for loyalty or money?

Travis Kvapil and David GillilandBy virtue of being a woman I tend to lead with my heart. But I’m logical and intelligent and I understand cold hard facts. I know that money is usually the biggest deciding factor in the world of NASCAR race teams and in this economic climate it seems like it’s the only one.

Still, even with those hard truths, I can’t help but feel like there’s more at work with the lack of attention being paid to great drivers like David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil. These are guys that truly deserve more time to prove themselves on the racetrack. Gilliland finished 2nd at Infineon Raceway last year, the best race finish between the two Yates Racing drivers for the season.

So what does his effort get him? Only to be left without a ride and on contract with a company who has given the points he earned to the new guy, Bobby Labonte who hasn’t had a top-5 finish since 2006.

While Kvapil still has a ride for 2009 it doesn’t have a sponsor yet (although Golden Corral has signed on to sponsor him in the Daytona 500) and his points have been moved to Paul Menard. Menard has had only two top-10 finishes in his entire Sprint Cup career and Kvapil has had six.

That just doesn’t sit right with me. Frankly I’m pretty disgusted by it. I understand wanting and needing drivers that can succeed and rack up great finishes. I also understand wanting and needing drivers that are marketable. Both of those criteria are needed to secure sponsorships and I know that Gilliland and Kvapil are completely capable of both of those things.

I had the chance to interview them during the 2008 season and you’re not going to find more genuinely nice, honest and hardworking guys. They’re both well-spoken, good-looking guys with beautiful families. They also have the most important thing: the passion and drive to want to win races. They want to put in the work.

So why did Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard suddenly become the new fresh faces of Yates Racing? Because everybody knows who Bobby Labonte is and Paul Menard comes with a built-in sponsor.

I’m not saying that Yates Racing doesn’t value the talent they have in Travis and David. I don’t think they would have signed them on in the first place if they hadn’t. I just think it’s sad that they couldn’t have held on to what they’d accomplished, built on the team success they had from last year and figured out a way to stay loyal to drivers already in their stable.

It’s really sad when the choice of sponsorship over talent rules the day.


  1. February 3, 2009 at 8:16 PM ·

    Thanks again from all @ Gilly’s Gang ( AKA You rock !

  2. Yatesfan
    February 3, 2009 at 9:00 PM ·

    If it is in the best interest of Yates to give the 38 and 28 team points to the 96 and 98, is he wrong to do so. Should he worry more about the future of David and Travis or should he do what he believes is in his own best interest?

    Everything is about striving to better your situation and make more money. When David got the Yates ride he quit his Nationwide team (what was the lower level called back then?) with races remaining to move up to Yates at the end of the season. The team that put him in his car thus was forced to shut down. Did David owe them loyalty? Should he have turned down the chance to better his situation and somehow made it a priority to finish out the season out of loyalty or did he owe it to himself to do the right thing for his future?

    With Menard, Labonte and it’s looking like Kvapil, Yates is in a much better position this year. It looks like he won’t have to dig into his pocket to be at the race track this year. You talk about loyalty, I think he displayed it by running several unsponsored events last year.

  3. springermom
    February 3, 2009 at 9:20 PM ·

    Thank you Valli, for shouting this out loud and clear. It is sad to see this happening, and you are so correct that it is the money that is talking. All of us at Gilly’s Gang are grateful that you have taken the time to write about it.

  4. Faster87
    February 4, 2009 at 11:21 AM ·

    You have a great point and I appreciate your efforts in keeping these guys in the media…And Yatesfan also makes a good point. Clay Andrews racing was devastated when DG left but I never held that against DG. Just don’t know what to think anymore, just hoping and praying that DG will end up in an even better situation somehow. I’ll bet he gets a ride for Sonoma this year though.

  5. Fusion
    February 4, 2009 at 12:32 PM ·

    I personally think the both of these guys got screwed. I can understand the sponsership situation to a degree; however, how is it that other drivers with worse performance have been able to secure sponsership? Maybe Yates needs to look at their marketing program…Something is wrong with this picture.

    It will be interesting to see how LaBonte and Menard perform at Yates, especially after all of the ground work has been laid by Travis and David to revive their ailing business.

  6. February 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM ·

    I agree with you it is disappointing. I am torn. I LOVE Kvapil -I think he is very talented.

    That being said I love Bobby LaBonte too. I have been a fan of his for a long time.

    Who I don’t understand the fascination with is Menard. I am gonna be a little harsh hear and just say how I feel- the guy is a doofus and I really think that the only reason he is still around is because he comes with a built in sponsor. I have to say it.

    That being said I don’t understand the points swapping game anyway…