Doug Yates: “We’ve Got a Lot of Work Ahead”

Doug Yates: “We’ve Got a Lot of Work Ahead”

by September 24, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Power has been a major buzzword circulating within Sprint Cup circles since yesterday as NASCAR unveiled the series’ 2015 race package on Tuesday afternoon.

Engine builders have been put on notice of the massive revisions that will be required to be made to their engine programs; changes including the addition of a tapered spacer that will decrease horsepower by 125, the addition of roller valve lifters, lower rear differential gear ratios, and a 38-inch wide radiator pan.

For Doug Yates, co-owner of Roush-Yates Engines, Tuesday’s announcement means that him and his organization that provides engines to Roush-Fenway Racing, Team Penske, and Richard Petty Motorsports (amongst others) have their work cut out for them to make these adjustments to their product.

“I think we’ve got a lot of work ahead,” Yates said. “The engine configuration as we know it is going to change considerably and what that means is a different camshaft. They’re going from flat tappet to roller lifter, which is a step in the right direction for longevity, but as far as the cam design, the cylinder head, intake manifold and exhaust system – all of those things that are related to airflow – is going to have to be developed and tested over the winter to have a package that’s ready to go race next March in Atlanta.

“At the same time, they’re reducing the horsepower target 125 and they’re also reducing the RPM from 9,500 today to 9,000 RPM going forward, so there are a lot of changes and a lot of work ahead.”

NASCAR’s new engine changes will make their debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March as NASCAR have chosen to not tinker with the engine package required to run at Daytona or Talladega.

Even with an extra week provided to the teams to prepare their non-restrictor plate engine package, Yates feels that there isn’t enough time to be fully prepared for the new engine’s official debut four-and-a-half months from now.

“There’s never enough time [to be ready] and we would work as hard as possible no matter when they told us,” said Yates. “So I think NASCAR is doing a better job of getting the rules out. They targeted September and we’re here, and now it’s time to go to work.

“At the end of the day, no matter what the target power level is, it’s our job to find an advantage and make more power than the next guy and the next organization. That’s the challenge ahead and we’re excited about it.”

As Yates would note, just because NASCAR has set a horsepower target of 725 units does not mean that teams have to hit that number right on the nose. Advantages of just five horsepower could be key to having Roush-Yates’ customers dominate the 2015 season.

“… This isn’t a horsepower-regulated series,” he continued. “I think most people know that, but they don’t test the engines to make sure they make a certain amount of power. The engine shops are free to work on those engines and if you get an advantage, you get to keep that advantage. I think that’s something that may sound a little obvious, but it has come up and we need to make sure that’s understood by the fans.”

The lack (for now) of preseason testing is also a bit of a concern for the championship-winning engine builder.

NASCAR have yet to announce if they will have any track tests for the 2015 engine prior to next year’s Atlanta race. With the elimination of private team testing, the only on-track tests for the engine builders of the sport will come from either Goodyear tire tests or NASCAR-mandated tests.

“I’m not sure how I feel about not testing because we have an aerodynamic change and a power change,” he said. “The way that we achieve the RPM targets is through a gear ratio, so selecting that gear ratio is going to be a bit of a calculation going forward as we go to these race tracks as opposed to testing at the track and seeing exactly what you need.

“So I have some reservations about that, but we’ll just have to work together with NASCAR.”

Despite his reservations, Yates is ready to lead his team through whatever developments NASCAR wish to make with the engines of the sport.

“It’s time to go to work now and we’ll see,” he stated. “I think this year has been really great from a competition standpoint, so the guys are doing some really good things. This is the next phase for NASCAR and we’re on board.”


Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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