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1997 Past News, Rumors, Testing, Paint Schemes

Updated 5-28-1999


Irvan-Simo Racing: From RacingPR and Lynne "Snoop's" Hunting, the same folks who bring us the WRL Vote: "Lee Morse, already the President of Irvan-Simo Racing, has a new hat to wear now also. He is running Signature Engines, the new in-house engine program for the Irvan-Simo NASCAR Craftsman Truck team. The Ford truck team owned by Ernie Irvan and Mark Simo fields Boris Said in the Truck series, and have gone in on the new engine program with Dale Phelon's Truck team which has Bryan Reffner returning as driver. Both teams experienced frustrations with their respective engines this past season and are taking this step in hopes of remedying the situation. Signature will be housed in Mooresville, in the same complex as the Irvan-Simo team. Another change for the Irvan-Simo team will be the addition of Doug Louth as in-house chassis engineer. Louth had been with Ford SVO before leaving to work with Roush Racing."(RacingPR)(12-16-97)

Ernie news from Atlanta from the AP
Swervin' Irvan a Little Too Fast in His Last Race for Yates

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- "Ernie Irvan finished up his career with Robert Yates Racing by going too fast for his own good. Irvan's No. 28 Ford Thunderbird struggled to a 12th-place finish Sunday in the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after receiving back-to-back penalties for exceeding the 45-mph speed limit on pit road. "I didn't do it on purpose, but I was speeding," said Irvan, who next year will join the No. 36 team owned by Nelson Bowers. "I just misread the (tachometer) as far as far as pit road speed. It's a shame, because we had a great race car." He was called into the pits for a stop-and-go penalty after the first infraction, only to be caught again when he tried to make a quick getaway. He had to return to the pits for another stop-and-go, knocking him out of contention. "We were about the third- or fourth-fastest car on the race track," Irvan said. "It was just a mental mistake, and that can't happen." Irvan joined Yates in 1993 after Davey Allison was killed in a helicopter crash and was contending for the Winston Cup championship the following year when a devastating practice wreck at Michigan nearly cost him his life. Irvan recovered from his injuries and returned near the end of the '95 season, but didn't have the same success. He won only three races over the past two years, and Yates decided to hire truck racing phenom Kenny Irwin Jr. for the 1998 season. Irwin raced Sunday in a third car fielded by Yates, finishing 25th in the No. 27 Ford Thunderbird."

Check out the cool story at iRace about Ernie: Irvan Soldiers On, Despite Lame-Duck Status, (9-16-97)(link updated)

It's official: Ernie Irvan has signed a two-year deal to drive the #36 Skittles Pontiac. He chose this ride over the #23 Ford because he was only offered a one-year deal. It's one of my favorite candies, so that's fine with me. I will continue with the Ernie page but no Yates, Texaco or (yikes) Kenny pages(8-27-97)

Another story about Ernie: A man without a team


Ernie at the Winston West Las Vegas race:

Ernie race in the Winston West race in Las Vegas on Saturday, November 8, 1997. He ran the #39 MB2 owned Pontiac(his 1998 team) so he could get some seat time at Las Vegas for the March 1, 1998 Vegas WC race and to get familiar with his new team. Ernie started 3rd, never led a lap and lost an engine on lap 66. Ernie finished 29th and won $2,400. The race is supposed to be televised by TNN on a tape delayed basis, but I have no idea when that is. I will post it when I find out. The Winston West Las Vegas story: Las Vegas Review-Journal. Results can be found at: Nando Net from the AP.(11-9-97)

I hear the Irvan-Simo truck team will definitely be Ford next year and they are looking at engine options as the team will not run Yates motors in 1998.(9-18-97)

    Ernie Irvan will be in the #39 Pedigree Pontiac at the Winston West race in Las Vegas. The car will be yellow with white numbers, Pedigree on the hood and TV Panel and Petco on the Rear Quarter panels and rear decklid(11-2-97), the entry list has Irvan in the #39 Skittles Pontiac(LVMS Page)(11-4-97)

    I hear the JournalNow reported that Ernie Irvan's first ride in the #36 will be in a Winston West race November 8th in Las Vegas, still looking for TV info.(10-14-97)

    I went to Talladega which was great, a little hot but a blast. I shook Ernie's hand but didn't get a chance to talk to him much. I got many pictures of him. It was great to see Ernie win the pole and do so well in the race. He is now eligible for the Winston No-Bull Million at Daytona, now all he has to do is win! Billy Standridge did well with the Jayski name on the rear deck until his spin. He is one of the nicest person's I have met(10-13-97)

    Dale Jarrett's take on the EI/RYR situation as well as his own:

    Question: How do you feel about your teammate, Ernie Irvan, not returning to the team next year? Who would you like to see replace his vacated spot?

    Answer: It was a shock to me. I really thought Robert and Ernie were working things out to extend their contract. From my perspective, I thought Ernie was a perfect teammate. I think we had a good relationship. We're good friends and I thought we learned a lot while we had this teammate situation at Robert Yates racing. I don't know who's going to replace him. I'll vote for my son Jason to get the ride.

    Q: How long do you plan to stay with Robert Yates Racing?

    A: Robert and I have an agreement through the year 2000, and I look to stay there even longer than that. I look forward to working for and with an owner who is heavily involved with his race team day to day. I'd like nothing better than to possibly finish my career at Robert Yates racing, driving a Ford(7-18-97 from ESPN)

    The Detroit FreePress has a story about Ernie on June 14th, see theIrvan Story

    It's official: Ernie Irvan has signed a two-year deal to drive the #36 Skittles Pontiac. He chose this ride over the #23 Ford because he was only offered a one-year deal. Now I have to get to work on getting Skittles graphics. It's one of my favorite candies, so that's fine with me(8-27-97)

    Ernie says this on RevSpeedWay: "I'm making progress on my contract for next year and I should be able to let everyone know something maybe even as early as the end of this week"

    Robert Yates dropped the bomb on July 7, 1997, and told the team that he would not re-sign Ernie for the 1998 season. Ernie's comments include:
    "I will announce my plans for 1998 and beyond in the near future," said Irvan, who vowed he would continue to strive to win races. "The members of the Texaco/Havoline team, both at the track and in the shop, work diligently to provide me with the best possible equipment each week. My pledge to them is to continue to race as hard as possible for the remainder of the season, to secure as many victories and as high a finish in the Winston Cup point standings as we can.", he continued, "I want to thank Texaco, Ford, Raybestos, Mac Tools and especially my FANS for their support during the good times, and the bad, over the past four years. I hope that you will continue to support me during the future."

    Robert Yates announced his new driver for the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford, today in Indianapolis. Yates plans on having Irwin do a lot of testing and will have him run in a limited race schedule this season. As for Texaco, Chuck Cossage, Vice President of Worldwide Advertising for Texaco said he was extremely optimistic about the new combination(8-1-97)

    DON'T BE BUMMED OUT!! Remember where Ernie was on August 20, 1994? Near death! So what if he got let go at Yates! He will still be out there racing in 1998! Something we never thought would happen only a few short years ago. Some lucky car owner will reap the rewards. I hope he finds a team soon and leaves so he can get kicked started for 1998, like he did when he left the #4 car for the #28. He was on the championship hunt in 1994. So keep the faith!!

    Ernie Irvan as rumored is expected to be named the new driver of the #36 Skittles Pontiac at Darlington this weekend, I hear he has already signed(8-25-97)

    From the JournalNow:"Irvan has turned down offers from car owners Andy Petree and Travis Carter in the past few days, and he is now expected to sign with the Jay Frye-Ryan Pemberton (#36 Skittles) Pontiac team for next season, according to sources close to Irvan and the team. But Irvan yesterday said he still hasn't made up his mind" Irvan told Carter he needed more time, but Carter had to know by 8-20 and Irvan told Petree he wasn't going to be able to do his deal. "Petree said he wasn't very happy about the Irvan situation, particularly when he learned that Irvan was trying to make a separate deal with the company Petree has been trying to sign as sponsor for his second team"(JournalNow)(8-23-97)

    I hear Ernie Irvan will drive a second Petree Chevy with Skoal as the sponsor and Budweiser going to the #33 and back to Kenny Schrader(8-20-97)

    I hear Ernie Irvan is in the running for the #23 Travis Carter Ford ride again, good source, but I thought Spencer just re-signed??(8-13-97)

    Let's figure this out: Ernie has now been rumored to: #3, #4(& a second team car-doubtful), #6(early 1997), #14, #15, #23, #28(stay in or part of a three car team), #29(and a second team car), #36, #37(second team), #40, #41(second team car), #43, plus the new DrJ team so far in 1997 for 1998, YIKES, that's a lot of rumors for one driver, ya know what, I don't have a clue where he might go(8-13-97)

    I have reported on this in the past: Ernie Irvan will drive a second truck team(his own) at Richmond and Martinsville. He will be in a #28 Ford, with Federated Auto Parts and 1-800-COLLECT as the sponsor also, same as the #44 driven by Boris Said. He tested at Richmond on Monday(8-12-97)

    I hear Ernie Irvan will sign a deal with #41 Kodiak Chevy Owner Larry Hedrick to drive a second car for him in 1998??(8-5-97)

    The rumors that Ernie Irvan will end up with the Washington-Erving Motorsports team keep getting stronger, should hear something within the next two weeks or so(7-30-97)

    iRACE reports that it will be Ernie Irvan who will drive for the new Washington Erving team in 1998(7-29-97)

    Robert Yates announced his new driver for the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford, today in Indianapolis. Yates plans on having Irwin do a lot of testing and will have him run in a limited race schedule this season. As for Texaco, Chuck Cossage, Vice President of Worldwide Advertising for Texaco said he was extremely optimistic about the new combination. Sounds like Texaco will be back in 1998, so forget the Wheaties rumor to the #28(8-1-97)

    Ernie Irvan is still looking for a new ride, and is looking to have everything in place the next couple of weeks(8-1-97)

    The rumors that Ernie Irvan will end up with the Washington-Erving Motorsports team keep getting stronger, should hear something within the next two weeks or so(7-30-97)

    Check out this unflattering story by Al Pearce(haven't found an email address yet) and found on the Newport News Daily Press(and days later in Autoweek) page a few days ago by a few readers: 'Changed Irvan Responsible for team split(written by Al Pearce)-Published on 07/11/97. "We may never find the smoking gun that convinced Robert Yates to dump Ernie Irvan after this season of Winston Cup racing. Things like that are oft-times swept under the rug, there to remain for all time. But you can bet the farm that the decision not to renew Irvan's contract has less to do with Ernie Irvan the Racing Driver than with Ernie Irvan the Public Figure", The complete article was typed in and sent to me, so I put it on it's own page. Remember I did NOT write this, I am relaying the info to you, see the whole story at The Irvan Story. While it may or may not be true, I don't think this guy had to write such a negative story about Ernie, but we must take the good with the bad(7-13/14-97)

    iRACE reports that it will be Ernie Irvan who will drive for the new Washington Erving team in 1998(7-29-97)

    Ernie Irvan's future is a hot topic in the garage. He is considering a ride next season with the NWO Busch team that is preparing to step up to the Cup tour, according to some NASCAR sources. Even though the team is apparently willing to pay a sizable amount to land a top driver -- anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million, according to sources close to the situation -- that team probably wouldn't be competitive for a while. Irvan is also being mentioned as a candidate for a second Michael Kranefuss team. Several Ford men say they expect Irvan to wind up driving for the Julius Erving team(JournalNow 7-19-97)

    This is a piece of a story found at the Newport News Daily Press page a few days ago by a few readers: Changed Irvan Responsible for team split(written by Al Pearce)-Published on 07/11/97. "We may never find the smoking gun that convinced Robert Yates to dump Ernie Irvan after this season of Winston Cup racing. Things like that are oft-times swept under the rug, there to remain for all time. But you can bet the farm that the decision not to renew Irvan's contract has less to do with Ernie Irvan the Racing Driver than with Ernie Irvan the Public Figure", The complete article was typed in and sent to me, so I put it on it's own page. Remember I did NOT write this, I am relaying the info to you, see the whole story at The Irvan Story(7-13/14-97)

    Will Irvan last the season?(with RYR) Robert Yates has said there is a possibility of playing musical chairs before the season is over. If Irvan can find another ride before the season is over, it's possible somebody else like rookie driver Kenny Irwin, Jr. could be in his car before the season is over. Meanwhile, after Irvan's impressive run Sunday before a sour engine, Irvan's stock might just go up. Andy Petree says he'd like to hire Irvan to run for a second team of his, if he can land a new sponsor. Irvan spent three hours looking at Petree's racing operation last week(Speedworld/JournalNow)(7-14-97)

    Rumor: Last week Ernie Irvan called Felix Sabates(40) and Michael Kranefuss (37)...neither were interested(7-13-97)

    As I reported before anyone else and to my dismay:
    Robert Yates dropped the bomb yesterday(7-7) and told the team that he would not re-sign Ernie for the 1998 season. Ernie will finish the 1997 season in the #28 Texaco Ford. This is OFFICIAL! Ernie's comments include:
    "I will announce my plans for 1998 and beyond in the near future," said Irvan, who vowed he would continue to strive to win races. "The members of the Texaco/Havoline team, both at the track and in the shop, work diligently to provide me with the best possible equipment each week. My pledge to them is to continue to race as hard as possible for the remainder of the season, to secure as many victories and as high a finish in the Winston Cup point standings as we can.", he continued, "I want to thank Texaco, Ford, Raybestos, Mac Tools and especially my FANS for their support during the good times, and the bad, over the past four years. I hope that you will continue to support me during the future."(7-8-97)


    More Ernie news from the JournalNow: While the rumors being to swirl about possible replacements for Irvan, he has been approached by several teams (mostly Chevy) that are intrested in him. Rumors to replace him still include, Sterling Marling who has reportedly (Journal Now) been calling Yates at home. Terry Labonte who is winless so far this year. Rumored teams that Irvan could be involved with are the new Washington-Irving team, and Hendrick, Yes Rick. Officials for Hendrick reportedly told Irvan not to make a final decision without talking to them first(7-10-97)

    RPM2Nite reports (surprise!) that Kenny Irwin, Jr will take over the #28 Robert Yates Ford ride in 1998 and will run 5 races in 1997 in a Yates car(7-9-97)

    Rumors of where Ernie Irvan may go include a second Diamond Ridge team(#29), Dale Earnhardt's #14 Burger King car, a return to the #4(doubtful), other speculations by me also include the fourth Roush team and the DrJ team(7-8-97)

    Rumors of replacements in the #28 for Ernie Irvan include Kenny Irwin. Jr., Johnny Benson, Jr., Ward Burton, both Labontes, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton(see above)(7-8-97)

    I hear from a good source that Kenny Irwin Jr is going to replace Ernie Irvan in the #28 Texaco Thunderbird in 1998. It is supposed to be hush-hush and nothing can be announced at this time from what I am told(7-5-97)

    So much for the Ernie Irvan rumors being put to rest:
    Robert Yates said yesterday he still hasn't signed Ernie Irvan to a new contract, and yesterday Yates again indicated he might make a driver change for 1998. That comes three weeks after Irvan, on the eve of his win at Michigan, said he and Yates had agreed to team again. Yates said he had signed a new contract with Texaco, and that now the issue was up to him alone to decide, whether or not he wants to keep Irvan in the seat. Yates would seem to be reviving the possibility that Sterling Marlin might get the ride. Marlin has been pushing Yates hard to snare the ride, according to team sources. If Marlin does leave Larry McClure, then Bobby Hamilton would be the top choice for McClure's Chevy. That would leave Richard Petty looking for a new driver(compiled from many JournalNow stories 7-4-97)

    Per a NASCAR Online Story: It seems the rumor that Ernie Irvan and Robert Yates have signed any sort of contract is not true. The story on NASCAR Online says Robert Yates plans to take his time in making the decision on who will drive his #28 Ford in 1998. This is the final year of Ernie Irvan's contract with Yates and it's also the last season on the sponsorship deal with Texaco Havoline. Rumors have been circulating all year about this season being Irvan's final one with Yates. Even Irvan's emotional victory at Michigan in June could not quiet the talk completely. See the story at NASCAR Online(7-1-97)

    Here is what I hear about the Ernie Irvan/Yates contract: That they have in fact signed the one year deal but Texaco is kicking up a fuss. Kenny Irwin Jr is rumored for either Ernie's ride or a third team with Yates. Texaco likes his progression (like Gordon's) through USAC and want him in their future. Jayski note: Plus Irwin's sponsor on the truck series is Raybestos, who is an associate sponsor on the #28(6-30-97)

    I keep hearing (from a well placed source) that Kenny Irwin Jr. is in line for a WC ride at Yates. Still waiting on the announcement about Ernie signing the contract that was so well rumored a few weeks ago(6-29-97)

    I hear driver Ernie Irvan and owner Robert Yates have signed the rumored contract, no idea of length or when they will officially announce it(6-21-97)

    More news on the Ernie 'rumors' from the JournalNow: "Car owner Robert Yates says that the win should officially seal a new four-year contract with Irvan, after two months of debate about which way the team should go next season. ''I've been waiting on this, to see if we could win, if we could have a winning team. We wanted to prove we could do it without Larry (McReynolds),'' Yates said. ''This takes a great big load off my back. Ernie proved we could win. Now we feel we have a winning team, so we'll sit down and see if we can work something out. We've got a four-year contract working."(6-16-97)

    Per the JournalNow: Ernie Irvan confirmed yesterday(6-14) that he and Robert Yates have indeed agreed to team again next season, ending speculation that they might split(6-15-97) YES!! Now Ernie can go out and win today at Michigan and forget all these stupid rumors I have heard!!

    All those rumors below and on my other pages concerning Ernie Irvan, well...Forget them!(except the rumors that Ernie was staying with the #28, because they were right). The JournalNow reports: "Ernie Irvan confirmed yesterday that he and Robert Yates have indeed agreed to team again next season, ending speculation that they might split". No news on the term of contract or sponsorship, so until it is officially announced I guess the speculation will continue on those fronts. But....None of the pre-race shows(RPM2Day, Raceday, Inside NASCAR, NASCAR2Day) mentioned it at all and CBS said Yates dispelled the rumors to some degree but that is all they said, maybe the win will quiet things down(6-15-97)

    From the JournalNow: "Robert Yates and Ernie Irvan have been debating their future together for several weeks now, and yesterday sources in Detroit indicated that the two men had either signed a new contract or were ready to sign a new contract, which would end the intense speculation that Yates was looking for another driver. Chevy's Terry Labonte was the most recent name rumored to be on Yates' list. But Yates said last night that he had not re-signed Irvan." Here is a wild rumor about Ernie from trackside at Michigan that a source heard the scenario goes like this Ernie from the 28 to the 22, Ward from the 22 to the 6, and Martin from the 6 to the 28. The explanation was Mark is dissatisfied with the 6 and feels that the 99 is getting all the attention, And Texaco wants Irvan out of the 28 or they won't be re-upping their sponsorship of the 28 car(my source and I both doubt this rumor will happen). Another rumor still has Marlin to the #28 and Irvan to the #4 or #29(6-14-97)

    From the NASCAR Fans Site Newsletter: Ernie Irvan will more than likely be re-signed to a one year deal. This on the heels of Robert Yates not being able to find a replacement driver that is not under contract. This will more than likely be done unless there is a driver that suddenly comes free(6-12-97)

    Per a reader: Nashville Nascar talk radio host Norm Parton of WWTN 99.7 FM was on a roll tonight as usual. He says Yates has completed his interviews with four drivers all of which are currently driving GM and three have turned him down (Marlin included) The only one left is Johnny Benson. Parton says Yates has been advised by his lawyers to not go after any driver signed long term and have prepared a one year contract to give to Ernie. He says one or the other will happen very quickly. He also says the only viable option Ernie has besides the one year deal with Yates is the Diamond Ridge offer as lead driver in a two car stable for 98-99(6-11-97)

    Another unlikely rumor has Junior Johnson putting Ernie Irvan in a Chevy in 1998, while another rumor has Ernie already signing a 5 year deal with Texaco and RYR, but I fired off an email to Texaco and here is their response: The Texaco Response to Jayski's email(6-2-97)

    Overheard at a Coca Cola 600 hospitality tent: while there was listening and talking with the Texaco tent guys and they were all saying that Ernie was out, not sure if they were talking the end of the season or sooner??(5-28-97)

    I hear that Diamond Ridge(#29) will have a two car WC team in 1998 with Jeff Green and Ernie Irvan?(5-23-97)

    The Journal Now, Irvan Story reports that driver swap "scenario could go like this: Marlin into Yates' Fords, Irvan into Bechtel's Chevrolets, and Bobby Hamilton into Larry McClure's Chevrolets, replacing Marlin." I continue to hear Texaco is gone from Yates and will go with the new Dr. J team with a General Mills Sponsor signing on with Yates(5-22-97)

    From the NASCAR Fans Site Newsletter: heard a lot of RUMORS that Ernie Irvan in 2 weeks will be with the #40 Coors Team. There seem to be a lot of speculation that Robby Gordon will not return from Indy. Only time will tell(5-20-97)

    I've heard that if Texaco leaves Robert Yates, that either Coca-Cola will become the sponsor and if Coke doesn't sign on, or that Browning Guns might become sponsor(5-20-97)

    Hmmm...now I hear Texaco may leave Yates racing and Ernie will stay? What's next Yates switching to a chevy??(5-19-97)

    Rumor still has it that Sterling Marlin will take over the #28 in 1998 and Ernie Irvan will go to the #29 car(5-18-97)

    Ernie Irvan will drive James Finch's #4 BGN Chevy at Charlotte 5-24-97(5-15-97)

    Latest wild rumor: Rumors galore in Columbia, TN, home of Sterling Marlin. Eddie Lovett, owner of Casual Expressions, has marked all Sterling and Ernie merchandise half off. Rumors have Sterling gone by the Coca-Cola 600. Also rumored that the 29 car owner has offered to buy out any contracts that would allow a driver to take the 28 car, so Ernie can take the 29 seat.(5-16-97)

    I hear Sterling Marlin has denied that he is going to replace Ernie Irvan in the #28 ride or leave the Morgan-McClure team(5-8-97)

    I still hear that if Ernie leaves the #28 after this season, Sterling Marlin will replace him? I also hear Marlin would be reunited with Tony Glover(Glover to Ford?). Rumors have Ernie either staying in the #28 or going to the #14, #29 or #15(5-5-97)


    Ernie Irvan is not leaving the #28 Texaco Ford Thunderbird! I had a nice talk with his Mom, Jo Irvan, today about the rumors that were posted to this page and my Ernie Irvan page. Mrs. Irvan has talked to Ernie and Robert Yates and Ernie will be in the #28 through 1997 and they are working on a new four year contract(4-21-97)


    Ernie Irvan says he expects to sign a new contract with Yates within the next couple of weeks and dismisses speculation that Felix Sabates tried to offer Yates Robby Gordon for him.(4-27-97)

    Per the Nashville Tennesseean: "Marlin's team: No change on the Horizon", a story faxed to me denies rumors that Sterling Marlin will replace Ernie Irvan in the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford and that Irvan has no plans to drive for anyone else next season. Robert Yates says he plans on honoring the present contract and prefers to renew contracts before their final season but wasn't happy with the direction of the team last year and wants to see what this year(1997) will bring. Marlin is in the first year of a five year contract and his owner, Larry McClure, expects Marlin to honor the contract but adds "You Never Know".(4-23-97)

    Heard that Texaco officials were at Robert Yates' shop last Monday(4-21-97) and issued an ultimatum to Robert and/or Ernie. One more screwup and he is gone! They were very upset over his and his wife's brawl on Easter Eve. That was the second of three strikes...don't know what the first one was.

    A few collectors have told me "that per RCCA we were told its a rock solid done deal that Ernie will not return next to Robert Yates Racing next year. No word as to where Ernie's off to, hmmm(4-25-97)

    Someone who has a friend who has an Ernie Irvan/Texaco souvenir trailer was requested by RYR to order $60,000 worth of merchandise. Seems like a good sign that Ernie will be there through 1997 at least(4-25-97)

    Per RPM2Nite: They did an interview with Robert Yates and he said the Irvan was HIS driver. Benny Parsons added in after the interview and told John Kernen that one reason Yates has not resigned Irvan is that he wants to get the team to a level that would make Irvan WANT to resign with the #28, but as far as he (Yates) knows, and also as far as Irvan knows, Ernie is not leaving(4-21-97)

    Hmmm...Now the JournalNow reports that if Yates does not resign Irvan then Chevy wants to snap him up and that Diamond Ridge is a possibility(4-21-97)

    Robert Yates says he wants to re-sign Irvan per a story in Winston-Salem Journel Online by Mike Mulhern. The story starts out: Car owner Robert Yates and driver Ernie Irvan have been discussing their future together, while the rumors fly around the garage. Irvan's four-year contract with Yates is up at the end of this season, and Yates said he's heard all the rumors about who might be in his car next season -- Sterling Marlin, Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine. But there is no truth to any of it, Yates said. Not yet, at least. - To read the rest of the very long but excellent story go to the Journal Now - Yates and there is a second story at Richmond Times-Dispatch(4-19-97)

    OK Folks, I've been holding off on this one but here it is: I hear from very reliable sources that Ernie Irvan will be out of the #28 after Martinsville. I understand he will finish the season in the #15 Bud Moore/KC Spurlock Ford then......in 1998 he will be in the Dale Earnhardt #14 Chevy Monte Carlo with a yet unnamed but big buck sponsor. I know Ernie and Robert Yates have a meeting with Texaco next week, what happens there, who knows? Replacements for Irvan? Names I have heard include: Hamilton, Benson, W Burton, Marlin(thought he was signed thru 1999) and Martin(but he just reupped with Roush & Valvoline and is very close to Irvan). WOW, when I started this page I expected Winter and Spring to be down times, slow in the news, this has been busier then the Fall. Well, next week we should see how all this shakes out(4-18-97)


    I hear from another source that Ernie, Robert Yates and Texaco will sign a two year extension soon, I don't know what to think, but most signs point to EI leaving Yates(4-18-97)

    The #28 Texaco Thunderbird RYR team has released the spotter who accepted blame for the Ernie Irvan/Greg Sacks/Jeff Gordon accident where the #28 car was racing back to the line with leader Terry Labonte after the yellow was thrown and ran into the back of Sacks. A new spotter was at Bristol(4-12-97). NEW: From The Winston Cup Scene - Butch Stevens, former Bill Elliott crew member signed a three race(Bristol, Martinsville and Talladega) deal as spotter for the #28 RYR Ford. He will serve as spotter and coach regular spotter Tim Pope. Obviously Pope was not released as I reported last week(4-18-97)

    The Ernie Irvan fanclub was contacted(not me) and they say Ernie is staying with Yates and not going anywhere(4-17-97). Most sources say Ernie will be in the #28 through 1997 but be replaced/leave for the 1998 season. Supposedly Mark Martin turned down the ride before he signed up for three more years at Roush. Other names mentioned as a replacement: Jimmy Spencer, Todd Bodine, Robby Gordon and Johnny Benson(4-17-97). This is crazy....

    I have heard from many sources that Ernie Irvan's ride is in serious jeopardy in the #28 Texaco Ford T-Bird owned by Yates. I have heard changes could be made anywhere from within the next two weeks to the end of the season. But most rumors have him lasting the season (as most of you know, I am an Ernie fan and really hope this does not happen, but I report what I hear)(4-14-97)


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