Darlington: JJ Yeley race report

Another Rain-Delayed Event, Another Top-20 for Yeley Interstate Batteries Team Nets Second Top-20 in as Many Weeks If anyone wants to get an idea of how difficult a race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is, one didn't have to look much further than...

Another Rain-Delayed Event, Another Top-20 for Yeley
Interstate Batteries Team Nets Second Top-20 in as Many Weeks

If anyone wants to get an idea of how difficult a race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is, one didn't have to look much further than the right side of J.J. Yeley's Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Impala SS after 500 hard-fought miles at the track "Too Tough To Tame".

Just minutes after the completion of the race, crew chief Steve Addington did just that, standing outside the Interstate Batteries hauler assessing the right side of the car, knowing his wasn't only one that earned the famous "Darlington Stripe" on Sunday.

"There isn't a car in this garage that doesn't look just like ours," said Addington of the No. 18 Impala SS.

At one of NASCAR's toughest tracks, Yeley overcame plenty of hurdles, including the aforementioned Darlington Stripe, a tight condition and late-race overheating issues to notch his second top-20 finish in as many weeks.

"It's just a tough race track, and if you miss your marks by just a little bit, you are into the fence," said Yeley. "At times we were fast enough to run in the top-10 consistently. I was complaining of being too tight most of the race. I was good through everywhere but entry and center into turn one. I just gave up too much time right there compared to everyone else. Steve (Addington) finally gave me what I wanted and freed it up, but it was just too much and we lost a lot of track position."

After starting 22nd, Yeley hung patiently in the top-20 for most of the 367-lap marathon, fighting hard for each position hoping to set himself up for at top-10 finish.

But after the caution waved on Lap 303 with Yeley sitting in 17th place, he alerted the team that the engine temperature was rising quickly.

"There at the end, the car ran really, really hot with the temps at about 260 and the oil temp was pegged," said Yeley. "We took tape off on the last stop and gave up some track position just to make sure we finished the race."

Despite losing a little track position and the worry of the engine overheating, Yeley raced hard over the last 60 laps, running in 17th place with three laps to go. But as he tried to pass 16th-place Jamie McMurray on the outside of turn four, he was pinched up against the wall and lost momentum, which also allowed Kevin Harvick to sneak by.

Yeley had mixed feelings about Sunday's finish. While he earned another solid top-20 finish and gained two positions in the standings, he knows that he and the team are capable of finishing even better.

"The guys worked their butts off, but I just wish we could get better finishes," said Yeley. "An 18th-place finish is fair. We'll take it and it's going to keep us there in points. We are just going to keep chipping away at it but we've got to start running better. I don't know what it's going to take because I felt like we had a pretty good car. But it seemed like every time we had a chance to pick up track position, we just couldn't make it up."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , J.J. Yeley