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Earnhardt departure clears way for DEI/Yates merger UPDATE #3 Doug Yates, co-owner of Robert Yates Racing, said talks about a merger or partnership with Dale Earnhardt Inc. are part of just one scenario his team is considering.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can do to get our team as strong as we can get it, so we’ve looked at a lot of situations, DEI being one of them,” Yates said. “They’ve talked to us and we’ve talked to them, plus there is other stuff.

“We haven’t gotten anywhere with that in particular. Actually, we’re getting really close to some things that we think are going to help our team take that next step and make it strong for a long time to come. Hopefully, we can put some of that stuff together.”

Yates said this week’s announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will leave DEI at season’s end changes that potential equation.

“I think looking at DEI without Dale Jr. is a different situation,” Yates said.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s any better or any worse, it’s just different. ...I think it’s going to take a little while for everybody to realize how big a move that was for the sport and what that means to the sport and what that means to DEI and Dale Jr. going forward.”

Yates said that his team is committed to running Fords and he does not see that changing. If DEI would not shift from Chevrolets, he said that “is a deal breaker, I would guess.” ThatsRacin.com 

[Editor's Note:  Reeling Ford needs another good team in its fold like DEI so with Earnhardt gone expect this merger to happen with the 4-car team running Fords.]

04/30/07 In a bizarre twist to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Inc., DEI’s John Story, one of the company’s managers, and Ford team owner Robert Yates say they have been in informal merger negotiations for the past month. That could mean that Earnhardt Jr. is one step closer to leaving DEI, possibly to join car owner Richard Childress, who led his father to six NASCAR championships. Or it could mean the third-generation racer could switch from Chevrolet to Ford or Toyota.

The first option would seem much more likely than the second. Or the potential switch could simply be an attempt to put pressure on Chevrolet to pump more money into DEI. Whatever the real situation, the news was surprising.

Yates, whose son Doug heads Ford’s top engine-building operation, says he’ll stick with Ford Motor Company, even in such a merger or partnership. And it is highly unlikely that General Motors executives would give up their biggest star. So how a deal like this might work is not at all clear.

But then it’s not clear if the DEI-Yates talks even include Earnhardt Jr. There has been intense speculation that Earnhardt Jr. might leave DEI if he is unsuccessful in getting a contract to his liking - which he says centers around getting controlling interest in the company his father founded. Thus the DEI-Yates talks could be a move by DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt to help position DEI for life without its star racer. Winston Salem Journal

04/29/07 Robert Yates confirmed on Saturday that talks have resumed between Robert Yates Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. The topic of discussion: The possible sale of RYR to DEI. Last year when Yates spoke of entertaining partners, a contingent from DEI expressed interest. And as expansion is on the minds of most organizations in anticipation of a four-team maximum proposed by NASCAR, a DEI acquisition of RYR is a distinct possibility.

"The deal our family needs to make is for (son) Doug and his children's future," Yates said. "They want Doug, and I don't want to be the last team standing in the garage.

"The Earnhardts are a NASCAR franchise here. I've raced against three generations of Earnhardts — Ralph, Dale and Junior. The Earnhardts are the greatest people in the world to work with or race against."

Over the last few years, DEI's engine department has struggled as Richie Gilmore transitioned from chief engine builder to VP of competition. Although Gilmore has worked feverishly to rebuild DEI's engine program, he's the first to admit that someone of Doug Yates' caliber would make a tremendous difference.

"I think Doug could have a positive impact on anyone's engine shop," Gilmore said. "Doug is one of those guys who is in the top three in the industry. He's just a quality guy he has great procedures. He's put a lot of things in place with the Roush-Yates engine shop. To me he's like a Randy Dorton (who founded Hendrick Motorsports' engine dept) in the industry. He's that type of guy. He's could have a huge impact at DEI. He's a super guy all around."

With Chevrolet's roster currently up to 17 teams — including seven of the top 10 — it would make sense for DEI to consider aligning with Ford, a company that currently fields just nine teams in the Nextel Cup garage. With Hendrick Motorsports' dominance, Richard Childress' revival and Joe Gibbs Racing winning three of the last seven championships, DEI could easily be considered fourth in line.

Gilmore said Chevrolet has already submitted a new offer to DEI, and the company is willing to listen to offers. John Story, a DEI manager, said that three of the four manufacturers have made offers to the company.

Said Gilmore: "We look at the Chevrolet deal and with the key partners we all share a lot of resources on the engine side. Chevrolet doesn't have a pecking order. It's more of the teams themselves. I don't know how Ford does that. I've never worked with anybody in the Ford camp.

"One thing on the Ford side — they don't have as many teams. You've got Roush. You got the Yateses. What Chevrolet has is every organization has at least three teams and they're all strong. They have all the cars in the field every week. On that side of it I'd say we'd move up in the pecking order, but Chevrolet is a strong brand and all the cars run well."  FOX Sports 

04/29/07 It was reported on SPEED's Raceday that Dale Earnhardt Inc (DEI) is interested in buying Robert Yates Racing and that Yates is indeed interested in joining forces with DEI. It was also reported that the teams would end up being in the Chevy camp, which means Ford will lose another one of its top teams.  The result is that Ford will be more likely to get beat even worse than they do today.  Getting beat on a regular basis tarnishes their name and makes Ford look like an inferior product to the average consumer.  Chevy has walked all over Ford this year in NASCAR, and once Toyota stops laying low and taking their lumps for political reasons, they too will walk all over Ford just like they do in the Truck Series.  Sure Ford wins a token truck race or two, but for the most part the Cup and Busch series have become a Chevy parade and Trucks a Toyota parade.  We suspect Ford will be driven out of NASCAR when the bean counters realize the money spent in NASCAR could be better spent elsewhere in a more positive vane.
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