Evernham close to selling portion of operation to Gillett Jr.

Updated: May 29, 2007, 2:39 PM ET
By Marty Smith | ESPN.com

Ray Evernham expects to finalize the sale of an unspecified portion of his Nextel Cup Series operation to Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. within 60 to 90 days, the team owner told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

Right now we're getting further and further behind, resource-wise, for two reasons: people like Rick [Hendrick] and Bobby Ginn and [Joe] Gibbs have got a lot more money to spend, and now [Gillett] will fix a lot of that problem for me, for stability.

Ray Evernham

"It's not done, but we're working on it pretty hard," Evernham said. "Honestly, I'm flying to Chicago and we're hammering through some things. Things are looking really positive, but it's not done.

"Quite honestly, it's not going to be done for another 60 to 90 days. It takes a long, long time, but it looks good. We've agreed to go forward, but there's so much legal stuff that's got to be done. It takes months. I feel positive it'll get done. I really do."

Evernham chose not to divulge the exact percentage of his company Gillett would acquire, but did say both gentlemen would have a "substantial stake in the business side of things." Evernham also said he would still run EMS' day-to-day operations.

Evernham said there are multiple contracts to wade through and further due diligence to complete. Once done, Evernham says the deal would instantly elevate EMS toward the Nextel Cup elite.

"Right now we're getting further and further behind, resource-wise, for two reasons: people like Rick [Hendrick] and Bobby Ginn and [Joe] Gibbs have got a lot more money to spend, and now [Gillett] will fix a lot of that problem for me, for stability," Evernham said.

"But he's going to allow me to get back more on the car side, which is where I really want us to get back and work with the guys. It's a home run for me to get this thing done."

Evernham cited Gillett's many business interests, including ownership of the Canadiens' National Hockey League franchise and Liverpool Football Club soccer team, as key elements to the potential business-to-business -- and therefore sponsorship -- opportunities this deal would create.

"The best partnerships are when one guy's good at something and the other guy's good at something else -- words and music or whatever you want to call it," Evernham said. "George and I are like that, words and music. What I do, he doesn't do, and what he does really, really good is what I don't do.

"It's not just about recapitalizing the team. I could go to any equity firm and do that. It's about creating sponsor opportunities and knowing how to think big to manage the business big. George is a visionary. He's out there with the business stuff. He thinks really big. I'm a detail guy. I'm nuts and bolts."

NASCAR Nextel Cup racing is big business these days. Evernham summed it up with a humorous comparison of Gillett and himself.

"He plays golf with billionaires. I play golf with [Cup driver] Elliott Sadler -- what's that going to do for me?" he chuckled.

Marty Smith covers motorsports for ESPN.com.