Legendary engine builder, team owner Robert Yates has fond memories of Darlington Raceway


Darlington Raceway has long been NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Robert Yates’ home away from home.

First as a fan, then as a pit crew member, an engine builder and eventually as a team owner, Yates and the “Lady In Black” have had a courtship that has lasted a half-century.

Yates recently discussed that love affair, as well as some of the high points of his career there.

“What I remember so much about Darlington was I used to go there before I was in racing,” Yates said. “I’d go with some of my school buddies from East Carolina and we’d go to the Southern 500 and sit under the shade and watch the people go crazy.

“It was the most fun watching the cars sideways off that corner, so Darlington was one of my favorite tracks. I saw Cale (Yarborough) when he went over the wall. I was actually down on the other end of the track, but many light years later that was the first place I was on a pit crew.”

Yates was an integral part of the development team that built the legendary Boss 429 Ford engine. Yates began working with the fabled Holman-Moody team in 1967, shortly after Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second straight year.

Yates formed his namesake Robert Yates Racing in 1989, with Davey Allison as his driver.

The team continued through 2009, amassing 1,155 starts among 16 different drivers – including Allison, Ricky Rudd, Kenny Irwin Jr., Ernie Irvan, Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett – with 57 wins, 270 top-fives, 433 top-10s and 49 poles.

Those numbers included 59 starts at Darlington with all three of Yates’ Sprint Cup wins there coming with Jarrett behind the wheel.

However, none of those three wins by Jarrett came in the Southern 500.

Jarrett also captured three of RYR’s six poles at Darlington, including two for the Southern 500.

“When Dale sat on the pole I said, ‘That is a man’s pole,’ because that was one of the toughest places and that’s something that when we hired Dale he never sat on a pole anywhere,” Yates said. “The first race out with him we sat on the Daytona 500 pole, but Darlington poles are very, very good.”

But long before Yates formed his own race team, he experienced what it means to win at Darlington while working for team owner Richard Howard in 1972, when Bobby Allison earned the second of his three career Southern 500 wins.

“I had been nervous the whole time getting ready to gas the car, so a lot of firsts happened for me there, but I always remember the time that Bobby Allison was driving for us,” Yates said.

“We were so-so, but I figured out something with the carburetor that was legal and when I tried it we were so fast.

“The Southern 500 was a tough race and a hot race. You had to be good at handling and you had to be good at everything. They dropped the flag and Bobby’s car came off of (turn) four and nobody else’s did. I was like, ‘What happened to the field?’ But he was that much further ahead of everybody.

“The focus Bobby Allison had that day was incredible. That 1972 win, I’ve still got a sticker on my tool box that says Southern 500 Win. Winning the Southern 500 was probably like the Daytona 500.

“That (Allison’s win in 1972) was one of my favorite wins, along with Dale winning there three times.”

Yates will be at Darlington this weekend, reliving some of his most favorite racing memories there, particularly in the days before he made racing his life’s work.

“It was always a real fun race,” Yates said. “To see those cars come off of (turn) four, which is turn two now, was always a lot of fun. Those covered grandstands were very noisy, but I’ve got great memories sitting there. After seeing that I just knew I had to get into this sport because I loved it.”

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Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.