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Gordon's Crew Chief To Quit

Jeff Gordon is losing the only crew chief he has had in his Winston Cup career.

CNN-SI reported Friday that Ray Evernham is quitting after helping Gordon win three championships in the last four seasons.

The network, citing no sources, said Evernham will act as Gordon's crew chief for this weekend's MNBA Gold 400, but mechanic Brian Whitesell will make the race-day calls. Whitesell will replace Evernham when he leaves, perhaps before the end of the season.

Evernham and John Hendrick, head of Hendrick Motorsports, had no comment when asked about the report Friday at Dover Downs International Speedway. The company plans an announcement next month concerning Gordon's team.

Gordon was unable to shed much light on the report.

"The plan all along has been to take our guys and step them up in our program," he said. "That's been Ray's wishes."

"It looked like things were going to be taking place anyway, and we are basically stepping into a little of that right now. We're still trying to figure out how everything is going to shake out."

Evernham has helped Gordon win 47 Winston Cup races. For months, there have been reports of friction between Evernham and the Hendrick organization. His contract runs through the 2006 season, but CNN-SI said a release is being negotiated.

The prospect of Evernham's departure has caused speculation that he will start his own Winston Cup team. This season, he and Gordon started a Busch Grand National team under the banner of Gordon-Evernham Motorsports.

CNN-SI said Gordon is expected to sign a long-term contract with Hendrick, which would include partial ownership of all three Hendrick teams.

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