Richmond II: JJ Yeley race report

Strong Run Nets Yeley Best-Ever Richmond Result No. 18 team gains 19 positions from the 32nd starting spot to finish 13th J.J. Yeley netted his eighth top-15 finish of the year and his best ever NASCAR finish at Richmond (Va.) International ...

Strong Run Nets Yeley Best-Ever Richmond Result
No. 18 team gains 19 positions from the 32nd starting spot to finish 13th

J.J. Yeley netted his eighth top-15 finish of the year and his best ever NASCAR finish at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway by bringing home a 13th place effort in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.

After starting a disappointing 32nd, Yeley drove his No. 18 Imitrex (sumatriptan succinate) Chevrolet to 15th by lap 128. And for the remainder of the race, he was consistently in the top-15 while his Joe Gibbs Racing Team made several adjustments to get the car even more to his liking.

Many of the early-race adjustments by crew chief Steve Addington were aimed at fixing the car's forward bite and tight condition in the center of the corners. Yeley could get a great run on other drivers on the bottom of the .75-mile oval, but just didn't have the momentum to make the pass stick. Still, Yeley worked his way through the field and received several great pit stops by his No. 18 Imitrex crew. But in the end, it wasn't quite enough to sneak into a top-10 finishing position.

"We just didn't tighten up the car enough. It was just too free, and forward bite is very crucial at this race track," said Yeley. "That was something we struggled with all night long - trying to get the car to rotate more in the center so I'd have that forward bite. Steve (Addington) did an excellent job, and we kept tuning on it. The next to last run the car drove its best. On the last run, I don't know if it was that particular set of tires, but the car was a little bit tighter. I think we were fast enough that we could have got back in the top-10, but unfortunately, we just gave up too much track position in the end."

Despite not being able to sneak into the top-10, Yeley was upbeat about the finish because his No. 18 car had run well in so many races this season, only to be bitten by some bad luck that was out of his control.

"It's definitely good for myself and the team," said Yeley. "We had a good run last week at California and should have finished between fifth and 15th. We finished 13th this week. I guess if you look at the way things have been all year long in the last 50 laps, we've always had a really good shot of running 10th or 15th. We need to keep working with the team where we can be a top-10 team every week.

"As tough as the Nextel Cup Series is, to know that you can run inside the top-10 every week is helpful. If you have something happen and you finish 30th or 40th, it hurts everyone's confidence. We just need to continue to go out week in and week out for the next 10 races, just try our hardest, work on the car, and maybe we can get to be where we are a top-10 car every week. But I think we are satisfied with today's finish."

The 13th-place finish bumped Yeley up one spot in the championship point standings to 27th, 95 markers outside the top-25.

Yeley's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates - Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart - sit fifth and 11th, respectively, in points. Stewart dropped three spots after finishing 18th, while Hamlin gained two positions in points after a 15th place result.

Kevin Harvick scored his eighth career Nextel Cup victory and his third of the season by winning the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Kyle Busch finished second, while Kasey Kahne, Dave Blaney and Mark Martin secured the rest of the top-five. Greg Biffle, Ken Schrader, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Scott Riggs comprised the rest of the top-10.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Sept. 17 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by TNT.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing