Kyle Busch’s expectations of teammates? ‘Do what you need to do’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Kyle Busch’s expectations of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates from this point on are simple.

“Race hard. Go for the win. Do what you need to do,’’ he said.

It’s the last part he had an issue with a week ago at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch’s patience wore thin when he and Matt Kenseth could not get by teammate Denny Hamlin late in the race as Jimmie Johnson pulled away to win. Hamlin finished third, Kenseth fourth and Busch fifth.

“We’re letting the 48 win this race,’’ Busch radioed his team. “You got to be (expletive) kidding me.’’

Busch remained upset after the race.

“We worked so good together, we gave the 48 car the win today,’’ he said. “That’s how good JGR is.’’

Car owner Joe Gibbs met with all four drivers this week to work through last weekend’s issues.

“The reason Denny did what he did is because now he has a third-place finish … which is the best of Matt and I if there was a tiebreaker situation,’’ Busch said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “That’s what Denny was looking for. I get it. I understand it. I didn’t in the time frame in which we were racing. I was more so focused on one of us going to get the win and try to keep all of us eligible for Homestead.

“Denny did what he needed to do for the 11 team, which is respectable and understandable.’’

Hamlin is familiar with the tiebreaker system after advancing to this round by a tiebreaker (a third-place finish at Talladega) over Austin Dillon.

“This format obviously lends itself to a different situation than maybe in years past and maybe I was expecting a little bit different than what transpired in the race on Sunday,’’ Busch said. “We talked. Forgive and forget, move on.’’

This isn’t the first time Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have had issues on the track. The most notable example came at Richmond in April when Edwards bumped Busch out of the lead on the last lap to win that race.

“If you go back and watch throughout the year, we race each other hard,’’ Edwards said Friday. “There’s teamwork as much as you can have teamwork, but we’re competitors and we race each other very hard in that you’re going to have times when people are frustrated and that’s part of it.

“What we have as a group is something that I think is really special. I can tell you my three teammates have made me a better teammate and I’m grateful for that. When we have issues, we get right to it and we resolve it. I would do anything for my teammates, and I feel they would do the same. Yeah, we get frustrated with each other, but you get frustrated with everybody on the race track.’’

With every position critical and two races left before the championship field is set, it will be more difficult for teammates to help each other. Johnson’s Martinsville win leaves three spots left for the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That guarantees that all four Gibbs cars won’t be racing for a crown later this month.

With that in mind, teamwork can only go so far.

“I think our teamwork at Joe Gibbs Racing is second to none,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “I’ve had a lot of great teammates, none any better than what I have now, that’s for sure. Everybody is really, really competitive and wants to win.

“Our goal was to have four cars at Homestead and now there’s only three spots left. Every week we talk about what we can do to help each other, and make things better but we also realize when they drop the green on Sunday, it’s one against 39 and have to get the best finish we can for our respective teams.”

Long: Hall of Fame moment is special for father and son

Photo by Dustin Long
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CHARLOTTE — Sleep has not come easy for Doug Yates in some time.

It has only gotten worse lately.

He can’t stop thinking of his father, Robert, who battles liver cancer. Robert has undergone chemotherapy, but at one point doctors said they weren’t sure what how to treat the 74-year-old former NASCAR team owner and engine builder who was selected to the 2018 Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday.

That helpless feeling of not solving a problem counters what Robert and Doug have done all their lives. If there was an issue with an engine, they worked harder and longer until they fixed the matter.

This they can’t.

While Robert Yates undergoes experimental treatments, Doug is there to help take care of his father. There are bad days, Doug says, wincing.

“What I see is a man who is broken down and built back up because he is watching his father,’’ said Whitney Yates, Doug’s wife. “Sometimes (Robert) is so sick he can’t do anything and Doug is there.’’

They are more than father and son. They share a treasured relationship not every boy and his dad experiences, their bonds woven early and strengthened with each day together.

Doug fondly recalls sleeping on a cot in a race shop when he was about 5 years old while his father worked on an engine through the night. They traveled to races together. Doug reminisces of a trip to Richmond where his father, tired from work, told his son, then 12, to take the wheel while he slept. Yet, when a deer ran across their path, it was Robert who asked his son if he saw that.

They often went to the race shop together. Although family, Robert was still the boss. He would be hard on his son at times, but Doug cherishes even those memories.

Robert was only teaching his son what it took to succeed. Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett won two Daytona 500s and Davey Allison won another for Robert Yates Racing. Jarrett won the 1999 Cup championship with the team. As an owner, Robert Yates won 57 Cup races and 48 poles.

Now, Doug is the boss. He oversees the “vision” his father had of the Roush Yates Engines shop, which powered Kurt Busch to a Daytona 500 win and Ford teams to four other victories in the season’s first 11 races.

“He wants to make (his dad) proud,’’ Whitney said of Doug. “He’s always trying so hard.

“Doug is always moving the bar. I think Robert is so proud of that.’’

While Doug does what he can for his father and the family business, he couldn’t control what happened at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The past three years Robert, Doug and the rest of the family came to the Hall of Fame to see if Robert would be selected. Five are chosen each year. Robert ranked sixth in votes received twice, just missing enshrinement.

Robert Yates reacts after he is announced to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Each time, Robert said the voting panel got it right.

“Selfishly, I didn’t think so, but he did,’’ Doug said. “That was a lesson for me. Everything happens for a reason.’’

As Wednesday approached, Doug Yates’ anxiety grew. It was worse Wednesday morning and throughout the day.

As Doug walked into Hall of Fame, ahead of his father, he conceded he was “nervous.’’

He also was prepared.

Doug stocked multiple tissues in the pockets of his slacks.

“If he didn’t make it, I was going to break down,’’ Doug said of his father making the Hall of Fame. “If he did, I was going to break down.’’

Robert also felt nervous.

“If I don’t get in,’’ Robert told himself before the announcement, “that’s the reason to work real hard to be here next year to get in.’’

The family didn’t have to wait long to celebrate.

Robert Yates, who received 94 percent of the vote, was announced first.

“Wow,’’ Doug said. “I’m glad that’s over.’’

His father, sitting a row in front of Doug, reached back. Doug leaned forward. They held hands. 

After that it was a matter of relishing what had happened as four other men — Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ken Squier and Ron Hornady Jr. — were selected to join Robert Yates in the next Hall of Fame Class.

Doug stay composed throughout. He wiped his eyes once.

When the ceremony ended, Robert Yates reached his arm around wife Carolyn and embraced her.

“My family means so much to me because they allowed me to work night and day,’’ Robert Yates said. “Do I love engines? Yes, whether one cylinder, two cylinders, six or 12 or 24. I love engines.’’

That passion led him to this moment.

“I feel like I could take a jack,’’ said the former jackman.

“I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight.’’

Doug Yates will.

His father will be in the Hall of Fame.

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Announcer Ken Squier elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

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With 40 percent of the vote, announcer Ken Squier was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Squier, 82, is one of the most iconic voices in NASCAR history.

A co-founder of the Motor Racing Network, Squier is famous for his call of the 1979 Daytona 500 on CBS, which was the first NASCAR race to be broadcast live on TV flag-to-flag. It was Squier who nicknamed the Daytona 500 the “Great American Race.”

Squier called races on CBS and TBS until 1997. For the last two years he has been a regular contributor to NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage, including calling select portions of the Southern 500.

“It feels pretty darn good,” Squier told NASCAR America. “I announced so many races in so many places and met so many people. That’s the overwhelming feeling. To get this honor from the stock car crowd, that to me is beyond belief because there’s so many others that are doing similar things. So many people who are so committed and so caring about this sport and to think that I’ve been sort of singled out, I’ve never quite understood that.”

 

 

Four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

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With 38 percent of the vote, Ron Hornaday Jr. was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Hornaday, 58, is a four-time champion of the Camping World Truck Series and holds the series’ wins record with 51 victories.

Hornaday raced in the series from its inception in 1995 through 1999 and then from 2005 through 2014.

He’s the first Truck Series champion to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

“There wasn’t even a Hall of Fame when I started racing, you just do it to put food on the table and enjoy it,” Hornaday told NASCAR America. “There’s so many people (to thank) … I don’t know who to thank and where to start.”

Hornaday won two of his championships driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and two for Kevin Harvick.

Ray Evernham, leader of the ‘Rainbow Warriors,’ elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

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With 52 percent of the vote, Ray Evernham was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Evernham, 59, was the crew chief for Jeff Gordon and the “Rainbow Warriors” when they won three Cup Series championships from 1995-1998.

Evernham and Gordon won 47 races together before Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports in 1999 to lead Dodge’s return to NASCAR.

Evernham was in Indianapolis when he learned of his election to the Hall of Fame.

“I got my first NASCAR license in 1978 and that’s a long time ago,” Evernham told NASCAR America. “It’s a huge sense of relief but it’s also a very, very humbling feeling. There’s so many of my heroes who are in the Hall of Fame and so many of them that are nominated. When you have your name even mentioned in that, it’s incredible. This sport has been everything to me. It’s all I ever wanted to do, It’s all I’ve ever done.”