Unsponsored Kvapil loses Yates ride

Updated: March 23, 2009, 9:32 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Yates Racing will suspend operations of the No. 28 Sprint Cup team of Travis Kvapil due to lack of sponsorship following Sunday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The team stood 39th in points after finishing 18th Sunday.

Kvapil
Kvapil

A decision on how many employees will be laid off has not been made. Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Fenway Racing that partners with Yates, said most of the 28 team members will be dispersed to other parts of the organization.

"It's difficult to be in a situation when you have to deal with the consequences of the economy," Smith said. "We're in a situation where there's no extra cash to support running an unsponsored car for any period of time.

"If the economy picks up later in the season maybe we'll be able to pick up something for that team."

Yates and Roush poured a lot of money into the 28 program for Kvapil to drive much of last season without full sponsorship. He finished 23rd in points, which Smith hoped was good enough to attract sponsors.

Those points were given to Bobby Labonte when Hall of Fame Racing partnered with Yates, leaving Kvapil having to qualify for the first five races.

The team suffered a major setback when Kvapil failed to make the third race at Las Vegas. That was compounded a week later when a blown engine left him 42nd at Atlanta.

"This puts a premium on performance," Smith said of the economic situation. "The team struggled at a real critical time when they couldn't afford to struggle."

Smith wasn't optimistic sponsorship for Kvapil will come this season. He's having enough trouble with selling sponsorship for some of his other programs, such as Aflac on Carl Edwards' car, that have asked for relief.

Roush has sponsors for all of its drivers through at least 2010 except Matt Kenseth, whose deal with DeWalt expires after this year. Smith said he's working with DeWalt to find a partner for next season.

"There's a lot of pressure internally and externally for sponsors to decrease participation and find a partner or pull back altogether," Smith said. "There just aren't enough sponsors on our side of the garage to go around right now."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter