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Jeff Gordon Feels Betrayed After His Former Crew Chief Admits to Helping His Bitter Nemesis Dale Earnhardt

Published 02/23/2024, 1:56 PM EST

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When it comes to some of the best NASCAR battles of all time, nothing quite beats the rivalry between Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon. It was a contest between a seasoned professional and a young gun. Considering the 1995 season alone, it would be an understatement to say the competition on track was cutthroat. However, Gordon recently came across some lesser-known facts about that time. And he may not have particularly liked what he read.

During the intense rivalry, Ray Evernham was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports. But little did Gordon know that Evernham and the rival camp, led by Andy Petree, were working together behind the scenes back then. Spilling the beans about the secret pact, Evernham disclosed the details of the partnership, and it took the former Cup Series champion by surprise.

Jeff Gordon feels things could’ve been different with Earnhardt Sr. had they known

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On SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Jeff Gordon told fans how shocking this revelation was to him. He said, “When somebody comes out with a book 30 years later, you realize the things you thought were going on were not going on. And read a book and realize that maybe things were a lot different [than you understood].” Presumably referring to the book, ‘Trophies and Scars,’ Gordan revealed that he wished Dale Sr. had known about the alliance between the No.3 and No.24 cars.

I wish that Andy Petree and whoever Ray was working with then had told Dale Earnhardt Sr. that we were doing these kinds of things. Because I promise on the race track, he didn’t treat me like we were harmonious,” Gordon added. However, when it came to their off-track relationship, ‘The Intimidator’ even played the role of Gordon’s mentor. And the vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports expressed his respect for the legend.

He took me under his wing at times to help me just navigate the sport, the media, the fans, the business side, the merchandise.” However, it was a completely different ball game when their helmets were on. “On the racetrack, he’d throw all that out the window. Andy and Ray, I think they got along really well. Dale and I not so much. Not on the racetrack.”

Likely feeling a twinge of betrayal at the hands of his crew chief for not letting him in on this secret alliance, Gordon concluded, “I’m going to have a talk with my man Ray Evernham after this call.

Evernham was a fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and they got along very well. But during the 1995 championship-winning season, he had to compete against his idol, and he fulfilled those duties to the very best of his abilities.

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Ray Evernham explained his equation with Dale Earnhardt Sr. during his time at HMS

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RCR and Dale Earnhardt were eyeing a third Cup Series championship in a row. But Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Evernham, had other ideas. Going toe-to-toe against ‘The Man in Black,’ they finally put an end to RCR’s dominating streak and won the championship. While Evernham was close with Dale Sr., he knew his job at HMS and delivered the goods for Jeff Gordon, helping him win his maiden Cup Series title.

Speaking on the Dale Jr. Download podcast, Evernham explained his mindset of going against and beating his hero. “Jeff and your daddy, they’d run into one another on the racetrack, even in practice and stuff. But that was up to them. But for me, it was difficult as it happened so fast. Here was a guy who was my hero. He’d watch me run my modified at Wilkesboro and things like that. Then, ‘Man, you got to race this guy.’ But you also know that if you’re going to be great, you got to go through this because there was no way to win that championship other than going through the 3 car. As simple as that.”

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Needless to say, the rivalry between the two teams and the drivers was one of the most memorable moments in NASCAR’s history.

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad