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You Can't Keep Yates Down

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lack of sponsorship won't get Yates Racing down
Kvapil, Gilliland in top 21 of points minus primary sponsor
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

In the meritocracy that is NASCAR team haulers are parked 
in order of their points position, with the back-markers 
appropriately located in the rear. Working your way up 
the line at Darlington Raceway, you pass the bright 
corporate logos of large national beer, cereal, power 
tool and shipping companies -- among many others -- before 
reaching two Yates Racing trucks adorned by only the 
organization's insignia under the image of stylized, 
fluttering checkered flag. 

Unable to find full-time sponsorship after it reorganized 
under a new name last year, Yates Racing has instead made
due with patchwork deals that have helped keep its two 
Fords afloat. But despite that rather notable handicap, 
drivers Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland have managed to 
stay safely inside the top 35 in owner points all season, 
something a few of their fully-sponsored rivals have been 
unable to do. And Kvapil has turned into a consistent 
top-20 performer, notching three top-10s despite having 
six different sponsor names on the hood of his No. 28 car 
already this year. 

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In the most recent points event two weeks ago at Darlington,
the former Truck Series champion ran with the leaders for 
most of the race and posted an impressive finish of eighth. 
This bearing the sponsorship of a Ford dealership in 
Fayetteville, N.C., that was as much a throwback tribute 
to Fred Lorenzen as anything else. It was another step 
forward for team owner Doug Yates, who is rebuilding his 
organization with money out of his own pocket, along with 
help from partners Roush Fenway Racing and Ford. 

"Everybody asks before the season starts, what are your 
expectations? We're overachieving a little bit from what 
I thought setting out," Yates said. "I was so beat down 
last year, too, so you have to look at it pretty negatively.
But yeah, I'm really impressed with what we're doing, but 
maybe not surprised. Todd Parrott is a championship-winning 
crew chief, and Travis has won races in the Truck Series 
and never really got a solid shot here. I just feel momentum
is building on this team." 

Yates' team has operated under the radar for much of this 
year, his cars running at times with white, sponsorless 
hoods bearing only the name of the organization. But it's 
a rather impressive comeback from the disarray of last 
season, when -- in the midst of the retirement of patriarch 
Robert Yates, the departure of sponsor Masterfoods, and 
the dissolution of a short-lived deal with the Newman/Haas 
open-wheel team -- the two Yates cars managed only a single 
top-five finish between them. Doug Yates could have walked 
away and focused on running his engine operation, but 
instead he paired with former Roush executive Max Jones 
to revive the family business. 

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And that he did, shepherding a team that to this point has 
run better even without sponsorship than the organization 
did last year with it. Realizing his team's limitations, 
Yates stopped trying to build his own cars and instead 
bought them from Roush, with whom he also co-owns Roush-
Yates Racing Engines. Ford chipped in with wind tunnel and 
seven-post time. Yes, they're strapped for resources -- 
they don't have the money to test as much as some other 
teams, and their pit crews are often stretched to the 
limit. But for right now, at least, they're making it work.

"It's pretty rewarding, really," said Kvapil, who moved 
up to 18th in points after his Darlington finish. "We're 
parked by points, and it's nice to walk in the garage and 
see some of the cars behind us and the success they've 
had in the past. It's still a long season. We're not even 
a third of the way into it. We just need to continue what 
we started with good, solid finishes each week, completing 
all the laps, and gaining momentum. We haven't been real 
flashy, finished in the top five or anything like that. 
We've been nice and consistent, performing well, and 
logging all the miles. Along with that, we've been able 
to gain a lot of points." 

Kvapil, whose car at Darlington was a No. 99 of Roush 
driver Carl Edwards last year, doesn't seem surprised. 
"The people involved in this from last fall on, we knew 
what we were going to be up against, and we knew we had 
the personnel and equipment to go out there and get the 
job done," he said. "To an outsider looking in, it might 
have looked bleak. But we knew what we had going on 
inside. This isn't the Yates Racing team of last year. 
This is kind of like a new team. We've gone though a 
lot of changes, and it's definitely showing up on the 

The Roush agreement has been key, helping Yates build its 
car inventory, and also providing needed engineering 
support for an organization that needs to watch ever 
dollar. "I guess you could say we owe some people some 
money on the engines and the cars and things like that, 
but that's OK," Yates said. "Because I think as people see 
our performance get better, hopefully as this economy takes 
a turn for the better, I think people will recognize that 
we're a good value. I think what's hurting us right now 
is, everyone seems to think you need a $20 million sponsor, 
which is not true. I think what our team offers is really 
good exposure for really good value." 

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This late in the season, it's difficult to find a big-
dollar primary sponsor, given that advertising dollars 
are typically committed earlier in the year. The Yates 
team is making due right now in piecemeal fashion, 
finding companies to sponsor a few races at a time, a 
practice that pays the bills but stretches the marketing 
department. The plan is to get through this season, and 
find somebody willing to back the Yates cars for all of 

"I think it's tough to sign a multi-million dollar deal in 
the middle of the season," Kvapil said. "The sponsors that 
are out there have already committed, and they're already 
in place. A lot of that stuff happens in the offseason. I 
know moving forward we have some two- and three-race deals 
coming up, and they're always talking about, this sponsor 
might want to do four or five races down the road. We feel 
like we are going to keep piecing it together and moving 

Of course, if the CEO of a Fortune 500 company showed up 
at the Yates shop with a check tomorrow, he wouldn't turn 
it down. "We're not short-handed or anything like that," 
Kvapil said. "But if we had a little more money, maybe we 
could do a little more testing, or get one or two more 
guys in here to kind of help out. Our guys work really 
hard and there's definitely not any extras around Yates 
Racing. We're doing a great job, and we have everything 
we need. We don't have any extra, that's for sure. It 
would be nice, hopefully when we get some sponsorship and 
color on these cars full-time, then we can kind of take 
that next step and develop our race team and get it to 
the next level." 

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