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Yates shoots down merger rumors and sticks with Ford

Yates shoots down merger rumors and sticks with Ford

Yates shoots down merger rumors and sticks with Ford
June 1, 2007

DOVER, Del. (AP) -No merger for now for Robert Yates. His racing team is sticking with Ford.

Yates, who had been flirting with merging his team with Dale Earnhardt Inc., signed a five-year contract with Ford Racing Technology on Friday.

``We're happy about this being done because there was speculation out there that we didn't have anything or that we were looking elsewhere,'' Yates said. ``It wasn't true, but it's hard to quiet your critics, especially when your competition is trying to shoot you down, so I want to thank Ford for being loyal to us.''

Robert Yates Racing fields two cars in Nextel Cup with drivers David Gilliland in the No. 38 and Ricky Rudd in the No. 88. Rudd is 31st in the points standings; Gilliland is 34th.

The agreement continues a 19-year relationship that began when Yates became a car owner in 1988. Yates' teams have won 57 Nextel Cup series races, including the Daytona 500 three times, and one series championship in 1999.

WELCOME BACK: David Hyder would like to pump some life into Jeremy Mayfield's awful season.

Hyder took over as crew chief for the No. 36 OTC Toyota after NASCAR lifted his indefinite suspension for breaking the rules at the Daytona 500.

Hyder was thrown out of the garage when an illegal additive was found in Michael Waltrip's car during Daytona 500 preparations. Hyder, also fined $100,000, parted ways with Waltrip in late April.

Hyder took over from Bill Davis Racing interim crew chief Tommy Baldwin, who stayed on as competition direction.

``It's good to be back and it's great to have an opportunity like this one,'' Hyder said. ``From what I can see, we have everything we need to build this No. 36 team into something we can all be proud of and I'm ready to get started.''

Mayfield needs all the help he can get. He's started only four other races and hasn't finished higher than 23rd. Maybe something clicked on Friday - Mayfield qualified a season-high 20th for the race at Dover International Speedway.

``We've known each other for years,'' Mayfield said. ``I think he and I are going to be good together.''

COT: The Car of Tomorrow will make its sixth appearance in a Nextel Cup race on Sunday, and it could get perhaps its toughest test yet on the concrete mile oval, high-banked track.

The COT was set to run 16 races this season and then phased into competition during the next two years. Although it was supposed to run exclusively starting in 2009, it could make a full-time debut in only two more years.

Most drivers have been critical of the COT, complaining about its handling and calling it difficult to drive, but they preferred going to one program. On Friday, most drivers seemed to be adjusting just fine to the new car.

``I was a little worried about it when practice started, but we came a long way with our car,'' said Martin Truex Jr. ``It's a big challenge, especially on a track like this with high-speed corner entry.''

Maybe it just takes some getting used to, though that was made more difficult when NASCAR canceled a two-day test session here in May because rain postponed a race at Darlington Raceway.

``These things are great race cars, you just have to get a handle on them,'' said Carl Edwards.''

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