Chicagoland: JJ Yeley race report

J.J. Yeley worked his way up from his 36th-place starting position to as high as 17th in Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. But a scrape of the wall on Lap 242 resulted in a cut tire...

J.J. Yeley worked his way up from his 36th-place starting position to as high as 17th in Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. But a scrape of the wall on Lap 242 resulted in a cut tire that sent Yeley into the wall again and out of the race. When the checkered flag dropped, Yeley was credited with a 35th-place finish.

It was a tough end to what appeared to be a promising day.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) went to work early in the 267-lap race, picking his way through the field to crack the top-20 by Lap 65.

After pitting under caution on Lap 60, Yeley again moved up a few spots to 18th-place. But with the leaders setting a blistering pace and a green flag run of over 90 laps, he was eventually lapped by then leader Jimmie Johnson before the caution flag finally flew on Lap 155.

Yeley again sat in the 18th-position on the ensuing restart and remained there for the next 50 laps, just missing the opportunity to get his lap back when the caution waved again.

"We had a really good car at the start and just kept working back and forth on trying to keep the car turning and keeping the balance good on it," said Yeley. "We did a couple of things and just kind of lost the balance halfway through the race and the car got really tight in the center of the corner and a little bit free on entry."

While trying hard to get his lap back, Yeley got loose in turns 1 and 2 on Lap 241 and scraped the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. He was able to complete two more laps before the resulting sheet metal damage caused him to cut a right-front tire and hit the SAFER Barrier much harder in Turn 1.

The impact forced Yeley to the garage, where it was determined that the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was too damaged to fix, forcing him out of the race after completing 243 laps -- 24 short of the scheduled 267-lap distance.

"We went on the bottom but I was too slow down there, so I moved up and ran the top lane for one lap and all was fine," said Yeley. "The next lap I ran in there again, got loose, and got into the wall lightly, but I thought everything was ok. I made two more laps and then cut down the right front tire and augured it in the fence really hard and damaged the front clip.

"We haven't had a self-inflicted DNF (Did Not Finish) by the driver yet, but chalk one up to me today. A tough way to end the day and I hate it for the guys."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers J.J. Yeley