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Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series · Toni Montgomery · Thursday November 2, 2006
Ray Evernham has made it very clear that his personal relationship with Craftsman Truck Series driver Erin Crocker is exactly thatâ€”personal and completely off limits. That's fine if he wants to believe that and frankly I neither want to nor need to know the details. As a matter of fact those details are completely irrelevant. As much as he believes by keeping that information to himself, his relationship is not public domain, he is wrong. You see, what he chooses to reveal or keep private has nothing at all to do with the perception that is in the public eye. He has no control at all over what everyone will think.
I know what I think and I'm willing to bet I am not alone. I think that even if it did not get her the ride in the first place, it sure appears to me that Crocker is keeping her seat in Evernham's truck because she is sleeping with the boss. Again, I'm not saying that is or isn't the truth, but that is the perception that I have of the situation. I can throw some facts in there to strengthen the argument too.
Let's take a look at Crocker's numbers in the Craftsman Truck Series this season. Through 22 races run so far in 2006, Crocker has an average starting spot of 24.8. It turns out she qualifies better than she races because she has an average finish of 25.8. I think it is worth reminding you that there are only 36 trucks in each race. Her best result of the season was a 16th place in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway in July. An 18th place at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May and a 20th at Talladega in October are her only other top 20 finishes. That means she was pretty much a backmarker in the other 19 races she has run this season.
As for points, Crocker sits 23rd, the farthest back of any driver that has started in all 22 races. The next closest driver with a full 22 starts is Kerry Earnhardt in 20th. Crocker doesn't even have the equipment excuse to play because her team likely has access to better funding than most of the other teams in the Series. Unlike Earnhardt, who runs for an independent Truck Series team, Crocker runs for a team that is part of a top flight Nextel Cup Series team. If they can figure out how to get at least one car into the Chase every year, they should be able to figure out how to finish decently in a Craftsman Truck Series race, don't you think?
To put it bluntly, those are not encouraging numbers for a driver in a development program with a Nextel Cup Series team. Erik Darnell is 14th in points with a pole, three top 5, and 9 top 10 finishes. David Ragan is only two spots behind Crocker in points in 25th but has run five fewer races. In his 17 starts, he has posted a pole, one top 5, and seven top 10 finishes.
I don't buy the diversity initiative as a reason to keep a driver who is performing so poorly in a ride either. Crocker's numbers are actually slightly behind those posted by Deborah Renshaw and I haven't seen Renshaw around this season. I might be able to understand it if I was seeing some improvement happening but I don't see any signs of that either. Note that her best finishes of the season were sporadic and spread out in no particular order. Between those finishes is a sea of results in the mid-20s or worse.
So given all that, why would a team keep a development driver that hasn't shown much in the way of results, hasn't shown any real improvement over the season, and tears up a lot of equipment on top of all that? Whether it is right or not, I can think of only one reason in this case. So whether Ray Evernham likes it or not, if I have arrived at that conclusion, I am sure many others have as well. I've arrived at one other conclusion too. Whether it's the truth or not, I perceive that Erin Crocker has managed to set women in NASCAR back at least a decade and for that I know she has lost my respect.
It saddens me to think that because of this situation, all women that follow may be looked at in a different light. There may always be those skeptics that wonder exactly what talent earned her a ride.
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How does she compare to Lester. Would he get the same press?
I agree—-we call her “Betty Crocker” and think she is a big JOKE
I agree 100%. And… I get so angry when I see her sitting with Ray on top of the pit box during the NASCAR Cup races and taking part in the winning celebration. Nothing like smacking it in the face to his wife and kids..I’ve lost all respect for Ray Evernham and I agree, Ms. Crocker has set women back in racing..she is just awful!
WOW.....Nothing like a good cat fight. I can just feel all the love radiating from you women.
What goes on between Evernham and Crocker is nobody’s business but theirs. Doesn’t make any difference if it’s on the track or off the track, it’s their business, end of discussion. I don’t hear or read a thing about Ray or Erin caring a damn about who any of you are sleeping with.
Colin, I think you missed Toni’s point.
Lack of performance was the issue and sleeping arrangements was just a logical conclusion as to why such pitiful performance was allowed to continue, development driver or not.
I read another excellent commentary on Autolust.net on this back in August: http://www.devincomiskey.com/2006/08/nascar-evernham-risking-all-with.html
Isn’t this a tad late?
I really had high hopes for Erin Crocker. I was encouraged that instead of going the babe in leather string bikinis spread eagle on her car (ala Danica Patrick) she seemed to want to be taken seriously as DRIVER. I thought finally a woman who wants to be seen as a race car driver not someone who is going to perpetuate the image that the only way for a woman to get attention is to sell sex. The people who say the Everham/Crocker situation is none of our business is correct, however it pains me that women who have the opportunity to make a real statement, instead lapse into every stereotype of the failings of women and enforce the notation they are only good for one thing, and it’s not racing.
How would you feel at your job if a woman got a promotion that you thought you deserved because she was sleeping with the boss? This situation is no different.
I’m afraid I couldn’t agree more. I watch each race hoping to see some improvement but the story is exactly the same. She starts out the race and immediately moves to the back. She passes no one. Literally, her finishes have come from others misfortunes and DNF’s. I have yet to see her move forward in ANY race. It’s sad. Someplace or somehow she has lost some agressiveness or the desire to mix it up and race.
I think Ray could get someone cuter.
With the lack of improvement in her results, one has to wonder why she stays behind the wheel of the #98 Truck. In today’s NASCAR world, it seems that any other driver would not have been around as long.
On one hand, I say kudos to Ray Evernham for giving her time to gain some experience. It doesn’t seem that many teams are offering that type of opportunity to new drivers. On the other hand, what is the incentive for him to do that for Erin with the results she is producing? We have heard that Betty Crocker and General Mills are not renewing their sponsorship. That in itself gives the perception that their personal relationship plays a role.
While Erin Crocker’s results have not been good in the truck series, she has run well in ARCA and wasn’t as bad in a Busch car as in the truck. I just wonder how good the truck really is?
Bill Lester has four top 15 finishes and, although missing the sixth race of the season, is two spots ahead of Crocker in the standings.
Look, people. Ray is the boss and that’s the way it is. It’s not always fair how and who gets the job, but that is life. Don’t sit on your pearch and point the finger and say “Bad Ray.” Ray has a good reputation for replacing drivers that don’t perform (he replaces some drivers for publicly criticizing him even faster). Yeah Crocker’s numbers are torturous but he WILL get some PR points for the diversity issue, but I’d be very surprised if she’s driving anyone’s CTS truck next year. Ray’s not stupid! He knows where the money to run race programs comes from and when teams don’t perform, those dollars go away. I never even HEARD of Erin Crocker until all of you started making such a deal out of her after Jeremy Mayfield’s dismissal. The fact is that NONE of it is any of your business! I don’t care if you’re a Daimler/Chrysler stock holder, Ray’s going to run his teams the way he wants. Go bang pots about another topic no one cares about!
Ray Everham was the last person I would have guessed to be involved in such a soap opera. What was he thinking? Very unprofessional behavior for such a high profile team owner and businessman.
I think she literally SUCKS!!
(Comment edited out by the Frontstretch) Whether or not itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s business isnâ€™t the topic of discussion here. Itâ€™s how poorly she runs and how she hasnâ€™t helped women in the sport at all. Itâ€™s one thing to DESERVE the position you get, but another thing to have it GIVEN to you because youâ€™re bed partners with your boss. If this was in the business world (outside of NASCAR), nobody would bat an eyeâ€¦it happens all the time..doesnâ€™t make it right, but itâ€™s just magnified because itâ€™s Ray Evernham. He gives the guys good equipment in the Cup Series so Iâ€™m sure his CTS program is just as good.
How come no one is talking about B. Hamilton and Bobby Jr. His performance is not that great either. Like the man said, it’s no ones business who R.E. sleeps with or how he spends his money on racing.
Ok everyone take a deep breath, I do Believe that all the nick picking and name calling is not much more then CHILDISH! If you look at the sponsor dollars that have been given to the team along with the PR that has come with the fact that she is the only female that has driven in all the CTS races, you can see quite a few bonuses. Also, while the drive for diversity continues, you haft to look the reasons why Cheerios and Betty Crocker are on the side of a truck raced by a woman. Obviously women look to other women for inspiration and why not. Grated Erin has made a not so bright decision in having a relationship with the boss but damn, itâ€™s business and we are all here still talking about it and we all love those cup cakes. Also note that with the slipping ratings and possibly slipping fan base, (even though the dollars spent on team souvenirs keeps rising) why not try to get the women interested in some manner. I personally donâ€™t think that Erin can run with the big dogs so let her finish her season, finish her career in driving and let her finish digging her hole as she has chosen to make a bad decision instead of furthering her racing career.
Here….here, well spoken Robin. Peace, Mike
Right now, not only is Erin last of all full time truck racers, she also has four guys ahead of her in the standings who have not raced the full season. Of those four who have amassed more points than Ms. Crocker , two of them are also rookie drivers. Her on the track performance does not warrant her being promoted to Busch and Cup rides as Evernham has said he plans to do.
When Crocker first showed up in Nascar, I followed her closely and did nothing but wish her well. But when she became the cliche of a young woman using her body to get ahead when she couldn’t perform at her job, well….
Its a slap in the face to those ethical drivers who are trying to advance via hard work, determination, sacrifice and talent.
Thank you Duane!!! You said it better than I could—that is exactly the point I was trying to make!
Bill; Are trying to tell me that Jeremy Mayfield was wanting to sleep with Ray Evernham? Shame on you!!!
Who said anything about Jeremy Mayfield? Obviously you are reading more than was written. What a sick mind.
Sorry, there was a different Bill to which Colin was replying. I thought he was replying to my post.
Well said. As I am a huge Kasey Kahne fan (and I love Elliott Sadler, too!), I hate what Ray Evernham has done for the image of his company this year. Erin definately needs to go, and I think it says a lot that Betty Crocker/General Mills is pulling out their sponsorship. And, better yet, Ray will run her full time even if she remains sponsorless. Completely ridiculous. No other driver would keep their job.
Oh, and on another note, Evernham trucks have proven themselves on the track. Kasey Kahne has started only 2 truck races, but he dominated and won both of them. 2 out of 2. Erin can’t even score ONE top ten out of 20+ starts. Pathetic.
crocker is a joke, if she was any other racer she would have been gone a longtime ago. she has the best equipment and the best she can do is avg. 25 place
lets put steve park and whatch it take off
look what he did for the 59
Obviously, Erin didn’t come to EMS as Ray’s girlfriend. She came there through her merits and while there, a romantic relationship developed. I don’t think either of them intended the outcome. Erin HAS lost her edge. Perhaps that’s the effect of falling in love. I think this is an example of where falling head over heels in love inhibits the ability to think rationally, which is exactly how it seems that Ray has been behaving—irrationally. As some of you point out, it’s his team and if he wants to run it into the ground, neglect development, let the shop slide, lose sponsors, turn off his fan base, stir up the garage with gossip, subject his family to the constant spotlight of his new relationship, seriously and perhaps irrevocably damage his reputation and drain all his financial resources into a hopeless driver who has lost her edge, then THAT’S HIS BUSINESS, right? Neither meant to be in this position, but that’s where they are.
Your column on this subject is very inappropriate. If Ray wants to put his mother in a truck, that is his business. What he does with his driver after hours is his business. Everyone should lay off. If NASCAR and the sponsors have a problem with Erin, let them take care of it. Besides, everything said here is only speculation!!! Does anyone have pictures or other proof positive of their relationship? NO!! It is only the rantings of an ex-driver of EMS that has caused all this, and he is a MOUTH FROM OWENSBORO!!! Forget it, yall.
Isn’t gossip one of the seven deadly sins? Get a life people
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IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.