Yates says aero department is top priority
DOVER, Del. -- Car owner Robert Yates believes his team needed to make changes to re-establish itself among the elite of NASCAR after both Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler failed to make the season-ending Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.
"It's aerodynamics," Yates said, pinpointing of the problem that has former champion Jarrett out of the title picture for the second straight year.
Earlier this week, Yates reunited Jarrett with crew chief Todd Parrott. Together, they won two Daytona 500s and the 1999 Cup title. They also combined for 26 of Jarrett's 31 career victories.
Yates knows the solution lies in making better setups and sleeker cars. The engines built by son Doug certainly aren't the problem. Roush Racing, in an engine partnership with Yates, has 11 victories and half of the 10 drivers battling for the title.
Still, Robert Yates said Doug will be the point man in the program to improve performance beyond the engines.
"He's laid out the template, and I expect to really engineer this thing so all the pressure is not on the crew chiefs," the elder Yates said Friday at Dover International Speedway.
Doug Yates is ready for the challenge.
"I feel like the engine program is pretty solid," he said. "It's always nice to say you can take one part out of the equation and say,' OK, that part is OK right now. Let's go to work on the next part.'"
Robert is accepting responsibility for the team's failures because he had an eye on next year, when a new Ford model will present another set of problems.
"We were in such a hurry for '06 that we missed the last of '05," he said.
Parrott had been leading Sadler's crew for just over two years, calling the shots for two wins and a spot in last year's Chase. He replaces Bill Wilburn, interim crew chief since Mike Ford quit earlier in the season.
Although the team was third in the points earlier this season, Sadler plummeted in the standings and failed to qualify for the Chase. Kevin Buskirk, an engineer on Sadler's team, will finish the season as interim crew chief.
Petty's Sprint Car circuit
The Richard Petty Driving Experience will no longer be limited to putting would-be racers and thrill seekers behind the wheel of stock cars. It also will become a sanctioning body for sprint-car racing next season.
With top racers such as 19-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser in the fold, the National SprintCar League will be in business in 2006. Setting a schedule and securing a national TV contract are the first steps in the process.
"We plan on bringing our show to many of the sprint car tracks such as Eldora Speedway, Williams Grove Speedway and Knoxville Raceway," said Petty, a seven-time NASCAR champion.
He has one large piece of the puzzle already in place. NASCAR Nextel Cup points leader Tony Stewart, promoter at Eldora in Ohio, is an enthusiastic supporter of the series led by Petty and son Kyle.
"We all feel comfortable that with Richard and Kyle involved this is in good hands," Stewart said with most of the top drivers standing behind him Friday at Dover International Speedway. "If you don't have that, you might as well not waste your time."
Kyle Petty said he was gratified by the support of Stewart, himself a former sprint car champion and present car owner for champion Danny Lasoski. Petty expects Stewart's status and the love of the sport shown by other top NASCAR stars to be essential to the success of the endeavor.
"Tony, as well as his NASCAR friends, Kenny Schrader, Dave Blaney and Kasey Kahne, have their roots in sprint car racing," the younger Petty said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press