Evernham returns as ESPN analyst after year off

Ray Evernham is returning to the broadcast booth in NASCAR, rejoining ESPN as an analyst after taking a year off.

Evernham, who won three championships as Jeff Gordon's crew chief and later started his own team, was an ESPN analyst from 2008-10. He didn't work for the network last season, instead becoming a consultant to NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick.

"I chose to take a year off from ESPN out of respect for ESPN and Hendrick Motorsports," Evernham said in a statement. "I didn't want to create any perceived conflict of interest while I got my bearings at Hendrick and didn't want to cause distraction to either company."

Evernham will continue working with Hendrick while commentating for ESPN. He said his work with Hendrick's companies wasn't related to racing, and he doesn't believe it will create any issues.

"Now that I'm settled at Hendrick Performance, I don't have any involvement on the racing side of the operations and it frees me from any conflict with NASCAR teams," he said. "Mr. Hendrick and I have worked out an agreement that allows me to return to the ESPN team."

Evernham will rejoin ESPN at Daytona Speedweeks.

"I really enjoy the team camaraderie at ESPN and I'm very much at home with this group from my previous three years," he said. "Stock car racing is my passion and I'm looking forward to being back involved."