J.J. YELEY Memorial Day Weekend Brings Out the Best CORNELIUS, N.C. (May 19, 2008) -- Memorial Day weekend has been pretty good to J.J. Yeley throughout the years. On Memorial Day weekend in 1998 at the age of 21, Yeley qualified for his first...
Memorial Day Weekend Brings Out the Best
CORNELIUS, N.C. (May 19, 2008) -- Memorial Day weekend has been pretty good to J.J. Yeley throughout the years.
On Memorial Day weekend in 1998 at the age of 21, Yeley qualified for his first and only Indianapolis 500. He started 13th and finished ninth, earning a top-10 in the world's most prestigious open-wheel oval race.
Last Memorial Day weekend, Yeley scored the best Sprint Cup Series result of his career when he finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Yeley will look to improve one spot this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads back to Charlotte for Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600.
Yeley and the DLP HDTV/Hall of Fame Racing team have reason to be optimistic about this weekend's 400-lap event at the 1.5-mile oval. The team had a strong car two weeks ago at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, but an alternator problem hampered what appeared to be a top-15 finish. Last Saturday night, Yeley also ran well in the Sprint Open exhibition race at Charlotte, moving from 20th to finish ninth in the 40-lap event.
Could another memorable run be in store for Yeley this Memorial Day weekend?
J.J. YELEY, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your overall thoughts heading into the Coca-Cola 600?
"For me, obviously my career-best finish came last year in the Coke 600. It's a race that is very long. It takes a lot of patience. The major thing is to be there at the end. Fuel mileage always seems to be in play at that race. I think patience goes hand-in-hand with that. Last year, we were one of the few teams that made it all the way to the end. We've done some fuel economy testing this year. For us, right now, the biggest challenge is making the race. I know we've got a car that is very fast on a very long run."
You had a good run both in the Sprint Open and at Darlington. Is that encouraging for you and the DLP team?
"It's been very encouraging. It's helping my confidence with the car and the team. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm proud of all the DLP guys. Everyone has been working really, really hard. The past month or so, the things we've learned, especially on the intermediate tracks, we are so much better than what we were at Vegas and California early in the season."
What do you remember about your second-place finish in last year's Coca-Cola 600?
"It was one of those days that seemed like it was never going to end. Four hundred laps at that race track is an eternity. My first Coke 600 as a rookie in 2006, I thought I was going to die after the race. I needed oxygen. I was dry heaving in-between the trailers because I had gotten so hot. So, I learned a lot and was better last year. The extra 100 miles makes a difference, even though it is a night race. I really learned a lot about patience."
Ten years ago, you competed in your first and only Indianapolis 500-mile race. What do you remember about that?
"It's hard to believe it's been a decade since I ran the Indy 500. It makes me feel old. That experience, by itself, is something I'll never be able to match. The fans really do make that race what it is. The parade laps and the pre-race festivities, to me, are second-to-none. The sea of colors that you see when you take the green flag is something that captivated me more than anything else during the month of May."
Would you ever like to compete in the Indianapolis 500 again?
"It's one of those things where I would consider the option only if it was a situation where I was capable of winning. I was fortunate enough when I was rookie, with limited pavement experience, to qualify 13th and finish ninth. The situation I was in then, we had one race car and we were never really able to go out, trim the car out, and race for the win. We were just racing to be part of the race. We had a good enough race car and a good enough engine that we were able to go out and finish ninth. Maybe if we would have had a little bit more to work with, there is no reason we couldn't have competed for a top-five or even a higher finish. It's like anything else. If you can't do it to go win, you have to evaluate why you would go do it."
- credit: hofr