Evernham back behind the wheel

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Associated Press Winston Cup car owner Ray Evernham will return to his roots this weekend when he races in a 12-lap shootout at Wall Township Stadium in New Jersey. Evernham will drive a Dodge in a Modified class on Saturday against Martin Truex Jr., who has raced in the Modified and Busch North Series. Dodge has been a great supporter of my efforts in Winston Cup racing, Evernham said. When they asked me to help support the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, I couldnt pass up the opportunity. Ive always threatened the guys that I might get back behind the wheel someday and now I have the chance. Not only that, but I get to do it in front of my hometown crowd. It should be pretty exciting. Evernham, a Hazlet, N.J., native, started his racing career at the Wall Township track and went on to win what was then known as the Modern Stock championship in 1977. He eventually gave up driving and moved to North Carolina, where he became Jeff Gordons crew chief and won three Winston Cup championships. Evernham later spearheaded Dodges return to Winston Cup racing as a team owner of the cars driven by Bill Elliott and Jeremy Mayfield. The NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series is NASCARs national championship program for thousands of weekly short track competitors. Drivers race at their home track one of 80 short tracks divided among eight geographic regions. FULL RECOVERY: NHRA Top Fuel rookie Brandon Bernstein is expected to make a full recovery from the accident he was in May 18th in Englishtown, N.J. Bernstein seriously injured his back in the first-round crash, but is not expected to need surgery, Instead, the 30-year-old son of Kenny Bernstein will probably need a full back brace for the next three months. Hes being treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. I know Brandon wants more than anything else to drive again, Kenny Bernstein said. Ive already said it and I want to emphasize it again: As soon as hes ready to get back into the Budweiser dragster, hell be in the drivers seat. Kenny Bernstein will replace his son this weekend at the OReilly Summer Nationals, a race he won in 1997 and 2001. Since NHRA rules mandate that points earned at national events are awarded to the driver and not the car, Brandons absence has ended his championship hopes for 2003. AN APOLOGY: LMS president H.A. Humpy Wheeler apologized to fans for inconveniences caused by the rain at Sundays Coca-Cola 600, and promised to make improvements to the grounds before the tracks October race. In the 44-year history of the Coca-Cola 600, I dont think weve ever encountered so many weather-related problems, Wheeler said. We worked hard to dry our parking lots and find alternative places for people to park. But despite our best efforts, Mother Nature won this battle. BAD BREAK: Dale Earnhardt Jr.s series-best streak of running at the finish of races ended at the Coca-Cola 600 at 35. His team replaced the entire brake assembly on both rear wheels in about 25 minutes, and he was just about to go back on the track when the race was called.

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