Pocono: JJ Yeley race report

Yeley Able to Take the Good with the Bad at Pocono Interstate Batteries Team Finishes 17th in rain shortened event J.J. Yeley had mixed feelings about his 17th place finish in Sunday's rain-shortened Pocono 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race ...

Yeley Able to Take the Good with the Bad at Pocono
Interstate Batteries Team Finishes 17th in rain shortened event

J.J. Yeley had mixed feelings about his 17th place finish in Sunday's rain-shortened Pocono 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

On one hand, Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, drove the majority of the race in or near the top 10, waiting patiently for a late-race push, knowing he had a strong race car underneath him.

On the other hand, because of the various pit strategies and an engine that was losing power quickly, Yeley found himself falling in the order before another rain shower might have saved the day by soaking the track and ending the race 94 laps short of the scheduled distance.

After a more than a three-hour rain delay, the race was started just after 5 p.m. (EDT). The race was finally called at around 7:30 p.m. (EDT).

"I guess I'm glad that it was raining," Yeley said. "I could see the rain clouds rolling in and I started running harder and harder and then I heard a pop out of the exhaust and it felt like something in the engine might have given up. I hadn't lost a complete cylinder but it still wasn't running 100 percent. At the same time, it's tough because I think we could have definitely finished in the top 10 at the end of the race if we wouldn't have had the engine issue."

Yeley started 11th and, after losing a few spots at the beginning of the race, he moved up into the top 10 before making his first pit stop of the day on the Lap 25.

He came out of the pits in ninth position and stayed near the top 10 until a crucial point in the race on Lap 65. Several crew chiefs invoked different strategies, with some electing to keep their drivers and cars out on the track, including eventual race winner Jeff Gordon and teammate Casey Mears, while others like Yeley, pitted for two tires. All the while, others such as Yeley's JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin, elected to change four tires.

"We took two tires on the second-to-last pit stop and thought it was the right decision," Yeley said. "I got bunched up behind a couple of cars and probably should have made a move but didn't and got hung out. In a matter of about three laps I got freight-trained by about seven or eight cars. It's disappointing because I was taking it easy. It's a really long race and last year I was almost running out of brakes. I was just cruising along and then I started picking up the pace a little bit."

As the rain clouds rolled in near the halfway point, Yeley, along with a majority of the field, were forced to come to pit road one more time for fuel around Lap 90. With his engine losing power, Yeley was able to hold on before the skies opened up again and ended the race well short of the full distance.

"There were some guys out of sequence that we would have picked up some positions, but at the same time if the engine would have broke we would have finished close to last," added Yeley. "You have to take the good with the bad. It wasn't a great day. But at the same time you can have days like this and you can survive points-wise but you can't when you finish 38th like we did last week in Dover."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Casey Mears , J.J. Yeley , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing