Ray Evernham, the man who guided Jeff Gordon to his first three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships, is back at work in the competition department at Hendrick Motorsports, where he will be lending his expertise to the entire four-car operation.
And, yes, he will be on the pit box for some races this season.
And the odds of Evernham replacing Steve Letarte as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief when Letarte moves to the TV booth next year?
"You have way less chance of me being a crew chief again than you do of getting hit with a meteorite," Evernham said in an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com. "This has nothing to do with Steve Letarte leaving."
The three-time Sprint Cup champion crew chief will work in a variety of roles in the Hendrick Motorsports competition department, helping out the management team led by president and chief operating officer Marshall Carlson and general manager Doug Duchardt.
"Mr. Hendrick (team owner Rick Hendrick) felt like I could make a difference in a lot of different areas and help take a load off some people," said Evernham. "And I think that’s where we’re headed. But I promise you, not even for one second was there any consideration of going and being anybody’s crew chief."
Jeff Gordon (left) stands with crew chief Ray Evernham during 1995 Daytona Speedweeks.
Evernham has worked with Rick Hendrick’s organization for the past several years, mostly focused on the automotive sector. But now that he’s moving back into the competition side, he felt the need to resign his analyst position with ESPN to avoid the potential for a conflict of interest.
And Evernham downplayed his new, expanded role with Hendrick, saying it was a return to home.
"It’s not some giant promotion or giant announcement or whatever," Evernham said. "Rick Hendrick and the Hendrick family have been really, really important to my life. Always. And even though going and doing the Dodge deal was great for me and it taught me a lot, I always missed being part of the Hendrick group.
"I’ve been back over there working with the guys on the automotive group, and I love those guys. They’re great,â said Evernham. "But being able to be on the racing side again, see some of my friends over there, work with the drivers and help where I can with experience or knowledge, it excites me."
But forget about Evernham being a crew chief again.
"It’s not about me going back on top of the box and calling that frigging two-tire stop and pulling some big trophy out of my butt," he said. "Those days are over."
Evernham will also spend time on his TV show "AmeriCarna," a joint venture he is equal partners with Hendrick in.