Loudon: Ford Racing - Robert Yates interview

Robert Yates, car owner of the No. 28 Havoline Taurus, was interviewed prior to Friday morning's practice session regarding the status of his driver situation for next season. ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --28-- Havoline Taurus "There are so many...

Robert Yates, car owner of the No. 28 Havoline Taurus, was interviewed prior to Friday morning's practice session regarding the status of his driver situation for next season.

ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --28-- Havoline Taurus

"There are so many ways to look at this. My head is wearing my body out because there are so many different scenarios here. I just hope it works out so everybody comes out on top, whether we're together or whether we're apart. This is a real small business world and I learned a long time ago that if you are really mad at somebody, you better get over it because they may be the guy working next to you next time. That's the way I want this to be. I do not want to stand in the way of Ricky having a better job. If this is his best job, we have no desire for him to do anything differently. But if there is a better job, go out and research it and come back and tell us where you want to be. We also have the same right. Can we get something better to do? Then we have a right. It's just a negotiating year. If there's a sad part to this it happened with Ricky's back being hurt and him thinking about retiring last year. Maybe if his back was good last year, he wouldn't have thought about retiring and we would have pushed a year on this deal and wouldn't be sitting here on this last year."

COULD YOU WORK TOGETHER WITH HIM NOW?

"I don't think there's anybody on this team that doesn't highly respect Ricky Rudd and his driving ability. I don't think there's anybody on our team that we couldn't go off and go to a camp together and get along and be friends with. He's a good guy. He's a fun guy to hang out with. He's a fun guy to race with and we feel very comfortable with him sitting in our race car. We have a perfect world with Ricky, however, he doesn't know if he wants to retire, he doesn't know if he wants to go somewhere else. He was gonna tell us Monday, but he hasn't exactly told us yet. I don't know. I'm just hoping everybody comes out on top. I don't also want to be accused of doing a secret thing like, 'Why did you break that up?' I'm not necessarily breaking it up. At some point you get tired of trying to hold it together."

RICKY MENTIONED MICHAEL MCSWAIN LEAVING. WHERE DOES THAT STAND?

"I watched two and four year olds have little fist fights and that's probably the way I rate that one -- something that was not about their job, something off to the side. It was pretty ridiculous, but, in their mind, it may be bigger than life. From where I look at it, it's like ridiculous. I work well beside people that we've really had some serious fights and gotten over it. When I grew up with my brother, we fought night and day. There's nothing that we can't get over. I don't think either one of them has done anything that we couldn't get behind us in a heartbeat. It's just really what does Ricky want to do, what do we want to do and what's best. I'm greedy. I've done this a long time also. I may want to retire. It's like when I sat down and talked to Ricky it's like, we worked together in '81 and we each worked on the other side of the garage area for all those years. We highly respected each other and worked together again. This sport has been good to both of us. Let's have good memories or let's choose up and have some additional things to come. But, if he can get a better deal, I'm not gonna stand in the way of it because I can't. 'I'm willing to dig in this deep and this is what I think I can take out of the deal to make it work, but, if you can get a better deal. I mean, if the Cowboys want to pay you eight million dollars, I want to go with you.'"

SOME PEOPLE SAY MCSWAIN THREW RICKY UNDER THE BUS. DID THAT HAPPEN?

"No. It's not worth mentioning, but since you asked. They had a victory party. Ricky was invited, but he wasn't there and they shouldn't have had it, I guess. Why did you have it without me kind of a thing. There was a lot of foolishness. Here I'm trying to talk about a future and what we're doing and now they're playing this two-year-old deal. They could get that behind them so quick, I would think. If they can't bury those kind of grudges, it would be hard to live in this business. Really, there's no substance there. Professionally, I think they highly respect each other. They both really came to us together. Who brought who? Ricky had a good run at Bristol. Fatback came to talk to me two hours after the race. They came together to our team and I'm torn. I support both of them. I'm not gonna side with one or the other. It's like I have two kids. I mean, I'm not gonna side with either one of them.

"They need to fight that out or whatever and have a good knock down drag out if you've got to and get that out of the way. I'm not gonna side either way. 'Don't make me do this. Ricky, don't make me side with you and Fatback, don't make me side with you. I'm neutral.' Really, I've probably said more than I should say about happened, but that's all that's too it. It's nothing. I mean, you see guys that get in arguments and fights about something very serious and there's nothing there. That should be something the can get over in a heart beat."

MCSWAIN GOING TO A THIRD TEAM AT RYR, IS THAT A POSSIBLE SCENARIO? CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT?

"That's one of them. My desire is still to have two teams. I've always said that one team is all I ever wanted, but learn how to live on two paychecks. It's sort of like my wife started working, I can't let her quit (laughing). I don't know how to go back to one. Why three? I don't see that I need three chances to try to win. I think it's unhealthy for the sport. I think it's unhealthy for NASCAR. I think sitting in the grandstand it's unhealthy, if I was a fan. So I don't like monopolies. I think the more teams you have, the more monopolizing you're trying to be and that, generally, creates unhealthiness. I'm not knocking the guys that have five teams, but the way I run it is there are not efficiencies in doing numbers. It's not about the numbers. Even though I like to make as much money as the next guy, I like to be as financially sound as the next guy. My good days are when I go to the race track and my guys are getting along. Why have to deal with three teams. Two chances to win works good. It worked good at Pocono a few weeks ago where one had a flat tire. Personally, for Robert Yates or Todd or Fatback or any of us, none of us have we been about having multiple teams. At some point I would like for Doug Yates to be Doug Yates and do his own team. I don't want to be standing in the way of him doing that. He's got a lot of opportunities with people wanting to join up with him and have a team. As much as he's a serious part of our business, just the way the whole tax situation is -- not that I'm gonna leave him a lot -- but it's a lot more fun to build your own than to have it given to you or passed on to you. Life is really about opportunity to work. I'm getting off on a tangent, but hope in the future that Doug Yates has his own team. But merely the fact that if he learns a skill, that he can earn it for himself. My dad was a preacher and he left me a gold bible. I probably haven't read it enough, but that's what I would like to have happen -- that Doug could do his own team. The timing has got to be right. Robert doesn't care about having three teams for Robert."

COULD ROBERT HAVE TWO TEAMS AND DOUG ONE NEXT YEAR?

"I think Doug still wants to do whatever is the best thing. I think we both think that two teams is enough for the two of us, but at some point I would like for Doug Yates to be Doug Yates Racing and not depend on Robert Yates because, really, our business is left over is what equipment you have. It's not like passing on a factory or something, so it's a healthy thing to have happen financially, if Doug can come along and have his own team. He certainly could handle it, I believe. Timing is everything. If the right deal comes along, I want to back away and really make sure that Doug can do that, but, right now, I'm not sure this is the right time. It might be."

IF RICKY STAYS, WOULD THE CURRENT 28 TEAM STAY TOGETHER?

"What I know about the scenario of what his opportunity is, he's got a really good opportunity -- one that, if I were just a fan that understood racing, I would say, 'That's a good opportunity.' I don't know if it's better than the one we have. It may pay better. It may be at some point better for him and he's just got to make a decision. The longer he waits to make that decision, the slimmer this deal gets."

HOW MUCH LONGER WILL THIS GO ON AND IS IT A STRESS ON THE RACING OPERATION?

"It would be hard to say it wouldn't be stressful...but what we're doing is we're enjoying racing. We have good equipment. Everybody is being very professional and I think that's what I tell all the guys, especially the ones that need to work here another 20 or 30 years. 'Don't do anything stupid. Don't try to throw this deal one way or the other because you're an indvidual. Everyone sells their services to a team, whether they're the owner or not. Just do it professionally. Let's try to win the championship.

"Let's try to win races and when you look back on it like I never used to do until I got old.' Now I love looking back and remembering the good times. You don't want to have any bad times mess up that deal, so that's where our head is. I think we're operating very professionally. Everybody is doing their jobs. We want to win each and every week. Time may run out on us if this deal doesn't continue and we'll be able to close the books on that and still look back and say, 'We enjoyed working together."

CAN THE 28 WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? "If we have a lot of good luck and everybody has a lot of bad luck, I guess."

DID YOU GIVE RICKY A DEADLINE FOR A DECISION?

"Not really. He had a deadline. It must have been something that was gonna happen, but maybe it didn't happen. If the deadlines keep coming along, I'm not gonna say when the next one is. I mean, I would like to get my head straight. I'd like to lay down one night and have a good night's sleep and not have all of these scenarios in my head. It's not like working on an engine. I can take an engine and beat it around and make it work right. People, you just have to wait until the stars line up and everybody gets on the same deal. There are several good scenarios for everybody here. It's a little bit like musical chairs -- there may not be a seat for everybody but I just want to make sure I'm in front of a good one when it stops."

WHAT ABOUT THE TIME YOU'VE HAD WITH RICKYI SO FAR?

"I like what was going on. Ricky has done a great job with the 28 team. We work good together. He's fun to work with. He's very talented. His back is not hurting him. I wouldn't have changed this, but it just happened to be that we signed a three-year deal and not a four-year deal. We should have pushed it last year and not this year." WHAT IF YOU THREW ALL THE OMNEY IN THE POT?

"What happens is the longer a deal stays together, the heavier it gets. It's like a lot of corporations -- you always give raises, but you never give pay cuts. We've grown from 11 employees to 160 employees and it gets heavier and heavier. I've got to make sure that I come out, financially, right-side up. I've looked through at how can I cut costs. This garage area is packed with people and everybody is making a living off this deal and it's a good thing. I can't do it in my head anymore. I've got to sit down with paper and I've just got to make it work out. I don't want to come across and sound like I'm a greedy person that won't do it, but my pockets are as shallow as yours, so I've got to make sure it stays that way. It could get upside-down in a hurry when you're dealing with the numbers we're dealing with. That's just the way it is. I've got to run a business. A business has got to have a positive bottom line. We share 50 percent of everything we make with the driver and they get good salaries. Those salaries are getting better and better. Well, it's time for the Jerry Joneses to come in and pay us all better money or something. This is what we could do, but we can't do more than that. We have great sponsors. Texaco has been a super sponsor for years and years. I signed up to do a deal for a certain amount of money, so I've got to make it work. Sometimes I can't afford that crew chief or I can't afford this or that as much as I'd like to. In racing, a lot of times we think, 'Well, we've got to have everything,' you can't say no, but still I'm not a gambler. I won't stand and put my last dollar in a slot machine. I mean, I wouldn't go borrow a dollar to put in the slot machine. I'll spend my last dollar. I won't go borrow a dollar because there's nothing left after the deal."

ARE YOU SAYING DOUG YATES WON'T HAVE A TEAM NEXT YEAR?

"I wouldn't say he won't. He's had several opportunities and he has one right now. Over the last two or three years, he's had several almost put-together deals, but for whatever reason, he didn't do it. Bit I think there's a time that he will do it, but he wants to come out here and run well when he does it, so, whether it's this year or a year in the future, at some point I would love to see that. We all want our kids to do well."

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HIM AS A CAR OWNER?

"Make sure you're not borrowing money. Always do it on the positive side financially. Don't borrow any money to do it. You talk about sweating. I think the worst days at the race track, I remember my first year in business, I didn't know if I was gonna make the payroll if we didn't run good. It seemed like we always crashed and burned on those days. You talk about seating.

"If he can do it, do it financially sound because the most stress you can have in your life, I think, is financial. Just position yourself where you can do it without going to the bank."

WILL TEXACO BE WITH YOU NEXT YEAR?

"Three years ago we did a five-year extension on our contract. We've never gotten into the last year of our contract, but then our contract was sold to Chevron because Texaco got bought out. I guess the sad part to me is I miss that star on the hood. As a kid, the cleanest, neatest service station in town was a Texaco station. To me, I'm more saddened by Texaco being dissolved than I am about probably anything else right now. We have two more years with them."

-ford-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing