Evernham Looking Ahead

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Nobody needed an off weekend like Ray Evernham.

After a start to the season that has seen all three of his crew chiefs suspended, Scott Riggs crashing out early in Fontana followed by Kasey Kahne blowing an engine, the year has gotten off on the wrong foot to say the least.

But Evernham didn't have much time to lick his wounds this week, as his team was busy at work in Bristol for the "Car of Tomorrow's" final dress rehearsal.

Overall Evernham is pleased with the development of the Avenger, the make Dodge will use in the 16 COT races schedule for 2006.

"They were pretty happy with the 9 car," Evernham said of the Bristol test. "The 10 and 19 searched around trying different things. When we take three cars testing we go in three different directions. Those cars came back to a little bit closer on what we had decided on."

Testing is a somewhat tedious process, but Evernham knows what his team tries to gain.

"Just to learn about the car getting ready for the race at Bristol and learn where we stack up against the other teams, what your cars look like compared to their cars and make sure we had no issues with the front suspension geometry because it is different or ground clearance because that is dictated to you now," he said. "Just understanding how the car would work being built limited suspension travel versus what we’re used to running and then having a good luck at the NASCAR inspection process."

That inspection process will be a key component of the COT races, with a different set of criteria used by NASCAR than from the current Cup car.

"It’s new and it’s going to take time for NASCAR to get its system worked out," Evernham said. "When you build something for the first time and send it through, even though you think you’ve got areas that are right, everybody does things a little differently. I think it’ll go faster and faster as time goes on. In theory everything they’re doing should be better. It’s just going to take some time to get it right.”

With the COT test over and a few days off this weekend, Evernham is looking forward to the NEXTEL Cup schedule resuming at Las Vegas and a chance to put the first two weeks of disappointment behind.

"We’re looking forward to getting to Las Vegas and Atlanta and having our Dodge Dealers cars run good," he said. "We didn’t have a productive week at California and we’ve got to focus on some good, solid finishes to get those cars built up and solidly in the top 35 so we can concentrate on racing.”

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