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Examining Yates' No. 88 options
RYR announcementTim from Whitsett, N.C.: During Busch qualifying, you said that a veteran driver would be named in a couple of weeks to drive the No. 88 Cup car for Robert Yates Racing next season. Could you give us some insight into who it will be?
Larry McReynolds: The Yates organization was very tight-lipped and close to the vest about what they are doing. But they were adamant in telling me that within two to three weeks they would announce a major sponsor for the No. 88 car. In the same time frame, they would announce a driver that was going to knock NASCAR fans off their feet. It's almost like a big tangled web. Mark Martin wants to run a partial schedule next season. Roush Racing has to trim back to four teams. Yates is in trouble. It's a big puzzle with a lot of little pieces that everybody is trying to put in place before it can actually become a reality.
Return of Rudd?Shawn from Reading, Mass.: Hey Larry, any news on Ricky Rudd's driving plans for 2007? How about going back to the Wood Brothers? Larry McReynolds: Never say never, but I would be pretty surprised if Ricky Rudd returned to racing. He was tired after 25 consecutive seasons without missing a race. When he didn't show up for the Daytona 500 this year, it was the first time that he missed a race since Riverside, Calif. in January of 1981. Rudd has a son, and he wants to spend some time with him. I worked with Rudd for a couple of years, and I just don't see him doing a Bill Elliott or Terry Labonte deal of 10 races a year. I never saw it in him to do a farewell tour. When he walked away, I thought that he would walk away and not come back. He helped out the No. 20 team when Tony Stewart was hurt, but that was just for one weekend.
When I was Rudd's crew chief, he drove for Kenny Bernstein. Like our buddy Darrell Waltrip, Bernstein will continue his final tour next season, returning to the cockpit of a Funny Car in 2007. I'm happy for Kenny. When I talked to him a few months after my wife and I attended what was to be his last race at Pomona, Calif., he said retirement was absolutely killing him because his life is drag racing. Good for him. I know Kenny well enough to know he's going to be competitive, or he wouldn't do it. He's not going to be there just to be there. That's not him.
Ward waitsMichael from Jacksonville, Fla.: Do you think Ward Burton will ever drive again at any level? He was great for the sport and is the driver that got me into racing.
|Speed Mail Larry McReynolds|
Larry McReynolds: Ward Burton's name just will not go away and rightly so. In my book right now, we have a huge shortage of good race car drivers, but Burton turns 45 in October so his age isn't in his favor. The 2002 Daytona 500 winner has been offered some rides in different divisions, but he's financially prepared himself so he won't come back just to come back. It's going to have to be a good ride. People keep wanting to link him to the Yates deal, and I may end up being totally shocked. But I have seen no indication that Burton and Yates are going to hook up. We'll just have to watch and see.
Roush chassis at Yates?Keith from Ypsilanti, Mich.: If Mark Martin goes to Robert Yates Racing to help them next year, will Yates start using Roush chassis on a more regular basis? Larry McReynolds: I really don't because RYR has already tried them. I don't think there's any magic in a Roush chassis. Whether you've got a Roush chassis, a Yates chassis or a store-bought chassis from Hopkins, you've still got to do the right things to it.
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.
"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.