Charlotte: Robert, Doug Yates media visit

Robert and Doug Yates, owners of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion and No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit, made some organizational changes this week. Both men spoke about their immediate plans for Robert Yates Racing...

Robert and Doug Yates, owners of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion and No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit, made some organizational changes this week. Both men spoke about their immediate plans for Robert Yates Racing during an infield media center press conference before qualifying for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

DOUG YATES

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE OF EDDIE D'HONDT? "This is a performance business and the performance is not where we want it. We made some changes within the team to address that and some of the things we felt together is that we need to be more involved and in that we made the decision to make a change."

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ROBERT YATES

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER CHANGES YOU'VE MADE? "Let's start with Eddie. Eddie is a great guy and a great general manager. Business-wise it was all perfect, but we have to work on getting some inner effort and time on performance -- re-focus that and some of the things I think we were getting involved in too many different series of racing, so we've changed that up. We've pulled back from the race track with some energy to focus on their needs before they get to the race track. I think a lot of times we've been trying to correct it at the track, so a lot of re-focusing and trying to go find the science that we need. Some of it was really the decision of mine is to try and get the two Cup teams right and have maybe one Busch team and get rid of the other stuff. So it was about focusing on that. Our great plans were to do all this stuff, but it wasn't working, so we took all the energy and took it and relocated it. It's all an effort to perform better."

ARE YOU GOING TO RUN THE ARCA CAR AND WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE TWO DEVELOPMENT DRIVERS? "We are not going to run ARCA. We are going to focus on our two Cup deals and the 90 car (Busch). That will be shared between Elliott and both of our drivers. I'm working very hard to get full-time Busch work for both of the development drivers because they need to be running every week. All of the energy in our shop is going towards those three jobs right now."

YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO RETURN TO WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND THE ORGANIZATION. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT COMMENT? "I have a twin brother. I don't think I made that quote, but somebody did. That sounds good. I don't know if my arms are as long as they used to be. Obviously I guess what I'm really evaluating is are my arms the right arms to be wrapped around the business? We're really evaluating and trying to change our model with the way we do our business. I think Doug has learned some of the things. The template is not filled out. We're adjusting that and we've made room for that change and hopefully we have that coming to be in place, so we had to make some vacancies so we could return and fill those with people we think are professionals in that business. Performance is the thing that I got into this sport. I made a living doing it, but I certainly love the performance side of it and don't really care about the managers. Everybody's got 10 strikes against them when you try to be my general manager."

DJ SAID YOU DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH ENGINEERS. IS THIS A MANAGEMENT PROBLEM? DO YOU NEED TO GO TO EVERNHAM AND STEAL SOME OF HIS 24 STASH? "That sounds like a good idea (joking). Certainly the size that we're looking for is not going to come to us so we're searching and trying to get there with it. We're using a lot more energy and focus on finding that setup for the Cup car and for our Busch car. Obviously, we've got plenty of room to gain there and we're putting a lot of people on the same job, so we've had a really different situation this week, but, again, we have to improve the performance."

*** DOUG YATES

"I do come from an engineering background and in the engine shop we're basically pretty much engineering driven. That's a term people throw around. In the race shop, we had a lot of success doing it the old school way and I think those days are gone. We all know that, but we haven't been able to transition from the old to the new and that's been part of our problem."

SINCE THE ENGINE DEAL STARTED THE ROUSH TEAMS HAVE PERFORMED WELL BUT YOU GUYS HAVE STRUGGLED. "The Roush-Yates engine program has been great for both of us. That's a misunderstanding that people have. We both have benefited by doing our engine program together -- a lot of resources and a lot of energy. It's afforded me a great opportunity to understand how to run a larger business and engineer things better. That's been very good for both of us, we just have not capitalized on it the same way Jack's cars have. Sure, we've got to figure that part out ourselves. That was not written in stone when we did this deal that he's going to help us with our cars. We're big boys. We've got to go figure that out ourselves. The known in the equation on most days is that the engine is fine. We've got to go work on our cars."

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ROBERT YATES

HOW HARD IS IT TO WALK AWAY FROM THINGS THAT WORKED FOR YOU IN THE PAST? "The hard part is taking days like we've had at the race track -- the performance of it. In our equation we've had one known and that's our engines. We've had different chassis than anybody else. We actually received our first Ford chassis -- Roush chassis -- and we're wide open with trying to plug in a simpler equation."

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DOUG YATES

"We're sitting here today 12th and 15th in points and you would think we're the worst cars in the garage by the way some of this press is going on, but we're just good enough not to change things but we need to change a lot of things. We've won a race pretty much every year we've been in business, but we've really got to re-think this thing and restructure and get the engineering support behind it that it takes. It's not like you throw a spring or a shock on this thing and fix it these days. It's a lot more detailed than that and that's what we've got to invest in in our company."

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ROBERT YATES

AT DOVER YOU TALKED ABOUT SOME CHANGES. HAS THIS DECISION BEEN THAT LONG IN THE MAKING AND ARE THERE MORE CHANGES IN STORE? "I think we're only finished, you know sometimes if teams are running pretty good or have some parts of their business right they're making changes. I think Jack has actually made a lot of changes in his organization on the fly right through the years, so I think we'll have to do the same thing. You really can't sit on things for too many years on end. We have to move a lot faster and get it into the engineers maybe faster."

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DOUG YATES

"We left Dover that day and went on to have a great last part of the season. I think that's when we thought the last 10 races were pretty good. We sat on a couple of poles and were pretty competitive. We won a race and maybe because of that we didn't follow through with everything we talked about that day, but the time is now."

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ROBERT YATES

WHAT MADE YOU MAKE THIS CHANGE NOW? "When I don't want to go to the race track, which is a rare occasion, it's time to change something because I really haven't looked forward to going to the race track recently. I'm looking for fun and hopefully in my future I'm planning to have fun and I just hope it's at the race track."

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DOUG YATES

WHAT IS THE STATUS WITH TOMMY AND THE 38? "I don't know where that came from. We've got to do a better job as an organization of supporting our crew chiefs and giving them better resources. Sure, whenever you make a crew chief change the chemistry between the driver and the crew chief has to work out and I think it's there. We brought Raymond back because Raymond is a big part of our organization. Raymond did a great job as a Busch crew chief, but it's a tough one. We need more resources everywhere, so where do we draw from. Jerry Pitts, who was helping Raymond with the CitiFinancial Busch car is a great guy, so Raymond is trying to help both of us and add a little strength to our M&M's car and our Citi car."

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ROBERT YATES

WITH ELLIOTT IN THE BUSCH CAR MORE DOES THAT LESSEN THE CHANCES OF EITHER STEPHEN OR MATT ENDING UP IN THE 88 NEXT YEAR? "No, that would probably be too much to ask. I tell you what we really did is it was as simple as walking through our shop and looking at Victory Lane pictures. When you see the energy that went into the last win that we had or even a lot of wins that we've had, we've always had energy. We sort of let Tommy come in and fix it, and he's needed to be surrounded the same. We do not have a Victory Lane picture in the last 55 wins where there's not a lot of energy that goes into a win. Doug walked through and said that was really a problem. So we've re-focused our energy and we probably need to pollinate it with some more energy. Tommy wasn't a fix all because he came in and after a few races we certainly hoped. Daytona looked very promising, but Tommy can't do it by himself and we have never had any one body single-handedly win a race for us and that's really where it was. He was sitting there the other night by himself, so we're trying to magnetize him so that he'll attract energy and focus and that's what we're doing with all of our product. We're taking it back to the product line instead of the race track."

WHAT IS ELLIOTT'S STATUS? HE SAYS HE HAS AN OUT IF HE WANTS TO. "We have a contract but I always work on attraction than contraction. As much as I talk about myself not wanting to be there, I wouldn't expect anybody to want to be there. Right now, we think if we continue what we're doing and putting the energy toward it, we'll figure it out and we'll all be attracted to it and that issue won't be talked about. The grandstands will bring that up whether you do or not, so we're trying to make this fun and we want everybody involved and be competitive. We know that he certainly can as a driver. There are no issues with that and we just want to go."

WHERE DO THINGS STAND WITH UPS AND A REPLACEMENT FOR THE 88? "We didn't have a long time to think about the driver part of it and certainly we've had a few weeks to start looking for that. I think the same thing. We've got to be attractive for anybody to come and want to do that, so we're working hard on that. We think that there are some people who have called and their biggest question is probably ours, 'How well are we going to run?' And that's what we're working very hard on -- to attract a driver to carry on that future."

WHAT ABOUT UPS? "I think they're in the same situation."

DO YOU WORRY YOU COULD FALL INTO BEING JUST A MID-PACK TEAM? "If you look at Gibbs one year ago here, he went from wrecking a bunch of cars to where he couldn't spin the thing out. A year ago we almost won these two races here and now we're trying to get back there. I tell you what, a few races -- look at the Childress deal. Where did they come from all of a sudden? It can happen by getting something done to the car right and everything else falls into place very quickly. This can be a quick fix if we can hit the science to it soon. We're moving it around and searching for it."

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ROBERT YATES

WERE YOU TRANSFERRING MORE CONTROL TO DOUG AND EDDIE AND ARE YOU GOING BACK TO MORE OF THAT? "For 15 years I pretty much -- everybody knows I like to drive the car and I really didn't like sitting in the back seat. I think the trunk has been closed on me for a while and I'm not sure which way we were going. At least if they hit the wall my eyes are going to be staring at it and I'm going to jump on the steering wheel, so that's sort of the way I feel. There will probably be a time when I'm too old and with these young guys might not have enough heart to do what I need to do, so I'm not sure I'm the right leader but we're looking for the right person that can help organize and get the right focus on stuff. There are some vacancies in our deal. I'm not sure I'm the guy to do that."

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT FINDING A DRIVER WORTHY OF GETTING IN THE 88? "I really believe that if we can in quick order get a wow situation with the car, I think you all will say wow to the driver that may be driving it. Right now we've got our hopes very high."

WHAT AREAS HAVE YOU IDENTIFIED THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED? "We worked on the aero for one year. We have really worked on the aero and we think we're within 95 percent of the aero. Where we have not worked is in chassis, so as of last week we are pulling the chassis that we've had out of the mix and adding in a known, which is actually right now a Roush chassis and it will be the Ford chassis of the future."

IS IT A CASE AFTER LAST YEAR THAT CONTRACTS DON'T MATTER AND PEOPLE SHOULDN'T GET HUNG UP ON IT BECAUSE THERE ARE WAYS TO GET OUT OF THEM? "I went to Junior Johnson University. He always told me that if the car is running good, you'll have people jump through everything to get in your car. I still believe that. God created money so he can get contracts negotiated, so if you have money I think you can get a lot of things done. Really, it's where they want to be. You have to have a very attractive car to drive. I wish we could bring Matt and Stephen along. I'd like to take a chance that they could be there, but I don't think we can put everything on that limb right now. I think it would be unfair to them. I think they need a full year in Busch and then some Cup races to actually be fair to them."

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HELP A DRIVER GET OUT OF THEIR CONTRACT OR WOULD IT BE THE DRIVER'S RESPONSIBILITY? "Bill France always had a saying that you may not have enough, but there's probably somebody that has it so I'm looking for that guy."

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DOUG YATES

IS THERE A CHANCE OF TOMMY TAKING A LARGER ROLE AT RYR? "I think right now Tommy's focus has to be on our 38 M&M's car. That was job one for Tommy when he came to our organization. I think we get that fixed and then see what the future brings."

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ROBERT YATES

DO YOU FEEL THIS POINT SYSTEM IS HELPING YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT THAT FAR OUT OF THE CHASE IF YOU GET THINGS TURNED AROUND. "If you can get your car to where it can get top fives every week, we could drive right up into the top 10. If you're betting on 12th place to get you there, I think that would be too stressful so we're going to throw stuff at it until we can try to leapfrog and get top fives out of it. If we do that, then all that other stuff goes out the window."

IS THIS SPORT BECOMING TOUGHER TO COMPETE IN? "I used to be mad not to finish in the top three with Junior, the Wood Brothers and the Pettys. It was a bad day when anybody else outran you, but, yes, it's tough. But I think you look at it differently because it's all relative to how tough it is. Top 10 is about as bad as the top three used to be, but at the same time we all want to win. We want everybody on the scanners worried about what we're doing and we'll keep doing it until we jump through that or leapfrog them somehow or another. Obviously, that's why we have to keep pollinating and moving around and adjusting. I'll say that we won't stop that until we hit it."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Junior Johnson , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing