NASCAR & Auto Racing

Yates' retirement announcement catches Champ Car group by surprise

The announcement last weekend that Robert Yates is planning to retire at the end of this season and turn over his NASCAR Nextel Cup team to his son, Doug, put an abrupt end to the agreement revealed in July at Indianapolis between the elder Yates and Champ Car’s Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

In the wake of the most recent development, the Champ Car team released a statement saying Yates’ move was unexpected.

“Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, LLC was excited about its future plans with Robert Yates Racing and were quite surprised by the announcement of Robert Yates’ retirement from racing and handing the team over to his son Doug,” the statement said.

“We wish Robert the very best in his retirement. At this time we are continuing to explore several exciting opportunities for the 2008 NASCAR season.”

The Yates team, once a NASCAR powerhouse, has struggled in recent years and was expected to get considerable engineering and marketing help from Newman/Haas/Lanigan, a top team in open-wheel racing since 1983.