Evernham sells majority share of team to Gillett

Ray Evernham has sold majority ownership of his NASCAR team to Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett in a merger that has creates the new Gillett Evernham Motorsports, team officials announced Monday.

"It's very exciting for me to deliver to sponsors and fans the opportunity to align with a worldwide sports leader," Evernham said. "With the business acumen of the Gillett family and its sports brands, we've greatly expanded our reach."

Officials did not announce the percentage breakdown of the new agreement except to say Gillett is the majority owner. Evernham will retain the title of Chief Executive Officer and be in charge of day-to-day racing operations.

Evernham fields three Nextel Cup cars -- the No. 9 Dodge driven by Kasey Kahne, the No. 19 Dodge driven by Elliott Sadler and the No. 10 Dodge driven by Scott Riggs.

"This will allow me to focus on our racing operations and team performance," Evernham said. "The Gillett family will focus on our business operations. It certainly allows us to capitalize on our strengths and position GEM for long-term success both on and off the track."

The move continues the trend of mergers and partnerships this season in NASCAR.

Jack Roush sold part of his operation to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry at the start of the season to form Roush Fenway Racing. Dale Earnhardt Inc. bought Ginn Racing two weeks ago to form one four-car team. And Robert Yates Racing recently formed a partnership with the Champ Car team owners Paul Newman, Carl Haas and Michael Lanigan for Yates' two-car Cup team.

Along with the Canadiens NHL team, Gillett is co-owner of the prestigious Liverpool Football Club in England's top soccer league.

Gillett, a 68-year-old Wisconsin native, also owns 14 auto dealerships and several ski and golf resorts. But he said he has wanted to get involved in racing for a long time.

"Racing is in my blood," Gillett said. "It's not often you get to partner with a leader with Ray's reputation, talent and championship legacy."

Evernham, 49, was Jeff Gordon crew chief for three of Gordon's four Cup championships. But he left Gordon's team in 2001 to spearhead Dodge's re-entry into NASCAR.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.