First Dale Jarrett
In mid-2006 Dale Jarrett announced that he was leaving Robert Yates Racing at the end of the 2006 season to join the new Toyota Motorsports team owned by Michael Waltrip.
Even more painful for RYR is that Jarrett's primary sponsor UPS has announced that they will be following Jarrett to his new team. This leaves Robert Yates scrambling for both a new driver and a new sponsor for his #88 team.
Then Elliott Sadler
Yates was still reeling from that blow when their other driver, Elliott Sadler, announced that he also was leaving the team at the end of the 2006 season.
Sadler hasn't yet announced his new 2007 team but the leading rumor has him moving to the #19 Ray Evernham Dodge and taking his sponsor M&Ms with him.
Not So Very Long Ago
Don't forget that this team was on top of the world in 1999 when Dale Jarrett won the Championship.
Now Jarrett hasn't finished better than fifteenth in points since 2002 and has only posted two wins in that same time frame. Jarrett clearly needed a change of scenery.
Elliott Sadler joined Robert Yates Racing in 2003 and peaked in 2004 when he scored two wins. Sadler ended up ninth in points that year.
Since then Sadler missed The Chase in 2005 and is certain to miss it again in 2006. Sadler has not won a race since California Speedway in 2004.
2007 Looks Grim For Robert Yates Racing
This leaves Robert Yates Racing in a jam for the 2007 season. Both of Yates' premier drivers are gone. It also seems likely that both of Yates' primary sponsors are gone. This is a NASCAR team that is truly starting over from scratch.
There is currently a shortage of quality drivers. There is also a serious shortage of sponsors willing to shell out the kind of money necessary to support a top-tier team.
These facts add up to one long road ahead for the formerly great Robert Yates Racing.