J.J. YELEY Right Turns on the Left Coast CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 18, 2008) -- For the first time this season, J.J. Yeley and the rest of his counterparts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to turn left and right during a race, as ...
Right Turns on the Left Coast
CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 18, 2008) -- For the first time this season, J.J. Yeley and the rest of his counterparts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to turn left and right during a race, as this week's Toyota/Save Mart 350k will take place at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course in Sonoma, Calif.
In preparation for the 110-lap event, Yeley recently spent a day testing a Late Model stock car at Sonoma under the watchful eyes of road racing expert Chris Cook. Yeley and the DLP HDTV team also took a day to test at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) road course. They hope that their hard work in the last month will pay off in Sonoma.
In recent years the road course events have been very kind to Hall of Fame Racing, as Sonoma was the setting for the team's best finish to date when Terry Labonte brought the No. 96 home third in 2006. In addition, last fall at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course, Ron Fellows had a fourth-place run for Hall of Fame Racing in Chassis No. 022 -- the same chassis Yeley will drive in this weekend's event.
J.J. YELEY, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your overall thoughts heading into Sonoma?
"I'm very confident with the next race being a road course race at Sonoma. I really enjoy the road course races. I've probably raced at Sonoma the least of any road course, but after going out there last week and testing a Late Model with Chris Cook -- granted they are different cars and we used different tires -- I still got some good laps. I worked with Chris to sharpen up the skills I don't have on the road courses as far as places where I really need to attack the race track and places to make up time. There were three corners that, I felt, really hurt my laps at Sonoma. And after working with him for half a day, I have a lot more confidence in my ability at Sonoma and the lap times were better. We also had a really good test at VIR. I felt comfortable there and I felt like, after testing at Sonoma, I've got a better comfort level there, as well."
Is it tough having only two road course races on the Sprint Cup schedule?
"I don't think so. It's fun to have the road course races in the Sprint Cup schedule. It adds a little bit of diversity to the schedule, which is a good thing."
Is Sonoma a fun race track for you?
"I don't know if it's a fun race track. It's fairly difficult to pass. It's pretty narrow. It's definitely not Watkins Glen. I haven't done a lot of road course racing during my career. To me, Watkins Glen is a pretty fun place, but it's still hard to pass there. It's going to be interesting to see. I enjoy the road course races because it's so different for me. It's almost like a new challenge. We're just going to head out there and have fun with it."
While you don't have much road course experience, you had a great run going at Watkins Glen in 2006 when a tire went down late in the race, and you ran well in a Nationwide Series race in Mexico. Do you feel like you've been a quick study on the road courses?
"I actually think I'm a pretty good road racer for the limited amount of road racing I've done. In 2006, it's looked like we had a top- five finish going at Watkins Glen and cut down a tire with three laps to go. I tried to stay out and it finally blew out on me and we finished around 20th. I enjoy road racing. It takes a lot of patience and you have to be really smooth. I think of myself as a smooth driver, but half the battle is just trying to take care of your equipment. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and do well this weekend."