Ford Racing - Charlotte tour with RYR, part I

The first stop on the annual Charlotte media tour was the new home of Robert Yates Racing. The 80,000-square foot facility is located in Mooresville, NC, and was the previous headquarters for Eel River Racing. The Yates organization has...

The first stop on the annual Charlotte media tour was the new home of Robert Yates Racing. The 80,000-square foot facility is located in Mooresville, NC, and was the previous headquarters for Eel River Racing. The Yates organization has undergone a restructuring for 2003 with longtime crew chief Todd Parrott becoming director of competition and Doug Yates taking over in the newly created position of general manager. Raymond Fox and Brad Parrott have been hired as crew chiefs for Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett, respectively.

Part 1 of 2 - Elliott Sadler, Dale Jarrett and Doug Yates

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus:

"I don't really know how to start this off other than saying, hey man, I'm just as happy as a kid in a candy store. I'm just very happy to be here and I'd like to welcome all of you to our new home. I think this is gonna be the biggest change in Robert Yates Racing that I've seen in a long time. The dedication and teamwork I've seen already is unbelievable. I think the commitment Robert and Richard have made with this building, with the engine shop and the chassis shop is like something I've never been a part of before. It just makes me very proud to be a part of this organization. I think the way the teams are structured this year is gonna give us great success. We have two, young, hungry crew chiefs with Raymond Fox and Brad Parrott. Both feel like they've got a lot to prove and there's a lot of success that's gonna be on their plate for a long time and I just want to be a part of it. They've got a great leader with Todd Parrott, who has been there-done that. He's won the Daytona 500 a few times and won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship to lead them along the way. I'll take that setup over anything that anybody else has in Winston Cup racing. Also with Doug Yates becoming general manager and the emphasis he has put on everything is impressive. He's really got these guys corralled behind me and it seems like we're all going in the same direction. It doesn't even seem like the same team I signed with six months ago. It seems like we're light years ahead than where we were back then, so the progress we've made since he's come in and the progress I think Raymond and I have made has been unbelievable. So the dedication that they have shown to me tells me that they're ready to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship. To have a teammate like Dale Jarrett is unbelievable. I've never had a teammate in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, so to have somebody that I look up to, not only as a teammate but also as a person and what he stands for in racing and what he stands for as a gentleman on and off the race track, to have him teach and lead me in the right direction in a lot of ways is something more than I could ever ask for. To have a teammate like him this early in my career is gonna be great. I'm looking forward to winning a few races. I have two goals coming into this season and I think we can obtain them if we do the right things. One, I want to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship. I want to win it this year. I don't want to wait. I'm not on a three or four-year plan. I want to win it this year. I think we can do that with the stuff I've seen. If we can't win it, I want to do everything I can as a teammate so the 88 UPS car can win it. So those are some goals I've set for myself and for this team and I think we can get it done. I think we showed it when we went to Daytona with how fast we tested and with how things have been going this winter, we're really jelling together. The equipment we have in this shop and the engine stuff I've seen at the other shop makes me believe we can get it done. I'm just glad to be here and glad to be a part of this organization. My mom and dad always taught me that there's one thing that will make you feel better than anything else in the world and that's to give back. I really want to give back to Robert and Richard and Doug and to everybody that's made my dreams come true. I want to give those guys back some wins and a championship. It's pretty cool to have one of your best friends to share a common goal with and that's to win a championship with Robert Yates Racing, so I'm looking forward to trying to do that here in the future."

DOUG PUT YOU IN THE SAME BREATH AS DAVEY ALLISON. DOES THAT MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE AT ALL? "As a kid growing up, I was a Davey Allison fan too. But I think Doug might be hitting on my enthusiasm and determination that I have. He's probably not talking about my driving skills yet because we haven't really been in racing conditions together, but, hopefully, he's hitting on my attitude and my personality because that's what I enjoyed most about Davey Allison. He has not told me that before. That's the first time I heard that out of his mouth, but that just makes me feel more like I'm part of the family. The one word I've heard more the last month-and-a-half or two months than I've heard my whole racing career and that's family. I've heard it a bunch out of Robert's and Doug's mouth and out of the M&M's folks and that just makes me that much better prepared and more proud to be here than anything before. But anytime you're compared to a legend it's gonna make you feel good, one, but, two, yeah it's gonna put some pressure on you. But, hey, I live on pressure. I feel like I put more on myself than anybody else does anyway, so maybe that's what makes me get up every morning and try to do the best that I can and be the best person I can and try to represent this team and that great sponsor the best way I can. I just have to take it. Hopefully I can live up to the other end of the bargain of maybe being like Davey and we'll just go from there." ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE BOLOGNA BURGERS FOR THIS TEAM? "I'm not gonna force bologna burgers on anybody. If those guys want 'em, I'll cook 'em, but I'll probably have to give them some aspirin or something when they go to bed after eating some of that. But right now our diet is M&M's and chocolate, so we're gonna go with that for a while."

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus:

"To say I'm a little bit excited would be a total understatement. We've done this for a number of years and I think each year we have a little something to announce and we talk about what we expect in the future. To come here today and know that we have a two-year extension with UPS is exciting. This will be our third year in 2003 with UPS and to say things have gone well would be an understatement, too. It's been fantastic. From a driver and team standpoint, obviously, we want to perform a little bit better on the race track. We've visited Victory Lane, but we haven't gotten another championship and we want UPS to have one because of what they give to not only this race team but our sport. I think that's what really makes us proud is to have a sponsor like UPS, that obviously gives us what we need to go out and get the job done on the race track, but more than anything, they've helped this sport tremendously in a lot of ways. Whether you like or don't like the commercials and the things that UPS has done in the two years so far, it has made a huge impact. It's made my life chaotic at times. I can't go anywhere, as I've explained to you many times, with the two year extension I still didn't get anything about getting a dollar for everytime I'm asked about driving the truck, but I'm extremely happy that they are coming back. Everything is probably better than anything else I've experienced with any race team. As we started the 1999 season I was very excited talking about how well prepared we were at that time and how ready we were to go into that season. We saw what happened after that. To say we're that prepared race car-wise, I don't think we can quite say that right now. That's not the fault of the guys or the fault of moving, it's just because of the rules being changed. We didn't have a car in the shop anywhere. You can see a lot of them sitting around that don't have bodies on them and that's what we have to go through. We've had to cut every body off every car, but we have a lot of people here that are dedicated and are working extremely hard to make all of that happen and give Elliott and I cars that we can go out week-in and week-out and have a chance to win. It's nice to have someone like Elliott on board as a teammate. You always wonder about getting teammates involved and how you'll work with them, but Elliott and I have been friends for a number of years. I have a huge amount of respect for the talent that he has and for those people out there who haven't seen or maybe paid attention yet, this young man can really drive a race car. The things he's gonna bring to this organization are endless. He brings a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of talent and a lot of good ideas to this and I think we're gonna have a great working relationship. To see these other two young guys, Raymond Fox and Brad Parrott, get opportunities that they've worked extremely hard for is nice to see. This is a sport and a business where people get rewarded for their efforts and the things that they've done over the years. Again, I'm excited about everything that's going on here. I think we've got Todd in a postion where we can utilize his talents. The things that Todd Parrott brings to this organization, more in the position that he's in than probably ever before. He was doing a lot of these things, but he was doing who knows how many jobs as the crew chief of the 88 car, plus all the things he's trying to do now as well. So having him in that position is very important to us as an organization as these two teams try to make sure that we put a competitive car out week in and week out. This is gonna be an exciting year for us. I brought something down today, it's in my car. This story was in the newspaper the other day and I'm gonna give it to our guys because I think they might take a little bit of offense to it. The story basically said that Ford's hopes kind of rested on Roush Racing and I have to disagree with that. They certainly have good teams over there with good drivers and this is nothing against them, but you're gonna see two cars right here that are gonna make a huge difference for Ford Motor Company and their quest for another manufacturer's title, I can guarantee you that. Doug Yates has come into this organization. Obviously, he's been involved on the engine side of it for quite a few years now. We've known and have known for years that we've always had the best engine program out there and now he's showing his leadership capabilities right here. There have been a lot of changes and shakeups around here. If that didn't show everybody that you better be doing your job or you might be looking for another one, then they're not paying attention. But I think everybody realizes that, including myself. I know that I've got to do my job and I've worked hard to make sure that's gonna happen. Elliott and I are gonna work close together in getting these two cars to where they perform each and every week. Elliott and I are about the size, so we've incorporated the same seat in these race cars. Anywhere we're testing, it doesn't matter which color it might be, we can fit in each other's car because we're running the exact same seat in the exact same place. So we've taken this to a level that we feel like is gonna make us two drivers and two teams with two sponsors that are gonna have to be contended with every week."

WHAT ABOUT HAVING BRAD PARROTT BACK? "If you look back, we were always a better race team when Brad Parrott was a part of it. There were two times that he wasn't and we weren't as organized and functioning as good during those times, so it was an obvious choice, but we've always been a better team as we will be now."

DOUG YATES, General Manager - Robert Yates Racing:

"There are a lot of comparisons between Dale and Elliott. If he can follow in his footsteps, Elliott is gonna be among the greatest. My Uncle Richard and I were talking about Elliott last week and we referenced Davey Allison. We see a lot of the same qualities in Elliott that we saw in Davey and we all know how close he was to our heart, so we're trying to get back to those winning ways with both of these teams and I think we've got the ingredients right here."

HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO GET BRAD BACK IN YOUR SHOP? "I would watch Brad win races on Saturday and even though all of the Busch guys would go home, Brad would be there on Sunday taking notes, watching the corners and studying the races. That really impressed me quite a bit. I think that's ultimately what led to the idea of bringing Brad back. He wants this. This is what he does. I think he was a key part to the Roush success last year, for sure. You always want to pollinate your team with winning programs. There aren't enough hours in a day to come up with everything on your own, there aren't enough dollars to do that, so, sometimes, you go out over the winter and pollinate your program with people off successful programs and that for sure factored in to bringing Brad back."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS NEW TEAM STRUCTURE? "I think with the structure of myself as general manager, working to make both teams work together, and Todd Parrott as director of competition - and the two guys that we have as crew chiefs - the chemistry is right there. Just like the driver-crew chief chemistry, this is the same thing. It takes good chemistry to make it work."

DO YOU SEE YOUR STAFF CHANGING? "Yes, we've added two engineers this winter, one Ph.D. in aerodynamics and we're continually striving to bring more on board and make this program go further. That's the direction that the sport is heading."

YOU'RE PRETTY INTENSE WHILE ROBERT IS LAID BACK. WHAT CAN WE SEE AT THE TRACK NOW? "Ten years ago I was real intense. Five years ago I was a little less intense. I'm trying to find my balance of what works. I think you have to have some of it, but maybe I can step that back up for our organization a little bit. Robert has all of the experience, but it's time for him to relax a little bit."

WHAT LED YOU TO PUT SO MUCH FAITH IN ELLIOTT? "It's just what we saw in Elliott. He has the dedication and commitment to do this. He shined at some places before that people may or may not have noticed, but I think he's one of the up and coming young guns that we can take and mold to our organization, especially with Dale Jarrett bringing him along. I think that's what's gonna make this work."

HE'S HAD SOME UPS AND DOWNS SINCE COMING TO CUP. "I think the biggest thing for us was his relationship with Dale. Dale was instrumental in this whole decision process. Dale said, 'This guy can get it done if you give him the right time and the right equipment,' so putting those two together and bringing these teams together is a good formula for us."

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT HOW MUCH PRESSURE HE PUTS ON HIMSELF? "I think that's a big part of my job is to try to help him feel comfortable with the situation. I sat down and talked to him at Daytona and said, 'Elliott, we're not expecting you to win every race. We expect you to run in the top 10 every week and if we don't run in the top 10, we need to sit down and think about things and figure out how to get them better.' So I think it's up to us to bring him along the right way."

HE TALKED ABOUT A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR. ARE THOSE EXPECTATIONS TO HIGH? "Of course everybody's goal is to win the championship, but we have to be realistic. We've got to build this thing just like we did with the 88 team, which was a three or four-year building process. You have to run in the top 10 before you can run in the top five and so on, so I think we just take it one week at a time and go from there."

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE IN THIS NEW ROLE? "My role here is just that - to bring these two teams together and give them the things that they need. I want to put the programs in place and be there as a support and watch it grow. I think we've got a lot of those things set in motion, but it is a challenge to me to understand what a general manager does. Obviously, we haven't had one and I don't know many in racing, so I've studied a lot of other racing series. I've studied Formula One and how they approach their business and I'm trying to bring some of those things into our organization within the budget we can work with."

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS STRUCTURE? "When it was all set in motion was when Fatback (Michael McSwain) decided to leave and take another job. We were interviewing people to take this crew chief role, but we said, 'You know what, we have the ingredients right here. Somebody just has to take charge of the situation and put it all in place.' I was running the dyno one day and I said, 'You know what, we've interviewed some crew chiefs and things weren't looking too well, so I'm gonna take this and, together, we're gonna fix it and get it right.' That's the way we've always done it with Robert, myself and Todd. We wanted to make it happen like we've always done and we decided to put this structure in place."

Part II

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing