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Ford teams increase partnership
By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published September 9, 2007
RICHMOND, Va. - Roush Fenway Racing's new, cozier alliance with Yates Racing will not only fulfill manufacturer Ford's wish for its teams to share more information, but likely will solve a major problem for Nextel Cup's largest team.
With NASCAR mandating a four-car limit per team beginning in 2009 or '10, Roush Fenway likely will sell one of its programs to the two-car Yates operation, adhering to the rule but reaping the same benefits as keeping it in-house. It would be paid for providing services to Yates. But the best part for Roush Fenway, a team that often has had its forward thinking thwarted by NASCAR, is that it is totally legal.
"There would be concern if you had everything in one facility," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. "That's why we've gone to the four-car limit. There's business sense in buying cars and going and employing an engineering staff that has the resources that make your teams run better."
Geoff Smith, president of Roush Fenway, said his team showed NASCAR its business plan before announcing its union with Yates - it has no ownership stake in the team but will continue collaborative engine-building - and Smith seemed confident.
"They have a fleet of detectives that follow these transactions around the garage and they interview everybody, they look at things," he said. "We've been through that process."
Smith wouldn't speculate on which Cup team could move to Yates. He said, "Yates Racing is a solution for us with regard to that fifth car, but that's not the only solution," but added, "certainly it won't shock anyone here in two years if we announce that's where it's going."
The key to the deal is Roush Fenway selling parts and services to Yates instead of leasing them. Smith called the process simple and essentially transferred the contract of Travis Kvapil to Yates; he'll drive its No.88 Ford in Nextel Cup next season. Roush Fenway fields Cup cars for Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan.
"Everything in the garage that is presently sold or shared for money, that's part of the NASCAR deal, it has to be an arms-length business," he said. "All those types of services that go on today are what we are going to do. Those engineers are bought and sold around the garage. There are test exercises that are bought and sold, cars that are bought and sold."
COLLECTIVE SIGH: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was relieved that his team for 2008, Hendrick Motorsports, re-signed with General Motors as expected. But not necessarily because it is the dominant manufacturer in NASCAR.
"I have amassed a small collection of cars at the house and I was more relieved about this announcement than anything because I don't want to start collecting anything else," he laughed.
SPARK PLUGS: Ricky Rudd, who separated his left shoulder in an accident last weekend at Fontana, Calif., became the first driver since 2003 to miss a race because of an injury suffered during a race. Kenny Wallace replaced him in the No.88 Ford. Jerry Nadeau's career was ended by a head injury sustained in a practice crash at Richmond.