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Yates and Irvan Part Company

8 July 1997

CHARLOTTE, NC -- In an announcement that should surprise no one, with the possible exception of the civility of it all, Robert Yates has made it official that Ernie Irvan's contract to drive the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford will not be renewed for the 1998 season.

Yates, who turned to Irvan in September of 1993 after the untimely loss of driver Davey Allison said, "I didn't come to this decision overnight. I've worried and wrestled with it for more than a year and it's not a simple, one answer deal. Attempting to explain it would take longer than it took to make the decision itself. And, if you hadn't lived it, you still wouldn't explain it."

Then Yates, looking at the positive side of the sometimes rocky relationship with Irvan said, "I think Ernie and this team have done some great things together. With his courage and determination, he achieved some things that not many thought possible. From our first win together at Martinsville (Va.), to his comeback at Loudon (N.H.) last year to his victory over Michigan last month -- I'll always be proud of the part this team has played in those triumphs."

"While it is not my wish, I will not be driving the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford next year," commented Ernie Irvan.

Irvan continued, "While I regret that circumstances developed which prevented the continuation of my relationship with that team (beyond the 1997 season), I look forward to continuing my quest for a Winston Cup Championship, and wish the Texaco Havoline team much continued success.

"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 last four years."

While neither side is ready to announce what plans they have for the future both parties vowed to continue with their best efforts to get the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford as high up in series point standings as well a gather as many victories as they possibly can together. Irvan said, "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."

Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel