Ray Evernham back at ESPN as analyst

After a year away from the broadcast booth, Ray Evernham is returning as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN for the 2012 season.

Evernham, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief, will be part of ESPN's team at Daytona Speedweeks and will be featured on multiple network shows, including "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter."

Evernham was previously an analyst with ESPN from 2008-10 but left before the 2011 season to take a consulting job with Hendrick Companies.

"I chose to take a year off from ESPN out of respect for ESPN and Hendrick Motorsports," Evernham said in a statement. "I didn't want to create any perceived conflict of interest while I got my bearings at Hendrick and didn't want to cause distraction to either company.

"Now that I'm settled at Hendrick Performance, I don't have any involvement on the racing side of the operations and it frees me from any conflict with NASCAR teams. Mr. Hendrick and I have worked out an agreement that allows me to return to the ESPN team.

"... I'm glad to be coming back to ESPN. I really enjoy the team camaraderie at ESPN and I'm very much at home with this group from my previous three years. Stock car racing is my passion and I'm looking forward to being back involved. I'm excited about the momentum NASCAR has going into the 2012 season."

Evernham won three championships and 47 races as Jeff Gordon's crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports.

"We welcome Ray back to the team and look forward to enhancing our coverage of NASCAR with the knowledge and expertise he brings to the table," said Rich Feinberg, ESPN's vice president of motorsports production. "He's a solid professional and a well-respected voice in the sport."

ESPN's NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage begins July 29 at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.