By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
When Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes to the track at Phoenix Raceway this weekend, he will be driving a very special car. The Roush Fenway Racing team will pay tribute to their longtime competitor, engine partner, and 2018 NASCAR Hall of Famer Robert Yates. The paint scheme echoes the one used by Davey Allison when he won at Phoenix in 1991 and 1992 while driving for Yates.
Yates passed away in October after a lengthy battle with Liver Cancer. Earlier this year in May, he was selected to enter the Hall of Fame in 2018. As a team owner, Yates earned one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship (Then Winston Cup) in 2000 with Dale Jarrett behind the wheel. His cars also earned 57 victories, 48 pole positions, 269 top-fives, and 427 top-10s during his tenure as team owner.
Roush Fenway Racing team owner Jack Roush spoke highly of Yates,
“The entire NASCAR Community has lost a pillar of our sport with the passing of Robert Yates. Robert was true to all he held dear – a fierce competitor, a dedicated and inspired leader and a passionate family man. For me he was the type of competitor that brought out the best in everyone around him and he was a wonderful partner and friend. I am very fortunate to have been able to team up with, and learn from, Robert Yates.”
Robert’s son, Doug Yates took over ownership of Robert Yates Racing in 2008. Around the same time, he transitioned to become the President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines, a position he still holds today. Roush Yates Engines have powered nearly every Ford victory in NASCAR since 2006.
Doug Yates could not stop thanking Roush and Roush Fenway Racing,
“Our family would like to thank everyone at Roush Fenway Racing for the special paint scheme at Phoenix International Raceway to honor my dad Robert Yates and his legendary career in NASCAR.”
Stenhouse, who will drive the tribute car made the 2017 Playoffs after winning at Talladega and Daytona. However, he fell out of the Playoffs after the second round. Stenhouse is arguably having the best season of his young Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Stenhouse admitted that having Robert on the car was special,
“It’s really cool to be able to honor Robert with our car in Phoenix. He’s meant so much to NASCAR, and to have him ride along with us this weekend will be really special for everyone at the shop.”
Historically, Phoenix has not been one of Stenhouse’s better tracks. He has just one top-five finish in nine races at the 1-mile track. Nonetheless, Stenhouse and his Roush Fenway Racing team will look to play the role of Playoff Spoiler as they honor Robert Yates.