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Sweet deal keeps Yates in business
Robert Yates said at long last he has a deal put together to keep his team intact for 2007 and will campaign both the No. 38 with David Gilliland and the No. 88 with a driver to be named later, as well as his No. 90 Busch Series car with Stephen Leicht. Obviously for all the Yates fans, this is great news, as the No. 88 is one of NASCAR's most storied cars and Yates one of its longest-tenured owners. I'm told that Robert turned down huge sums of money from one of the Toyota teams to buy the number so it would have his owner points and therefore a guaranteed spot in the field during the first five races of 2007. Yates, who twice this year has been hospitalized for stress-related ailments, has endured a nightmare 2006, losing both his Cup drivers, both his crew chiefs, his general manager and one of his sponsors. But Friday at Homestead he seemed genuinely optimistic for the first time in a long time.
Sauter gets No. 88 seat?Tim from Mccoll, S.C.: Who do you think will be the driver for the No. 88 car? If it's Johnny Sauter as rumored, will crew chief Bootie Barker join him at Yates? Tom Jensen: Yes, it's looking more and more like Johnny Sauter will be the driver of the No. 88. I've not heard anything so far about a crew chief.
Sweet dealTheo from Mountain Home, Texas: Do you think the supposed (which fell through) merger of RYR & RG would have been a good thing? I agree that RYR not seling to DEI is a good thing - for all involved. Big question is: what does the future hold for RYR with good sponsor, no sponsor, possible sponsor, no driver, possible driver, pretty darn good driver (David G. has not been shabby), losing sponsor, losing two drivers, etc.? Tom Jensen: Honestly, I think both Robby Gordon and Robert Yates will be happier doing their own deals. You need to have one person in charge and things get messy when two people are in charge. Yates said that he has a sponsor for the No. 88 next year believed to be a sister candy brand to M&M's and he's fired up about 2007.
Rudd's return; provisional change?Karin from Sidney, Ohio: Hi Tom. Any more news on Past Champ Provisional changes for 2007? Any more news on the status of Ricky Rudd? Dang, I am a happy camper today, looks like I may still have a car (88) to root for next year!! I'm so happy I could eat a can of Pedigree...LOL.... Thanks :) Tom Jensen: I've not heard anything definite on the status of Ricky Rudd. After I got your question, I walked into the garage here at Homestead and spoke with NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter about the past champion's provisional. His answer was, "We haven't done anything yet, but it's definitely on our radar screen for next year."
Helping hand?Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.: I was sad to hear that PPI is expected to shut down after today's race and to see the struggles of teams like RYR and the Wood Brothers. Tony George in the IRL often seems to step up and help struggling teams find sponsorships to keep going. Why don't the billionaire Frances do something similar to keep these deserving owners in the sport? If they truly want to limit the multicar juggernauts, isn't it in NASCAR/ISC's/the France family's interest to keep teams like these in business and able to compete?
Send your questions & comments to Tom
Tom Jensen: There are plenty of cars already committed for next season, and as long as that's the case, NASCAR will not intercede. In all fairness to NASCAR, there's a certain amount of "churn" to teams every year, and this year will be no exception.