Martinsville II: JJ Yeley race report

Engine Woes at Martinsville Yeley Finishes 31st in Subway 500 After Early Engine Troubles J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 IMITREX (sumatriptan succinate) Chevrolet, finished 31st in Sunday's Subway 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at ...

Engine Woes at Martinsville
Yeley Finishes 31st in Subway 500 After Early Engine Troubles

J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 IMITREX (sumatriptan succinate) Chevrolet, finished 31st in Sunday's Subway 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway as engine woes plagued their afternoon.

Shortly after the green flag dropped for the 500-lap race, it was apparent that all was not well inside the cast-iron V-8, as Yeley radioed to crew chief Steve Addington on lap 20 that the car had a "funny feeling."

The engine wasn't picking up speed coming off the corners and wouldn't take off until halfway down the straightaway. The No. 18 crew immediately went to work trying to diagnose the problem while Yeley worked to stay on the lead lap.

Unfortunately, Yeley didn't have enough juice to stay in front of the leaders. By lap 61, the IMITREX Chevy was one lap down and the team was hoping for a much-needed caution.

That wish came true when Casey Mears spun his No. 42 Dodge in turn two to bring out the caution flag on lap 66. From atop the pit box, Addington ordered wedge, rubber and air pressure changes to the car as well as a switch to the secondary ignition box. Yeley restarted the race in 33rd, still one lap down.

After only two green flag laps, Yeley radioed to the team that the motor was getting worse. "It won't go down the straightaway at all," said a frustrated Yeley. "The motor comes and goes now through the entire lap."

As a result, Yeley became a sitting duck on the race track with cars passing him left and right. And on lap 90 as he was racing for position with David Gilliland in the No. 38 Ford, contact between the two cut Yeley's left rear tire. Yeley had to pit under green for repairs, which relegated him to 41st, four laps down to the leader.

Over the next 66 laps, Yeley diligently described his engine's condition over the radio so the crew could continue to work on a diagnosis. It was decided that on the next caution the over-the-wall team would remove the rev chip - a device that limits the amount of rpms the engine can turn - in addition to changing four tires and adding fuel. Finally, it seemed like the race car was headed in the right direction.

On subsequent pit stops, only slight changes were made to the car to fix minor handling issues, but the intermittent engine woes did not subside. It seemed as if on every other run, the motor would sour. The continuous struggle kept the IMITREX team in 31st position and six laps down by the end of the race. The silver lining in the caution-filled race was that all four fenders remained on the car - something that couldn't be said for nearly half of the 43-car field.

"It's just disappointing," said Yeley. "I thought we had a pretty decent race car right there. Obviously, once you're that far down on laps, you don't want to cost someone else a good run. So you just kind of run 80 percent, stay out of the road and look forward to going somewhere else."

With his 31st-place result, Yeley dropped one spot to 29th in the Nextel Cup point standings, 239 markers outside the top-25.

Yeley's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates - Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart - sit fourth and 11th, respectively, in points. Hamlin gained two positions by finishing second in the Subway 500, while Stewart maintained his point standing by finishing fourth

Jimmie Johnson scored his 23rd career Nextel Cup victory, his fifth this season and his second at Martinsville by winning the Subway 500.

Finishing a season-best third behind Johnson and Hamlin was former Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Labonte. Stewart trailed Labonte, while Gordon, a seven-time winner at Martinsville, finished fifth.

Mears, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Green, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Petty comprised the rest of the top-10.

With only four races remaining, the next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Oct. 29 Bass Pro Shops 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race begins at 2:55 p.m. EST with live, high-definition coverage provided by NBC.

-credit: JGR

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , David Gilliland , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing