Atlanta: Yeley - Friday media visit

J. J. Yeley, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo SS, talked with members of the motorsports media about racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, upcoming Bristol Race in Impala SS and improvements to the team. Yeley is currently ninth in NASCAR...

J. J. Yeley, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo SS, talked with members of the motorsports media about racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, upcoming Bristol Race in Impala SS and improvements to the team. Yeley is currently ninth in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series standings.

ON IMPORTANCE OF THIS RACE GIVEN ALL THE FOCUS ON BRISTOL BEING FIRST RACE IN CAR OF TOMORROW: "They are all important, there is not one race that is more important than any others. We are looking forward to the Car of Tomorrow race at Bristol. Bristol is not one of my favorite race tracks, so hopefully going there in the COT, maybe it will equal up things a little bit on that race track and raise it up in my rankings of how I race tracks. We ran really well here at Atlanta last year and now we are an even better team and have a better intermediate tracks program so I think by the time we get to Sunday, we will be able to come out of here with a good finishing position and then go on to Bristol."

ON HOW THIS YEAR HAS STARTED FOR YOUR TEAM: "It just shows what the potential of this team should have been last year. We had a lot of really good runs, we were fast a lot of the times but weren't able to close the deal. Sometimes that was my fault and I am the first to blame myself. But there were times that as a team we just didn't do the right thing. So the biggest thing is to learn from our mistakes, and apply those lessons to this year. So far things have worked pretty good. "

ON BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO OVERCOME SO FAR THIS YEAR: 'We really haven't learned anything new so far. Just to summarize the past few races, we lost a couple spots in the closing laps out there in California, that hurt us. Then we had a bad pit stop under green flag that cost us track position and some positions last week in Las Vegas. Sitting here right now, I think we have given up 40 points that we should have, but at the same time, we are still in the top-10 so we can't complain too much."

ON RACING AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "It is nice to come to Atlanta, I love this race track. It is a lot of fun to race. There is multi-groove racing makes for some of the better racing the fans get to see during the year. I have been looking forward to this race. If you have to start on a high and end on a low, I guess going to Bristol next week, I think it is going to be interesting. Bristol is Bristol. It is a fun place to watch. I have never really had a really good run there so it doesn't rate up there as one of my favorite race tracks, so maybe Car of Tomorrow will help that. It is going to be interesting to see. We had a really good test, both our Interstate Batteries and all the Joe Gibbs Racing teams did. It shows a lot of promise for us with the Car of Tomorrow when we go to Bristol next week."

ON IF DRIVERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT SWITCHING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN CURRENT CAR AND CAR OF TOMORROW OR IS IT JUST ANOTHER CAR: "To me, it is just another car especially right now on the short tracks. Now when we get to the intermediate tracks, it is going to be a bigger change depending on what the cars do aerodynamically and how they handle. They were surprisingly about ¾ of a second slower at Bristol, and knowing how fast things happen there, to lose that much time. But as far as competition level, a fifth of a second still separates 15 to 18 cars. So, it is still going to be a great race. It is going to be a little bit slower than previous races. It will be interesting to see how many wings come off."

ON WHAT IS A GOOD RUN AT ATLANTA: "I like race tracks where you aren't confined to the bottom. You can adjust your race car to go anywhere. Last year here we qualified very well, I think we ended up about 15th. We were satisfied with those results and would be again but at the same time, we have had almost a top-10 so far this year, so it would be nice to have that or a top-five so we can go on and start winning races."

ON IS MENTAL ASPECT TOUGHER ON A DRIVER WITH NEW TIRES, NEW CARS, ETC.: "This is racing and that is what it is about. I think it is going to be a lot more strain on the crew chief and the crews bouncing back and forth between two different cars. Now we are away from Vegas and the tire issues we had last week. Which, by the way, didn't turn out to be nearly as bad as a lot of guys thought going through practice. The track put down a lot of rubber, got a lot faster and there was a lot more grip than we saw, so I think the race track fixed the tire problem and now we are down to just good ole racing here in Atlanta. And we are looking forward to a good weekend."

ON COT FORCING DRIVERS TO KNOW A LITTLE MORE ABOUT CARS: "I think so. The COT is definitely going to drive different. The feeling that I have gotten over the last year in the car we are currently running, it is going to be a huge change. But at the same time, it is going to come down to the crew chiefs to learn that the same changes we make now aren't going to work. We are going to work a lot harder on a lot smaller resources to make the cars turn and trying to get grip in them. The way the tests have been so far, the car is slower, but I think it is going to be up to Goodyear to dictate how the COT is going to do. It comes down to feeding the proper information back. It is not going to up to me to know how many thousandths we are going to have to make an adjustment on the front end, that is why a crew chief makes the big bucks."

ON NAMING CARS: "No, I don't worry too much about which car I am driving. I guess, if I got in to a streak and go win three races in a row, then it is going to be my happy car and going to want to race it everywhere we go. At this point, I don't think there is a car we have in our shop that is any better than another one. Every time we build a new car, it is a little bit better, so we just keep making improvements and changes, and maybe after we knock down a couple, maybe we will name one. I don't have a lot of superstitions, wearing the same underwear or the same sock on one foot. If I go out and do my job, we will win races."

ON FEELING OF BEING SOLID IN POINTS: "It's nice, not knowing you have to dig yourself out of a hole. Last year we started out bad. You get in a position where you want to try to do something big, like a big Hail Mary pass for a touchdown, but unfortunately, it seemed like every time we tried to do something like that, things went bad. This year, we are able to do things on a more conservative level and because of that we don't have the pressure. We can go out there and qualify and make it easier on ourselves during the race and so far it has paid off. The cars have been good, we are working well together, it is probably the approach I needed to do last year, but you get in to a panic mode and it is hard to get out of it. Last year was a big disappointment for myself as well as a lot of other people I am sure. It is by far the worst season I have ever had in my racing career it is one I try not to look too far back on. At the same time, there were a lot of good things that happened last year. We were fast, we were competitive, we just weren't consistent enough. Consistency is an easy thing to fix compare to trying to find speed in a race car and a race team. We changed our approach to a couple of different things. Made a couple of changes on our race team with crew changes and I think we found the right chemistry for this race time. I have been in the sport long enough to not be one of those people that consumed with what other people are doing. I can't control what the other 42 guys are doing on the race track. There was a certain amount of pressure because Denny (Hamlin) did so well last season, just being on the same team being a teammate. But at the same time, because of our camaraderie, I was happy to see him doing good. They had a lot of things go their way last year, they did an awesome job and they are to be congratulated for that. For me, I can only do what I can control."

ON DIFFERENCE IN MAKING ADJUSTING COT COMPARED TO CURRENT CAR: "From what I can see, the COT is more like the car of yesterday. I have talked to different teams, the way you travel the cars, the springs you are having to run, it is more like a car they ran five or 10 years ago. It is definitely good for the competition. I was talking to Kenny Wallace and they had a great Bristol test. It is because they have taken some of the parts out and made it more toward the old days where they, as a baseline are good. Now, at the end of this year, after the engineers get a hold of these cars and spend some to work their way around some rules, the teams that are really heavily engineered are going to be the teams that come out dominating. Until they get to that point, Bristol is a short track and once we get away from there and start getting to places like a Phoenix, Dover, higher speed race tracks, the engineering is going to stand to stand out and the teams that are the best teams right now are going to rise back to the top."

ON DRIVERS WHO HAVE MORE YEARS IN NASCAR AND DROVE OLDER STYLE CARS HAVING AN ADVANTAGE: "It is going to be hard to say. I almost think from the test I did at Michigan, those cars are going to be more aero dependant that the cars we have now. It just has a different feel to the car. All of a sudden the cars aren't sucked down in the front, they don't feel quite as racy and feel quite a bit slower. With the driver moved over and some of the other changes, I don't think it is going to be quite like anything they have ever driven either. The best way for me to describe it is almost like being in a Craftsman Truck, you sit so low, the roof is so high, you have so much inside the car now, it just gives you a totally different feel once you get in it. Once we get past Bristol, it will be interesting to see how the car performs."

ON RUNNING BOTH BUSCH AND CUP AT BRISTOL: "The way the Busch season has started off, it has been very dismal. We have had a lot of DNF so far. The Cup Series has always been our primary focus. There is definitely more emphasis on it now running top-10 and being top-10 in points and wanting to stay there. Next week there is going to be a totally different feel between the two, I am sure of it. But I don't think it is going to be anything that is going to upset a driver as far as getting out of a Busch car and getting in the Cup car. It is disappointing for the team, those guys have worked so hard so I want to be able to go out and give them a good run. So I there is a good chance I am still going to do all the Busch races."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kenny Wallace
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing