested that Evernham could be leaving Hendrick Motorsports altogether. But Evernham reiterated his commitment to Hendrick Thursday.

"There is no friction at all between me, Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon," Evernham said. "We are giving each other our full and 100-percent support."

Last weekend in New Hampshire, word circulated about a meeting Evernham had with Gordon's crew that Sunday morning. Sources told the Charlotte Observer that Evernham told the crew he would soon be leaving as crew chief.

 


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