After months of speculation, Robert Yates Racing and driver Elliott Sadler have confirmed that Sadler will leave the No. 38 Ford Fusion at the end of the 2006 season. Sadler has been confirmed as the new driver of the No. 19 Evernham Motorsports...
After months of speculation, Robert Yates Racing and driver Elliott Sadler have confirmed that Sadler will leave the No. 38 Ford Fusion at the end of the 2006 season. Sadler has been confirmed as the new driver of the No. 19 Evernham Motorsports Dodge, taking the reigns from Jeremy Mayfield next year.
"We would like to thank Elliott for his commitment to our organization over the past four seasons and for all the success we've enjoyed together", said Robert Yates. "We are excited about the opportunity to find a new driver who will continue the successful run of the #38 Ford as we maintain our focus on the future of our organization."
Since Sadler's breakout year in 2004, when he earned two wins and made the Chase for the Nextel Cup, he has had little success. In 2005, he garnered just one top five finish, wound up 13th in points and left people wondering what had happened to the once victorious team. Revolving crew chiefs did little to help Sadler's plight or the performance of the No. 38 team.
RYR hired veteran crew chief Tommy Baldwin to oversee Sadler this season, but the two never seemed to gel. The only success Baldwin and Sadler have had in 2006 is one pole and one top five. They are a distant 20th in points with no chance of making the Chase field this season.
Sadler's name has been in the rumor mill since early summer after reporters found out that Sadler's contract contained a performance 'out-clause' that would allow him to leave RYR of his choosing. Despite frequent denials the writing was on the wall after various team sources began to talk of Sadler's departure during the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Last weekend in New Hampshire, Speed TV outed the deal between Evernham and Sadler during their broadcast.
Sadler's departure leaves the struggling Yates organization in a lurch. Earlier this season their other driver, Dale Jarrett, announced he too would get off the sinking ship and head for higher ground at Michael Waltrip Incorporated Racing. Now, Yates has two Cup series seats to fill.
It is thought that youngster Stephen Leicht is a good bet to field the No. 88 car next season; he will attempt to make his Cup series debut this weekend at Pocono International Raceway. Veterans Ricky Rudd and Ward Burton have both been mentioned as possible candidates to take over the M&M's car in 2007. Multiple sources confirmed that M&M's would stay with Yates as primary sponsor of the No. 38 Ford.
You'll not find anyone who doesn't say that Robert Yates is one of the nicest guys in the garage and to see his once dominant company in so much trouble is worrisome. Roush Racing has offered chassis assistance to return the favor for the engine program help they received from RYR two years ago.
"Our objective this year is to finish the season on a strong note," said Doug Yates. "It is our goal to continue to build this team so we will be better positioned next season to contend for the championship."
Richard Childress Racing is the best example of an organization's ability to come back. You won't find anyone who is not rooting for Robert Yates Racing to find a way back to championship contention.