Skip Eyler Released as No. 98 Crew Chief

Eyler released as crew chief of No. 98 By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 13, 1998) Skip Eyler was officially released from his duties as crew chief of Cale Yarborough's No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Ford team on Monday, and will be ...

Eyler released as crew chief of No. 98 By Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 13, 1998) Skip Eyler was officially released from his duties as crew chief of Cale Yarborough's No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Ford team on Monday, and will be replaced on an interim basis by Michael McSwain, beginning with this weekend's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

McSwain, the former crew chief for the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford team, has agreed to finish out the season with Cale Yarborough Motorsports, but team manager Marlene Emery said McSwain will seek out other opportunities for next season.

Eyler, who formerly was the crew chief of the No. 97 John Deere Ford team with Roush Racing, left Yarborough's shop on Monday and McSwain took over the crew chief duties the same day.

"We parted with Skip on great terms," Emery said. "The last two or three weeks we haven't been running well. He had some experience with Roush Racing and he brought that knowledge over to us. It worked over there, but it just didn't work for us and he was the first to admit that. There was no hard feelings at all. Skip just wanted what was best for the team."

Since a fourth-place run at Martinsville on Sept. 27, the Thorn Apple Valley Ford team and driver Rich Bickle have struggled. Bickle finished 17th in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte two weeks ago, and then failed to qualify for the Winston 500 last weekend at Talladega.

Emery said the team would not commit to McSwain, and vice-versa, for next season, due to the team's 1999 sponsorship status. Thorn Apple Valley, which has a three-year contract with Cale Yarborough Motorsports running through the year 2000, is currently experiencing financial problems, Emery said, and may not return as the primary sponsor on the No. 98 Ford next season.

Joel Dorfman, president of Thorn Apple Valley, has said publicly that Thorn Apple Valley's sponsorship of Yarborough's team could be a casualty of the company's problems, but Emery said the team hasn't been informed of a decision yet, either way.

Until then, the team will sit tight as to any decisions on a crew chief or a driver for next year. Bickle is still one of the leading candidates to drive the car next season.

"We've been in this financial situation before with Fingerhut and, right now, we're just sitting on the fence," Emery said. "That's why we're in the process right now of actively seeking sponsorship for next season. Thorn Apple Valley has been a good company for us and they came into NASCAR with loaded guns, but right now they're in limbo, and we need to try to take care of business for next season.

"Rich has gotten some other offers, and he's looking at those. He's been through this situation before, too, and he doesn't want to get stuck again like he was at the beginning of this year. We don't blame him for that at all. Hopefully Cale will get something going on here soon, but we've heard no statement from Thorn Apple Valley just yet."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Cale Yarborough