Daytona 500: JJ Yeley preview

J.J. YELEY February 17, 2008 -- The Yeley Era Begins With DLP HDTV Team CORNELIUS, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2007) -- The 50th Daytona 500, the first race in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, marks the day when the J.J. Yeley era officially begins...

J.J. YELEY
February 17, 2008 -- The Yeley Era Begins With DLP HDTV Team

CORNELIUS, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2007) -- The 50th Daytona 500, the first race in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, marks the day when the J.J. Yeley era officially begins at Hall of Fame Racing, as Yeley takes over the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for the first time in a points-paying race.

It will be a historic day on many fronts, with Yeley making his first start for Hall of Fame Racing, the DLP HDTV car using Toyota power for the first time, and the Daytona 500 being run for a 50th time. Some of the most famous names in racing history have won the Daytona 500, including Petty, Andretti, Foyt, Yarborough, Pearson, Allison, Waltrip, Earnhardt and Gordon. On Feb. 17, Yeley, along with 42 other drivers, will look to add his name to that historic list.

Since the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the season, and the race every team would like to win, any and all advantages are pursued. Yeley has great support from DLP HDTV, Hall of Fame Racing and Toyota, but perhaps he's got something even bigger -- a higher calling, if you will.

Yeley's sponsor is DLP, a technology found in high-definition televisions, produced by Texas Instruments. On Feb. 17, 1958, exactly 50 years to the day prior this year's 50th Daytona 500, Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi (born 1193, died 1253) the Patron Saint of Television.

Coincidence? Who knows? But to barrow a line from Carl Spakler in the classic movie Caddyshack, Yeley's "got that going for him."

What are your thoughts heading into the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the 50th Daytona 500?

"I think this Hall of Fame Racing and DLP HDTV team is going to get stronger and stronger as the season progresses. We had a great test in Daytona, but we're still a fairly new team and obviously we're looking for the proper chemistry between myself and the crew chief and the engineers. Sometimes, it doesn't take very long, and sometimes, it takes a few extra races. Daytona is almost a race of its own and we're going to approach the Bud Shootout with the theory of going and winning it. We've got three superspeedway cars and as long as we have three superspeedway cars by the time the Shootout rolls around, we're going to go for broke. We're there to win the race. The way you have to approach the first five races is very delicate. There were a lot of teams last year that were really good, but had problems in the first five races. And by the time the sixth race rolls around, you don't want to be in a position where you have to qualify your way in. You just never know what's going to happen. This team hasn't missed a race, and we don't want to start missing races now."

What kind of advantage is it for you to compete in the Budweiser Shootout and get actual drafting experience in race conditions before the Daytona 500?

"It's going to be very valuable. It's going to be our first race and it's kind of a practice. There's nothing to lose, points-wise, and it's a good time to put the pressure on the pit crew so we can bust off the kind of stops we need to in order to be a championship-caliber team. With it being a night race, it's a little bit difficult to learn about the race track, but you can learn a little bit about the cars. It's a chance to build a little momentum going into the 500."

How tough is it to be in Daytona for two weeks, getting ready for the biggest race of the year?

"If this race was in the middle of the season, it'd be tough. But considering I haven't been in a race car in race conditions going on two months, it's a nice way to get back in the swing of things. Obviously, there is a lot more involved with Daytona, with media, sponsors and other commitments. My family is going to come down for the two weeks, and after qualifying on Sunday, we'll still have a little vacation on Monday and Tuesday. For me, there's going to be a lot of focus and concentration on the car and making sure we're focused going into the race. It's going to be very important for Hall of Fame Racing, DLP HDTV and Toyota to go out and have a good showing."

-credit: hofr

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Teams Hall of Fame Racing