Owners: George Gillett Jr. and Ray Evernham
Car and Drivers
No. 9 Budweiser
Kasey Kahne returns to drive the No. 9 car for the 2008 Sprint Cup season, but he will be getting a new sponsor. After being involved in the Chase for the Cup in 2006, he struggled a bit last season, finishing 19th in the Nextel Cup standings. He finished with one top-five finish and eight top-10 finishes, but he was a part of five accidents during the season. The No. 9 car has been pretty successful for Gillett Evernham Motorsports over the last few seasons. Kahne has guided it to three finishes in the top 20 in Cup points over the past four years. The No. 9 car finished in 20th in owner's points last season; that assures its participation in the first five races.
This will be the third season that Kahne will work with team director Kenny Francis. Francis has worked for Evernham for seven seasons, working with the No. 19 car before doing so in the same capacity with Kahne. Francis was partially responsible the car starting in the top five 15 times, with two poles, last season.
No. 19 Best Buy
Elliott Sadler will return to drive the No. 19 car for GEM, but like teammate Kahne, he will have new sponsorship. Sadler joined the company midway through the 2006 season, and last year was his first full season. Sadler finished in the top 10 twice last season and in the top 20 10 times. However, he finished 35th or worst in seven races. He ended the season in 25th place in the Nextel Cup standings. The No. 19 car has been very successful over the past few seasons. It made the Chase of the Cup in 2004 and 2005 when Jeremy Mayfield drove the car. Unfortunately, the car has not seen the same success over the past few seasons with Sadler as the driver. The No. 19 car finished 27th in owner's points last season, which guarantees its participation in the first five races.
The team director for the No. 19 car will be Rodney Childers, who took the job late in November 2007. Childers will be looking to build some chemistry with Sadler and help improve the car's performance on the track this season.
No. 10 Valvoline
Patrick Carpentier will go behind the wheel in the No. 10 car this season, replacing Scott Riggs, who left to race for Haas CNC Racing. Carpentier was named the driver for the car in October 2007. He raced in three Nextel Cup races last season to get his feet wet in stock car racing. His best finish as 22nd, which came in his first race. The No. 10 car had its struggles last season. It only finished in the top 10 once and was involved in three accidents. Riggs finished 36th in the Nextel Cup standings last season. Since the No. 10 car did not finish last season in the top 35 in owner's points, it will have to qualify for the first five races of the season.
Mike Shiplett will take over as the team director for Carpentier and the No. 10 car. Last season, Shiplett worked with the No. 9 car in the Busch Series (now the Nationwide Series) and was very successful with several different drivers. Shiplett and Carpentier will have to build a chemistry, among other things, to be able to qualify for races.
Equipment and Resources
All of the Gillett Evernham cars use the Dodge Magnum engine, which is built by Gillett Evernham Engines. The engines have been pretty sturdy for the three cars. They only caused problems in three races last season between the three cars, with the No. 19 car not having any DNFs because of engine troubles. The team had some success with the Car of Tomorrow last season.
The big news for Gillett Evernham Motorsports was the change of sponsorship for two cars. The No. 9 car picked up one of the biggest sponsors when they signed with Budweiser. Last season, Budweiser sponsored the No. 8 car driven Dale Earnhardt Jr. When Earnhardt moved on, Budweiser found a home on the Kahne's car.
The other sponsorship they picked up is Best Buy for the No. 19 car. Last season, Best Buy sponsored Haas CNC Racing's No. 66 car but decided not to renew the relationship. This season, Best Buy will share the primary sponsorship of Sadler's car with Stanley Tools, but Best Buy will be featured in more races than Stanley Tools.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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