Roush Yates Engines powering Ford into championship finale

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By Jerry Jordan, Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – When the green flag waves to start the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford Ecoboost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale, two of the cars battling for the title will be powered by Roush Yates Engines – giving Ford a 50/50 shot to reign atop the sport.

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will face-off against the Toyota’s driven by Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. After 35 races and three rounds of elimination the championship hunt comes down to one race.

“Coming in here was really exciting thinking about all of the commitment and effort from Ford Performance,” said Doug Yates, Roush Yates Engines President and CEO. “It feels like right now, Ford Performance is really on the offense. They’ve given us the resources we need and are pushing really hard.

“To bring Stewart Haas aboard this year and to make it to the final four with Kevin Harvick is something that we are all really proud of. And that was a big commitment from Ford to sign them up and obviously it was the right thing to do and hopefully we can see if Kevin or Brad can get it done. You know bringing Team Penske on in 2013 was a great move for Ford, as well. I am just proud to be a part of the team and for all 190 employees at Roush Yates Engines and everybody at Ford Performance, we’ve got a shot at it.”

Roush Yates Engines has a long history of success across multiple forms of motorsports, including powering eight drivers to wins in the Daytona 500 and multiple championships and wins across NASCAR top three touring series. In fact, Chase Briscoe put a Roush Yates powered Ford F150 from Brad Keselowski Racing in Victory Lane during Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Then Cole Custer backed it up by putting his Ford Mustang in victory lane for Stewart Haas Racing in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale.

The company has been around since Doug’s late father, Robert Yates, joined forces with Jack Roush in 2003. The two racing legends were the only teams running Fords and felt like joining forces in the engine department would give them an advantage on the track. It worked. Fast forward six years and Doug bought his father’s share of the company and has continued the Roush Yates Engines tradition of success.

“He would be as nervous and excited as I am,” Yates said, of his father, who passed away earlier this year of liver cancer. The relationship between the father and son was strong and Doug said he would call his father from track and let him know how they were doing.

“I would call him on the way home every day and we would talk about our chances and what we were doing,” he said. “I thought about that a lot this weekend. He would be as nervous and excited as I am. Although he is not here touching the engines, he is part of it. He and Jack Roush founded Roush Yates Engines in 2003 and they were the fiercest competitors but they were also a lot alike. So, he was a true engine guy, a true NASCAR racer.

I think a lot about the things he would, you know, growing up he would always point out the things that I missed and it finally got to the point to where I didn’t miss as many things. He always told me he was worried about me growing up and wanted to make sure I could make it on my own. That’s the kind of dad he was. He was always caring. He made sure he taught me well and I am trying to make sure I represent him and my family going forward. But I sure do miss him and I wish he was here.”

There is little doubt that Robert Yates is watching over Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend and the company he built is in Doug’s expert hands. As the minutes tick away to the start of the race, a team of engine experts are going over every detail, no matter how small, to ensure the Roush Yates Engines have what it takes to cross the finish line first.

Doug didn’t say if it mattered which Ford won the championship but he did confirm that Roush Yates Engines built six motors for the Ford Ecoboost 400. The two best engines went into the Harvick’s and Keselowski’s primary cars and the next two best engines went into their backup cars. While determining which engines were the very best and which ones may just be a tick less competitive is easy for the folks at Roush Yates Engines, the average fan would probably get lost.

With words like push rods, electronic fuel injection, cam shafts, manifolds and air flow Dough Yates explained that everything has to come together perfectly to have the best performance. And according to him, to have the best engine you need air flow.

“The key to engines is air flow mainly, so cylinder heads, manifolds, cam shafts and all that development is really key to bringing all the air into the engine we can,” he said. “We develop specifically around an RPM band range for this racetrack. So, we pay particular attention to make the most power in that range. Building engines is all about the details. You need every bearing clearance, every ring gap, every single bit of the engine needs to be properly tested,”

And testing engines is much different than when Roush Yates Engines first began and when his dad was fielding cars decades ago. Back then the best way to test an engine was to take it to the track and put it in a car. Of course, teams also used to bring three engines to the track – one for practice, one for qualifying and one for the race.

“The biggest change in NASCAR for us is our testing ability. At our shop we have dynamometers that we can run this race here at Homestead in our shop,” Doug Yates said. “We load the engine and we build it just like we are going to race – same specifications that we are going to put into the #2 car and the #4 car and we load it up on our dyno and we run Homestead.

“I always ask my guys, ‘Did we win?’ and they say, ‘Yes, we won.’ And then we take the engine apart and inspect it. We let the parts of the engine tell us the story. We look at the bearings. Do they look in the proper condition? We measure things such as valve seat recession, piston hardness and then we push the limits. We are always pushing to how hot can we run it, how lean can we run it and how light can we make all of the components? When you get all those things right and all the engineers do their job, all the race engine guys who prep the engines do their job and when it all comes together you’ll have a great day.”

Doug Yates said he is confident in the drivers and teams running their engines and in a few hours, everyone will know if the hard-work and dedication paid off. He said he has been a Blue Oval fan for his entire life, so he not only sees the commitment from Ford and how they are dedicated to performance on the track but also on the showroom floor. It’s something that everyone takes seriously because of the competitive nature of the automotive industry but Yates believes Ford is building the best products it ever has for consumers while also excelling on the track.

“Championships are lifetime achievements,” Doug Yates said. “I think Ford Motor Company is making great products and it is something I am proud to be a part of – going back to Le Mans and winning Le Mans 50-years after Henry Ford was there with his dad was really special. We want to carry on the legacy of Ford Racing and Ford Performance. We want to be known amongst all the great names that were there from Holman Moody to the Wood Brothers to Jack Roush, Robert Yates, Roger Penske and Roush Yates is part of that and we want to make sure everyone knows that when we go to work every day we think about Ford Motor Company and making them proud.”

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