Daytona Preseason Thunder - Ford interview Yates Racing

Yates Racing will make its debut next month when the 50th running of the Daytona 500 takes place on Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway. As testing continues for next month's race, car owners Doug Yates and Max Jones, along with Travis...

Yates Racing will make its debut next month when the 50th running of the Daytona 500 takes place on Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway. As testing continues for next month's race, car owners Doug Yates and Max Jones, along with Travis Kvapil -- driver of the No. 28 Ford Fusion -- spoke about where the team is positioned as far as personnel and sponsorship.

WHERE ARE YOU IN TERMS OF THE SPONSORSHIP SEARCH?

MAX JONES, Co-Owner, No. 28 and 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusions

"We're only six weeks old and we're a new team. We don't have any sponsors at the moment, but we're talking to a lot of people. There are a lot of things to consider right now, but we're not the first team to come to Daytona without sponsorship money. With the organization that Doug and I have put together, and the drivers that we have, I believe that we're really a strong candidate. It's not like we've got a rag-tag group of guys that we drug down here to Daytona. This is a solid organization with great cars. You can look at the speeds. We're not embarrassing ourselves, so I think it's a great opportunity for somebody."

A YEAR AGO THERE WERE TWO RYR CARS ON THE FRONT ROW FOR THE DAYTONA 500.

DOUG YATES, Co-Owner, No. 28 and 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusions

"My father and myself have always enjoyed coming to Daytona. It's been a passion for us to come down here and run well and try to compete for the pole and some wins. We've been fortunate to do that in the past and a lot of the things that we brought to us in forming this new team -- the great part about it is we're bringing a lot of good things that Robert Yates Racing has had in the past and combining them with our strategic alliance with Roush Fenway, it really makes for exciting potential for this year. Really, at the end of the day, we need to go out and perform well and that's what people are looking for, they're looking to be part of something they can be proud of and get their employees energized about. I think this is a great platform for doing that."

IS IT MORE DAUNTING TO START THIS PROGRAM NEEDED TO SPONSOR TWO CARS AND NOT JUST ONE? WHY NOT START WITH JUST ONE CAR?

MAX JONES: "Yeah, but I think that can also be an opportunity for somebody, too. We're committed to doing this. We realized when we decided to go do this that we were gonna need two sponsors, and I think if you come down here and perform well, there are gonna be a lot of opportunities. We've talked to a lot of people, but I think you want to make sure you're putting the right package together. We're in this thing for the long term and we're in it to build relationships and build partnerships, so we just don't want to take somebody and hang them on the car for the Daytona race. That might end up having to happen if we can't put the right package together with somebody, but whenever you're talking to sponsors and you're putting a team together, you've got to look at all your options and look at what you think best suits what your objectives are and what you're planning on doing. Our plan is to do this for a long time and build relationships, so we're really talking to as many people as we can."

WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS NOW FROM A COMPETITION STANDPOINT?

DOUG YATES: "I think it's really good. This year we made a change. Todd Parrott was with David Gilliland last year and we also had Cully Barraclough running our Busch team for us, which did a great job. They won a race at Kentucky with Stephen Leicht, which was the first Busch win for Robert Yates Racing, but we decided to marry David Gilliland and Cully Barraclough together because they've had a past together. Cully was actually there when David won his Busch race at Kentucky. They go way back and they believe in each other, and then we have a championship-winning crew chief with Todd Parrott and a truck champion and rising star in Travis Kvapil. We feel like that's a good combination as well, so we have a lot of potential. I like the way I see the teams working together and we're real fast down here testing. If we were down here with only one car it would be a little scary. The one thing we have going for us is we have two cars that are inside the top 35 in points and what people need to understand is that guarantees us a starting spot in the first five races. That's a little bit of a comfort zone to get some momentum going so if you had a bad qualifying lap or had something happen, it gives you a fall back. But it's also a good way to start the season and we feel pretty good about the way it's shaping up."

WHAT ABOUT SEEING 28 ON THE SIDE OF YOUR CAR AGAIN?

DOUG YATES: "I've been asked that question a lot this week and through the years since we had to put the 28 on the shelf, just about every time I would go on a call-in show the first question they ask is, 'When are you bringing the 28 back?' That's gone on for four or five years now and to be able to bring it back brings back a lot of memories and brings back a lot of pride. I have some real fond memories. As a matter of fact, winning the Daytona 500 in 1992 with Davey Allison was probably one of the brightest memories in my past, and hopefully we can bring it back and do some good things in the future with it. It would be a real shame if we brought it back and didn't make a real strong statement with it."

MAX JONES: "From the sponsorship side, that's something somebody could really hang their name on that 28 and continue on the heritage and legacy that number has carried. I would think that would be exciting for a lot of people that have followed that and watched where that number and that car and the family have gone with that. Being solid in the point standings to start the season, we're not like last year when there were a lot of start-up teams that didn't have points. We're coming in here in a little different situation than some of those that were starting from scratch last season."

WE'VE SEEN PEOPLE WHO WERE SUCCESSFUL IN OTHER BUSINESSES TRY TO COME INTO THIS SPORT AND MAKE IT WORK. SOME HAVE AND SOME HAVEN'T. YOU GUYS HAVE KNOWN NOTHING BUT RACING SO IS THAT AN ADVANTAGE AS FAR AS MAKING THIS WORK?

MAX JONES: "I've never been a carpet salesman or sold washing machines. This is all I've ever done and it's all Doug has ever done. It wasn't a hasty decision. We thought and thought about this for a long time. This is what we do and we knew what was in front of us, but we feel really good about it and we feel strong about where we're at right now. I don't think it's one of those things where we thought this was a glamorous business to jump into and we thought we could get rich and come in here and do this thing. This is something we've always done."

DOUG YATES: "One of the weaknesses at Robert Yates Racing was somebody who could run the business side and run the race teams. My father and I were always under the hood. That's where we're most comfortable at, and I think that's what makes this thing with Max and I so special because the things I'm short on, he fills that really well. He's been a successful race car driver. He's been successful running race teams and he understands how to do that. That allows me to continue working on the engines and touching and feeling the cars a little bit. The things I think we were weak in and short on in the past, I think we've shored that up by partnering with Max. That's pretty exciting for me as we learn each other and complement each other to make this team successful in the future."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CREW GUYS YOU HAVE WORKING ON THE CARS?

MAX JONES: "For me it's been pretty busy in the first month just putting the business together, so I haven't had a lot of time to spend in the shop and watch the guys work and work together, but with the 28 team being down here and watching that team work together, I think they're doing a great job. I see no problems. I'm sure the 38 is gonna be the same way and we'll get to see that for the first time next week. There's a core group of guys that came from Robert Yates and they've worked together and they're gelling. We were able to put some cars together in a short period of time and be ready to come down here, in addition to putting a shop together and other things you have to do at a new company. There hasn't been any big hiccups right now, so maybe things are going too great right now."

DOES IT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT COMING HERE AS A CAR OWNER? ANY BUTTERFLIES?

DOUG YATES: "Whenever I walk through the gates at Daytona it kind of feels pretty special to me, but to be down here as an owner and bringing the 28 number back is special. This is the first time being down here without my dad being here, so there are a lot of things going on and it's a very different feel. I miss my father being here. I think he may come next week and help us out some, but it does feel different. There's a sense of pride about it. We're putting our hard work, sweat and financial futures on the line here, but it's very rewarding as well. We want to make it work and make people believe in what we're doing and who we are."

MAX JONES: "There are parts of me that feel a little different. I've always put a lot of pressure on myself no matter what team I was running, whether it was my own or somebody else's. I think this is a little different because this is an elite sport. When you stop and think about it, and when you ask the question, yeah, I guess I'm an owner with an elite time in one of the elite forms in motorsports. It's a privilege to me an owner here. It's not something you just walk in and do, so I think there is a little added pressure for me. I don't know about butterflies. Somebody told me the other day that I should smile. I'll smile when we are on the pole or win. It's a lot of work, but I'm enjoying it. Whenever I'm at the race track I'm having a good time."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE PAIRED WITH TODD PARROTT?

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 28 Yates Racing Ford Fusion

"I'm excited about it. Obviously, he's won a couple of Daytona 500s in the past and won a bunch of races in the past, so having somebody with the experience and the youth at the same time, it's just given me a lot of confidence. He's from a racing family and is very driven and very motivated to be successful, so I like to be paired with somebody that has that drive and that motivation."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING IN THE 28?

TRAVIS KVAPIL: "I think there are a few numbers out there that are pretty meaningful and I feel honored that they're giving me the opportunity to bring it back out. Hopefully we can just have the success that the 28 has had in the past and be a contender and be up front with it."

HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR?

TRAVIS KVAPIL: "So far, so good. It's a lot to learn for me with the new car and being out of Cup for a few years, but it's exciting to be back. Just getting out in the pack, you're learning stuff every lap. We've had decent speed, so I'm excited to go back home, regroup and check everything out as far as our data goes so we can come back strong in February."

HOW HAVE THINGS BEEN WITH THE CREW AND JUST INTERACTING WITH THEM?

TRAVIS KVAPIL: "It's going really well. It's a new team for me with all the new people I'm working with, so we're still trying to build that communication. But once everyone figures out their role and gets into a rhythm of working with each other, I think it will help us come out of the blocks strong next month."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers David Gilliland , Robert Yates , Stephen Leicht , Max Jones , Travis Kvapil , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing