A reunion between the “Rainbow Warriors” could be in the works.
Rumors are swirling that former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Ray Evernham could be interested in returning to the NASCAR’s most dominant team.
When asked about the possibility, both team owner Rick Hendrick and driver Jeff Gordon didn't say "no."
Could one of the most dominant driver/crew chief combos ever be reunited?
Gordon did say that he didn't expect to see Evernham back on top of the pit box again, but that he wouldn't rule out a possible job as team manager or engineer.
"We've always stayed great friends, I admire him, he's a sharp guy and he's done a lot, obviously, in this sport," Gordon said of Evernham in a Roanoke Times article. "We're always looking to find ways to make ourselves better.”
"If [an Evernham reunion] was ever the case, it wouldn't be in a crew chief role. If it's an engineer, if it's a team manager, whatever options are out there for anybody we always take them [seriously],” Gordon further said. With my experience with Ray being so positive in the past, I certainly wouldn't throw it out. It's not something that is happening, but it's not something that I would ever say never would."
Hendrick didn't give any indication that anything is in the works either, but did say that he and Evernham have remained close throughout the years.
"We consult with each other all the time," Hendrick said in the same Roanoke Times article.
"That hasn't changed since he left. He calls me, and I talk to him. We share information. We think a lot alike, and I respect his knowledge a ton,” Hendrik continues on. “We talk almost every week. We've been consultants to each other."
Evernham got his start in racing back when he was 26 years old. He began working for the now defunct IROC Series as a chassis engineer. Evernham later went to work for Alan Kulwikci's team in 1991, but only lasted six months before he had a personality conflict.
Evernham then was hired by Ford to oversee the company's NASCAR teams. Gordon at the time was a driver for the Ford team of Bill Davis Racing in the Busch Series.
Gordon requested Evernham to become his crew chief, and although BDR didn't seem interested, they brought him on board. The duo had worked previously on a Pontiac team, and Ford Motor Company had paid Evernhams salary that year.
Upon moving to the Cup Series, the combination paid off huge. The duo scored 47 wins and three championships during the time the team was nicknamed the “Rainbow Warriors.”
Evernham was at the center of controversy in 1995, having been fined the second largest amount ever at $60,000 for an unapproved chassis part—inside the NASCAR grey area that HMS has always loved to venture into.
In 1999, Evernham became a pioneer in bringing Dodge back into the sport and opened his own two-car team with Bill Elliot and Casey Atwood.
Following the 2007 season, Evernham Motorsports sold a majority of its interest to businessman George Gillet, Jr. and became Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Then, following the 2008 season, another merger with Richard Petty Enterprises occurred.
Evernham is now a partial owner of Richard Petty Motorsports along with Gillett, Richard Petty, and Boston Ventures. The team continues to field Dodges for Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser), Elliot Sadler (No. 19 Best Buy), Reed Sorenson (No. 43 McDonalds), and a partial schedule for A.J. Allmendinger (No. 44 Valvoline).
With all the partial owners on the team, Evernham may be looking to get out of ownership all together in hopes to be reunited with Gordon and form the new age Rainbow Warrior combo.
If the duo were to reunite, it could be big trouble for the other 42 drivers on any given Sunday.
Never say never.