Yates, Jarrett and Toyota

UPDATE #4 There is still no word on which drivers Toyota might back, but Toyota may be making a run at car owner Joe Gibbs, with hopes of persuading the veteran Chevy man, and his three-man team of #20-Tony Stewart, #11-Denny Hamlin and #18-J. J. Yeley, to jump to the Camry brigade, according to sources. Chevy's Kevin Harvick continues to be a focal point of Toyota speculation. However, there is word that Harvick may be under consideration by Ford's Jack Roush for a driving job next season, though Harvick insists "I've not talked with Jack Roush, and I don't know Geoff Smith (Roush's contract attorney)." Smith was not here to discuss the situation, and Roush demurred: "I hear Toyota goes with Kevin Harvick, and there's not a Toyota in my future. What I do know, is Toyota just hired (engineer) John Propst from Ford, and that gives Toyota access to everything all the Ford teams have known about the engineering of the cars, and that's a cheeky move by Toyota, and it's certainly a coup for Toyota. The thing that is more distressing is Toyota is in position to make their own tires, with its relationship with Bridgestone….And I've heard Toyota has acquired 100 acres of land in Charlotte to put together a test track." Winston Salem Journal

04/09/06 When Red Bull Racing debuts their two Toyota teams at Daytona in February of 2007, rumor has it the organization is looking to pair a rookie with a veteran, taking an approached used by Evernham Motorsports with Dodge. Veterans on the Red Bull list are said to be Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett. No word on a rookie, but it could easily be an accomplished veteran from another of the Motorsports arenas. CircleTrackPlus

04/08/06 The new NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyota operation that is being backed by Red Bull "has opened the checkbook," according to one top Ford man, who points to Red Bull's hiring of John Propst, a top Ford Motor Company vehicle dynamics specialist, and the hiring of a top Dodge engineer from the Ray Evernham camp for its new stock-car racing team. General Motors executives are anxiously watching their own key engineers for any similar defections. Elsewhere on the Toyota-NASCAR front, Toyota has made a bid to sign a two-year contract with Dale Jarrett, the tour's 1999 champion and a three-time Daytona 500 winner. Jarrett's contract with car owner Robert Yates is up at the end of this season. While it has been unclear for several months if Yates and Jarrett could come to new terms, Ford officials said Yates is offering Jarrett a contract similar to the Toyota deal. Winston Salem Journal

03/25/06 Dale Jarrett reaffirmed his plan to race through the 2008 season but revealed there's a chance he could finish his NASCAR career outside Robert Yates Racing. "Some of the other offers coming my way have kind of a two-year deal, so that's when I started looking at (2008)," said Jarrett, whose contract is up at the end of the season with Yates, his home since 1995. "I think the high probability is that I'll be right where I'm at." The 1999 champion hopes to settle on his future by the end of May. USA Today

03/20/06 Robert Yates' racing program this season has gotten off to a surprisingly weak start, in comparison with Ford teammate owner Jack Roush. That is raising rumors with the season less than two months old. Dale Jarrett, in the last year of his contract with Yates, may soon become the topic of the speculation, particularly if Toyota – which is wooing Bill Elliott – takes a gander. Jarrett, 49, says he wants to drive at least one more year with Yates. Jarrett, the 1999 Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner, is considered one of this sport's consummate spokesmen. Winston Salem-Journal

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