Ray Evernham, , left, was smart, innovative, demanding and pragmatic. He saw what Jeff Gordon, right, needed and, while respectful to NASCAR’s past, was willing to change it. Chuck Burton AP
Ray Evernham, , left, was smart, innovative, demanding and pragmatic. He saw what Jeff Gordon, right, needed and, while respectful to NASCAR’s past, was willing to change it. Chuck Burton AP

NASCAR & Auto Racing

Short takes: Ray Evernham was cool in ’90s. Zion Williamson trolls were something else.

By Tom Sorensen

Correspondent

January 24, 2018 07:02 PM

▪  Thrilled to see Ray Evernham inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. You’d see him in Jeff Gordon’s pit back in the 1990s when the two ruled the sport, and think, “It’s not fair.” Nobody drove as well as Gordon and nobody ran a crew or team as well as Evernham.

Evernham, 60, was smart, innovative, demanding and pragmatic. He saw what Gordon needed and, while respectful to NASCAR’s past, was willing to change it. He invented and created.

Also, he’s cool. And he loves boxing.

Congratulations, Ray…

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▪  Spartanburg’s Zion Williamson announced Saturday that he would play basketball for Duke. The other finalists for his services were, in alphabetical order, Clemson, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Some fans prayed that Williamson, a powerful 6-6 and 260 pounds, would choose their school. I get that. I don’t get taking personal shots at him on social media because he didn't.

Question: How was your day?

Answer: Real good. I stayed home and made fun of Zion Williamson on Twitter.

Williamson is 17.

The loudest critic was not a troll with a fake name but Kentucky coach John Calipari. Calipari didn’t like Duke’s contention that its commitment to Williamson goes beyond basketball. At least Calipari used his real name…

▪  The Jacksonville Jaguars had a final chance. They had the ball fourth and 15, and after Blake Bortles scrambled, and rookie receiver Dede Westbrook appeared to break free. South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore then made the defensive play of the game. As New England Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium convulsed, Gilmore made a leaping, flying, one-handed deflection and knocked the ball to the ground. Gilmore played at Rock Hill South Pointe, quarterback as well as defensive back, and the Stallions went undefeated…

▪  This is supposed to be a deep draft for quarterbacks. Last season, Deshaun Watson was the third quarterback selected and went 12th overall. Those of us that watched him play at Clemson thought, “He was the third quarterback picked? The Houston Texans got a deal.” We were right. I wonder who this draft’s Watson will be…

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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