Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yates Racing and Silly Season

Whoever came up with the term Silly Season should be shot! It really is a Season of Misery and Angst. And this season is no different. And for fans of Yates Racing, David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil, the Season of Misery and Angst has been one lasting for two seasons.

Many in the media have acknowledged that Yates Racing has been amazing at putting together sponsorship deals to keep afloat. Running a very lean operation has also been noted as a factor for keeping some success going. Fans of both drivers gave up on asking for permanent sponsors, and it became a game to see who would be the next sponsor for the next race. Indeed, Travis Kvapil has had a parade of sponsors, with several one-offs. David has been fortunate to have a single sponsor for the first half of the season, FreeCreditReport.com.

Last night, the message boards for both David and Travis were abuzz with the news of an impending announcement that Paul Menard was coming to Yates Racing, and bringing his father's sponsorship with him. The story appeared first at ThatsRacin.com, but the fans of David and Travis both focused on the article at Foxsports.com. One pair of sentences had both sets of fans excited!

FOXSports.com's Lee Spencer has learned that Menard will drive a third car at Yates. No announcement has been made regarding the crew chief for the new team.
Jubilation then turned to worry when that same story was updated with the official Associated Press version by Jenna Fryer, and the above statement was no longer included. Fans scurried all over the net, finding anything that stated the likelihood of a three car team for 2009.

Today, the fans awoke to see Jayski.com linking to an article on Frontstretch.com, written by Tom Bowles. While hard to tell if it is from knowledge or speculation, it is still disquieting for both sets of fans to try to digest.

Yates Racing has struggled to find sponsorship funding this season, and has utilized the resources of both Roush Fenway Racing and Ford in order to keep their team afloat. Menard's presence secures them funding for at least one full-time team in 2009, but will mean the axe for either Travis Kvapil or David Gilliland if enough sponsorship isn't found to expand to three cars.

At this point, both sets of fans are sitting on pins and needles. We know the logic of how devastating the economy has become. We know there are struggles, and that Doug Yates and Max Jones are committed to making their operation work. While we know there is a need for steady income, it will be heartbreaking for the fans of either driver, if one should be cut.

Indeed, we may know why, but we won't like it. And frankly, if David is let go, it will be the last straw for me as a fan of Yates Racing, Ford and quite probably NASCAR.