Doug Yates and his Roush Yates Engine team are celebrating a tremendous start to the 2015 motorsport season, helping power Ford to four wins at Daytona (IMSA, NASCAR Truck, NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Sprint Cup) over the last month. Yates spoke to Ford Performance about the stellar start to the year, his bittersweet feelings Sunday, where he was during the Daytona 500 celebration, and how engine builders are prepping for Atlanta and beyond.
DOUG YATES, CEO, Roush Yates Engines – THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME SINCE NASCAR STARTED RUNNING ALL THREE SERIES AT DAYTONA THAT A MANUFACTURER HAS SWEPT THE WEEKEND, AND IT HAPPENED WITH ROUSH YATES POWER UNDER THE HOOD. YOU MUST FEEL PROUD OF THAT. “I am super-proud to be a part of the Ford Performance family and to have the Ford group there with Edsel Ford and Raj Nair and Dave Pericak and everybody that is instrumental to making this happen – for those guys to be able to go to victory lane all three nights in all three series is really special. I am just proud to be a part of the family and represent Roush Yates.”
THROW IN THE WIN IN THE 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA AND YOU ARE 4-FOR-4 ALONG WITH FORD. “Yeah, Daytona has always been a special place for me and my family. Growing up and watching my dad build engines there and winning in 1982 with Bobby Allison in the 500 and then building Richard Petty’s 200th win engine at Daytona, the success we have enjoyed at Daytona is something that is really important to me personally. We worked really hard and things lined up and we have great teams across the board with Chip Ganassi over on the IMSA side and Brad Keselowski Racing in the Truck Series, obviously Jack Roush with the XFINITY Mustangs and Roger Penske’s teams on the Cup side. The support of Ford Motor Company is what makes it all come together. You go down there and work really hard and some years turn out better than others, but this year we were prepared. We did our homework and the results were just impressive.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR YOU TOWARD THE END OF THE DAYTONA 500 WHEN YOU SEE A FUSION WITH ONE OF YOUR ENGINES BATTLING FOR A WIN? “We are all competitors and we walk in the garage with intentions of winning the race and giving our teams a chance. I know all the behind the scenes work that went on and I want to talk especially about the XFINITY Series. We have never had a win in the XFINITY Series at Daytona before Saturday. That one there probably stood out as much as any of them. To watch the guys and to see them have a chance to win and to accomplish that is really awesome. In the XFINITY race with Jack’s cars, Brad Keselowski was leading and he got way out there and then here comes Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher, so we had lots of fast Fords and that is really what made it possible. We had a lot of guys that could win that race with Penske and Roush and RPM, they all had great cars. To finally see two of those guys finish 1-2 and to be in Victory Lane with Jack Roush was really special. He obviously is my partner and a mentor to me so that was really nice. Sunday was a little nerve-wracking. To win these races you really have to push the limit of these engines. The competition is super-strong and obviously we did that and got Joey Logano in a place where he could win and we had some issues with the other guys. That was a bittersweet victory but at the end of the day it is the Daytona 500 and that is a really special time for our company.”
YOU MENTIONED THE ISSUES WITH THE 2 AND 21. WHEN ISSUES START TO UNFOLD LIKE THAT, WHAT ARE YOU ABLE TO DO TO TEMPER ANY WORRY OF THE OTHER DRIVERS, AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE ISSUE WAS ON THOSE ENGINES YET? “Every car and every engine goes through little different circumstances in the race, especially when it comes to superspeedway racing. If you are out front leading, your temps are cooler than if you are in the back of the pack or pushing. Through the years we have seen that the parts look different after the event based on where you were at in the pack. That may have been part of it, but at the end of the day once we are in the race and we are competing you just have to go and do everything you can. There is no turning back at that point. That is what Joey did, and I think that is what Roger Penske told him. He said, ‘Look, you have got what you got so run it as hard as you can and let’s go win this thing.’ And that is exactly what they did.”
JOEY MENTIONED HE TRIED HIS BEST TO BLOW THAT ENGINE DURING THE BURNOUTS AND COULDN’T DO IT BUT YOU DIDN’T SEE ANY OF THAT. WHERE WERE YOU DURING VICTORY LANE? “Yeah, you know like I said it was a bit bittersweet and really my responsibility was to make sure that we get the answers to what happened to the 2 and the 21 engines and that is where my head was at then. I wanted to get those back here to the shop and get our game plan going and get our guys organized and make sure we understand what happened and start looking ahead. I am not always a big victory lane or picture guy anyway. I get the reward of the company being represented and when I got home and saw my family last night, that was like going to victory lane for me because they were really excited and happy for dad and our family. I got to do that and that was great. I really wanted to focus on the issues and making sure they don’t happen again and try to continue to push ahead.”
THIS WAS THE 100TH SPRINT CUP SERIES WIN FOR ROUSH YATES ENGINES. THAT HAS TO MAKE IT EVEN MORE SPECIAL. “Yeah, for that 100th victory to be the Daytona 500 it just doesn’t get any better than that. We have had a lot of success at Roush Yates and that is a result of Ford Motor Company being a great supporter of us and having great teams through the years. That is 100 Sprint Cup wins, including All-Star races and things like that, but that is a milestone for our company and something we are really proud of. This is our fourth Daytona 500 win and we are also really proud of that because that is our Super Bowl and we want to keep pushing ahead. Today is a great day and we are going to celebrate that.”
THE WORK MOVES TOWARD ATLANTA AND A NEW RULES PACKAGE THAT CERTAINLY EFFECTS WHAT YOU GUYS DO ON THE ENGINE SIDE. IS THIS WEEKEND A BIT OF A ‘HOLD YOUR BREATH’ WEEKEND FOR THE ENGINE BUILDERS? “This has been a really busy winter with NASCAR implementing tapered spacers for one and also going to a roller lifter design from a flat tappet and reducing 500 RPMs. Pretty much every component in the engine eventually is going to change because it is over designed for the less power. We have been moving as quickly as we can to optimize that engine and we will see this weekend at Atlanta how we did on our homework and we will get a good starting point and continue to work. We all saw last year that the key to winning the championship is winning Homestead and we have our sights on that and hopefully with one guy already locked into the Chase after race one, we are thinking about having the best package when we get down to Homestead. I think there is great anticipation of how we will stack up this weekend and everybody is feeling the same way right now. How aggressive are we or are we too conservative, or maybe are we too aggressive? We will know more after this weekend and I think Las Vegas will be the better indicator for performance. Atlanta is a lot about handling and tire fall off and we may even need some snow tires down there, who knows. We will be working and that will give us a good first point and then we will go on to Vegas and start evaluation of our program from there. I am really proud of the work we have done here at Roush Yates and I am proud of the contribution that Ford has made with the sport and their engineers working with our engineers and we will continue to push ahead and try to win some more races this year.”