Mayfield: Evernham's love life sunk No. 19 team

August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Mayfield: Evernham's love life sunk No. 19 team


BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Nextel Cup owner Ray Evernham declined on Friday to discuss court allegations that his relationship with developmental driver Erin Crocker led to the downfall of the No. 19 team and former driver Jeremy Mayfield.
Mayfield alleged in an Aug. 9 lawsuit filed in Iredale (N.C.) County to block his termination that Evernham was an absentee manager largely because of his "close personal relationship with a female driver he engages to drive on NASCAR's ARCA, Truck and Busch Series."
"That relationship became a subject of considerable discussion and distraction in the Nextel Cup garage area during the 2006 season," the court document said.
The document did not directly name Crocker, but she is the only female driver employed by Evernham Motorsports.
Evernham, who was in the garage with Crocker at Michigan International Speedway during qualifying for Sunday's race, issued the following statement through his public relations staff.
"The lawsuit is over and I'm not going to discuss the allegations," he said. "I am looking forward to putting together the best race team I can with Elliott Sadler and a great group of sponsors.
"I'm also looking forward to getting Kasey Kahne back in the top 10 and to keep Scott Riggs on the path to Victory Lane."
Sadler, who was given his immediate release from the No. 38 car of Robert Yates Racing earlier this week, moved forward by qualifying second in the No. 19 that Mayfield had driven since 2002.
He said Mayfield's allegations weren't a concern.
"I haven't read a lot of the stuff that's been going on," Sadler said. "I've been trying to stay away from it. To me, Ray has been amazing. He has been unbelievably patient, working with me, working with the guys, making sure we have all of our stuff ready for next year.
"We pretty much didn't talk about any kind of contract stuff, any kind of problems that's gone on in the past. Both of us want to put all that behind us and it's kind of a fresh start here at Michigan."
The terms of the settlement forbid both parties from talking about certain allegations in the lawsuit, which was decided in Mayfield's favor.
But both parties actively attacked the other in the lawsuit.
Mayfield and business manager Dale Cagle accused Evernham of being an absentee owner and providing inferior equipment.
"Unfortunately, as we all know, Ray has been distracted this year by outside events -- I don't need to elaborate -- and the leadership void that developed assured that the 19 team would never get what it needed to be competitive," Cagle said in a letter dated Aug. 8.
"For all intents and purposes, Ray has been an absentee owner/manager who has not been actively engaged in the affairs or operations of the 19 car. The fact is, and any fair person would have to admit, Jeremy has not had a competitive team, he has not had competitive cars to drive ... These too are clear breaches of the driving services contract."
Evernham accused Mayfield of missing meetings to make the car better, for purposely wrecking and performing poorly. He also said Mayfield did not give his best effort to promote the team and its sponsors.
Evernham referred to the July 23 race at Pocono where Mayfield pitted on Lap 175 of a 200-lap race for a flat tire that wasn't flat.
He also referred to an Aug. 7 crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that led to Mayfield falling out of the top 35 in owners' points that guarantee a spot in the field each week.
"I watched Mayfield wreck his car early in the race," Evernham said in his deposition. "He slowed dramatically to let other cars pass the 19 in Turn 1 and then brushed the wall at two places.
"This wreck was done in a manner to wreck the 19 but not to harm Mayfield. Based on my experience, I believe Mayfield's conduct in wrecking the car was on purpose. Sam Johns, my competition director, agreed with my opinion."
Evernham said there was no factual support to suggest he gave Mayfield inferior equipment. He said Mayfield "disparaged the Evernham team and me personally," and brought forth several witnesses for support.
Chuck Efaw, a mechanic for the 19, testified that Mayfield did not give his best effort.
"At the race in Loudon, N.H., last month, Shana Mayfield, Jeremy's wife, said to me, 'I told Jeremy he better not have that car in the top 35 at the end of the season.'"
"I took this to mean that Jeremy knows he will be driving for a competing race team next season, so it would be to his advantage to put the 19 at a competitive disadvantage going into next season," Efaw testified.
Kirk Almquist, the car director for the 19, testified that "Jeremy's actions have been extremely damaging to the team and our sponsors."
Almquist referred to a conversation with Mayfield at New Hampshire in which Mayfield told him, "Don't trust Ray. Ray is [expletive] with me."
He said Mayfield added, "If Ray wants to get rid of me, maybe I will stay and make Ray pay me for the rest of my contract."
According to the court documents, Evernham and Cagle met in June to discuss the relationship between Evernham and Mayfield.
During that meeting, the documents said Evernham planned to sign Sadler but assured Mayfield it was to drive a fourth team and not the No. 19. That was consistent with what Evernham said earlier this week in a conference call announcing Sadler as his new driver.
When it was reported that Sadler had been recruited to drive the 19, Mayfield was called by a representative of EMS to say the story was wrong.
It also was during that June meeting, according to the documents, that Evernham invited Mayfield to "explore options for 2007."
On July 31, Cagle informed Evernham to inform him that Mayfield was close to signing with another team, which NASCAR.COM reported was Bill Davis Racing, and that Mayfield would need his release from 2007.
The following week, Mayfield crashed at Indianapolis. Cagle was informed a day later that Bill Elliott would drive the 19 the next week at Watkins Glen International.
A few days later, Evernham told reporters at Watkins Glen that Mayfield was terminated.
By then, Mayfield had sought a court injunction to keep Elliott out of the car at Watkins Glen. He said earlier in the week that merely was to posture himself to be paid for the rest of the season, something Evernham initially did not want to do.
After the court ruled in Mayfield's favor, Evernham representatives contacted Cagle to inform him that Mayfield would be compensated for the remainder of 2006.
An announcement on Mayfield's new deal with Bill Davis Racing is expected within the next week, leaving both parties to move forward.
Kahne, who is 11th in points with four races left before the 10-race Chase to the Nextel Cup field is set, for one is glad.
"It's good that it's over with," he said. "We know what we have and we just don't have to worry about it anymore. We will start working with Elliott and just make our teams better and everybody at Evernham Motorsports
August 19th, 2006  
Heehee...this is better than watching the soaps during the day!
August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel
As NASCAR turns....

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