Charlotte: JJ Yeley race report

Yeley Nets Career Best Second-Place Finish at Charlotte Interstate Batteries Team Stretches Fuel after Running in Top-10 All Night With the escalating cost of gas across the country on this Memorial Day weekend, J.J. Yeley was able to save...

Yeley Nets Career Best Second-Place Finish at Charlotte
Interstate Batteries Team Stretches Fuel after Running in Top-10 All Night

With the escalating cost of gas across the country on this Memorial Day weekend, J.J. Yeley was able to save just enough to cash in on his best career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), pulled off the second-place finish by saving fuel over the final 59 laps and staying out of several accidents while running consistently in the top-10 throughout the 400-lap race.

Yeley now sits 15th in the championship point standings, gaining five spots to sit just 59 points behind 12th-place Jamie McMurray Jamie McMurray -- the cutoff mark to make the final, 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup.

"I'm just thrilled," said Yeley. "It was an awesome day. If we would have gotten anything worse than an eighth-place finish today I would have really been upset. The Interstate Batteries guys worked their tails off. This car was really good in the test and this is exactly what this team needed."

After starting in the 12th position, Yeley looked strong from the beginning of the 600-mile race -- the longest on the Nextel Cup circuit. By the fifth lap, he had moved all the way up to the fifth position.

Yeley was able to keep his Interstate Batteries machine out of trouble and in the top-10 throughout the night as crew chief Steve Addington and the rest of the team notched several strong pit stops while making adjustments each time.

"We got up to fifth and got real tight and fell back to about 10th," said Yeley of the start of the race. "The guys really kept digging. Steve (Addington) made some great calls. The car was so close that even the smallest changes made a huge difference. We went back and forth between being too free and too tight. We hit it there near the end and thank goodness they got all the fuel in it that we needed."

While the Interstate Batteries team made small adjustments all night, they also utilized smart pit strategy, as they sometimes took fuel only over tires. The final pit stop on lap 337 was a case in point, because with a little more than 60 laps to go, it was critical that gas man Tom Lampe and catch can man Jason Hinson helped pack the car's fuel cell to capacity. With about 15 laps to go, Addington began telling Yeley to try to stretch his fuel mileage as much as possible.

"We were definitely worried about running out of fuel," said Yeley. "I tried to let the thing coast as long as I could to conserve and then use the brakes."

Yeley's JGR teammates -- Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin -- finished sixth and ninth, respectively. Hamlin remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race, as his ninth-place finish kept him fourth in the standings. Stewart and Yeley occupy the sixth and 15th positions, respectively. Stewart maintained his position in the standings while Yeley gained five spots by virtue of his best career Nextel Cup finish.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the June 3 Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa at Dover (Del.) International Speedway The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , J.J. Yeley , Denny Hamlin