THE SOUNDING BOARD
This is a page where I will most likely do what I am best at: rambling on and on about things that no one really cares about. Enjoy!
TODAY'S TOPIC: Ray Evernham's obsession with signing Jeremy MayfieldEarlier this season, Jeremy Mayfield was fired from the #12 Penske camp. While it came as a surprise to Ray Evernham, car owner for the #9 and #19 Dodge Intrepid teams, most race fans weren't all that shocked. The truth had shown itself. Still in his early thirties, Mayfield's glory days are over. If he ever had any... But Ray, good old stable Ray, manages to see things in drivers that, quite frankly, don't exist. And Mayfield is apparantly his newest find.
While Evernham likes to take credit for discovering Jeff Gordon, even that title belongs to the higher-ups at Hendrick Motorsports. So here is where he stands at this point: as of November 1, 2001, Evernham Motorsports owns two cars. One is driven by veteran Bill Elliot and the other by the recent pole winner Casey Atwood. Evernhams' selections for his drivers in 2001 should be solid enough to prove my point. When is the last time Bill Elliot won a race?? His teamate, now 21, and I were in elementary school. It's over for Bill, all that's left is his realization of it. And while Atwood has shown great improvement, Evernham is never going to allow him the chance to prove his worth.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm a Georgia girl, I was BORN to cheer for Elliot. And Casey... I adore the boy--he's one of the best out there in my mind... But he was the wrong choice for Evernhams' expectations in the summer of 2000. You can't just hand a teenage boy a race car and expect him to run with the big dogs the first race. His improvements, including winning a pole and having two top ten runs to date, have shown the world what he will one day doon a regular basis. Unfortunatley for Ray, Atwood's many future wins will not come in an Evernham Motorsports car, because Ray sees "great potential" in yet another driver.
Jeremy Mayfield was FIRED. FIRED. Why? Because he was sucking it up and making the entire Penske camp smell bad.
The best finishes for the #12 Penzoil team have come in the last month. What is the difference?? He was FIRED, I tell you! Mike Wallace has yet to have a dismal or even mediocore run in the car vacated by Mayfield. He has been one of the best drivers on the track for the last four races. Need I remnid you this is MIKE Wallace, the least talented, most unlikely-to win of the three Wallaces. But he's getting what seems to be a great team what they deserve, something Mayfield could never accomplish... But it seems two of the most notoriously difficult people to work with in NASCAR are forming a bond.
Here's the way I see things: Short of Bill Elliot FINALLY seeing the light and bowing out gracefully as Darrell Waltrip did, Casey Atwood will lose his ride at the end of this season. Evernham will sign Mayfield, and the #19 team will be in for another season of trying times. Atwood will meanwhile sign with #7 Ultra Motorsports team, which plans to switch from Ford to Dodge in 2002. They will then spend the 2002 season searching for a high-quality sponsor such as the one Atwood lost when he was punted from the Evernham stables. And who wins?? NO ONE! Evernham still has a team that sucks, Bill Elliot still drives around in circles not accomplishing anything, Ultra Motorsports is still sponsorless and poor Casey Atwood is never going to reach the potential Evernham correctly (for once) saw in him during his Busch Grand National days.
The solution to this is not that difficult: let things be. Keep the Eveernham teams with Evernham and let Mayfield sign with Ultra. Ray has really gotten his team off of the ground this year. Both the #9 and 19 have had some great runs, and both drivers feel they could easily score wins in 2002. I know things have been difficult for Evernham, with starting new teams, spearheading the Dodge program, and having a new owner and rookie driver. But he just needs to calm down and let nature take its course. Despite what I have already defined as poor driver choices for 2001, Ray has made the best of the situation. He has shown his potential as an owner, just as his youngest hire has shown his potential in the #19 car. And together they can realize that potential, something that will never happen with Jeremy Mayfield in the #19...
THE ULTIMATE REVENGE: Casey Atwood, after the aforementioned happens and he signs with Ultra, wins the Daytona 500...