Yates' billboards are canvases waiting for paint

David Gilliland's No. 38 Ford is one of Yates Racing cars that will race at Daytona. Owners are still trying to find sponsors.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Race cars are known as 200-mph billboards. Yates Racing has taken that to a new level during preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway.


Yates used both three-day sessions to make sponsorship pitches for the upcoming season. The team will have two cars in February's Daytona 500 -- Ford Nos. 28 and 38 -- and neither have a full-time sponsor.

The only decals on David Gilliland 's car this week read: "SponsorYates.com," a Web site team owners Doug Yates and Max Jones hope will draw the attention of a primary sponsor.

Yates bought the team from his father, Robert Yates . His father won 57 races and the 1999 championship with driver Dale Jarrett. The team has gone winless since 2005, which helped convince Robert Yates to retire two months ago. His son took over and created an alliance with Roush Fenway Racing. All that's left is finding sponsorship -- about $15 million for each team.

"We don't have any sponsors at the moment, but we're talking to a lot of people," Jones said. "We're not the first team to come to Daytona without sponsorship money. It's not like we've got a rag-tag group of guys that we drug down here to Daytona. We're not embarrassing ourselves."

Travis Kvapil , in the No. 28 Ford, was the third-fastest driver last week in single-car runs at 184.143. Gilliland, in the No. 38, was ninth-fastest in Monday's single-car runs at 183.835 mph.

"I'm sure everybody's a little bit stressed out about (not having a sponsor), but I feel if we go out and perform well, the rest will take care of itself," Gilliland said.

Yates said the real pressure is to find success on the track. If the team can, a sponsor will come.

"Really, at the end of the day, we need to go out and perform well and that's what people are looking for," he said. "They're looking to be part of something the can be proud of and get their employees energized about."

HAAS GOES TO PRISON: Owner Gene Haas , who owns Chevrolets driven by Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs , reported to federal prison Monday to start a two-year sentence for tax evasion.

Not only will Haas, 55, have to serve all two years, he was ordered to pay $75 million in restitution and fines. He will spend the next two years at a low-security prison near Lompoc, Calif.

RUSH HOUR: For nearly 60 years, some of the best mechanics in NASCAR have stayed away from Petty Enterprises because it was too far removed from Charlotte, N.C. The team's recent move to Mooresville, N.C., however, has created a backlog of applications.

Driver Bobby Labonte said it was tough for Richard Petty and Kyle Petty to move the family business closer to Ground Zero for NASCAR, but it's already paying some benefits.

"There are guys that wouldn't drive all the way to Level Cross to work," Labonte said of the location about 90 minutes from Charlotte.

"They would go somewhere else. So now you have people that will come to work because they can get there quicker. They have different ideas that helps us out. A little bit of that can get contagious and hopefully they will bring us up to speed. I think the move was inevitable."

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.



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