Yeley topples Foyt, Tripp and Drake on way to record

Yeley topples Foyt, Tripp and Drake on way to record

J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. is now the holder of the USAC single-season feature victory record! By scoring his 20th win of the 2003 USAC racing season Thursday night at the Belleville (Kans.) High Banks, J.J. surpassed the previous record of 19...

J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. is now the holder of the USAC single-season feature victory record! By scoring his 20th win of the 2003 USAC racing season Thursday night at the Belleville (Kans.) High Banks, J.J. surpassed the previous record of 19 set by A.J. Foyt in 1961 and tied in 1988 by Sleepy Tripp and in 2000 by Jay Drake. The historic victory came in the opening race of this year's prestigious 26th "Belleville Midget Nationals" at the 1/2-mile dirt Kansas oval. J.J. piloted the #9 Steve Lewis-owned ASE/Ford Beast/Pink Ford.

J.J. Yeley.
Photo by Ange Lisuzzo.
Yeley trailed Jerry Coons, Jr. until lap 24 when he passed him on the backstretch and led the final lap and a half for the historic win. Coons finished second, ahead of Jay Drake, Scott Hatton and Brian Gerster.

"When the track got slick the car was awesome," commented Yeley after the victory. I've had a lot of seconds lately, so it's nice to get this win behind me. Now maybe we can tack on a few more." Coons, who led the first 23 laps, attributed his loss to a souring engine in the final laps.

Yeley's 2003 USAC season has been nothing short of phenomenal. His 20 feature victories have come in only 50 starts and have included 11 in Sprint Cars, six in Midgets and three in Silver Crown Cars. In the process, he is in the point battle for all three USAC National Series championships in quest of the USAC single-season "Triple Crown," a feat previously achieved only by Tony Stewart in 1995. A National Midget title would give Yeley a career "Triple Crown," achieved previously only by Stewart, Pancho Carter and Dave Darland.

Yeley's 50 starts have resulted in 35 podium finishes (top-three), an incredible 70%! His 11 USAC National Sprint Car feature wins are second only to the 14 posted in 1977 by Tom Bigelow.

Earlier this season, Yeley established new records for the earliest 10th and 15th victories of a USAC racing season. With 26 National races, plus special events, left in the 2003 season, he will be establishing new all-time USAC records with each successive win.

J.J. Yeley.
Photo by Kenneth Plotkin.
The season is a tribute to J.J. and his racing teams, which include Bob East and Tony Stewart, co-owners of his Weld Racing Silver Crown entry, Tony Stewart Racing, owners of his Sprint Cars, and Steve Lewis, owner of his National Midget Cars.

A.J. Foyt's 19 victories in 1961 all came in "National" events. In 47 starts, he won four in Championship Cars, six in Sprint Cars and nine in Midgets and his final victory of 1961 came on November 23. Jay Drake's 19 victories in 2000 came in 58 starts, Drake won 1 in Silver Crown Cars, 10 in Sprint Cars and six in National Midgets, plus an additional Dirt Regional Midget and a TQ Midget win. In 1988 Tripp won 19 events in 39 Midget Car starts, 17 of which were Western and the other two National.

Yeley is the 10th driver in USAC history to win 15 or more races in a single season. Others have been Foyt (1961 & 1964), Tripp (1987 & 1988), Drake (2000), Parnelli Jones (1964), Rich Vogler (1978, 1985 & 1988), Billy Boat (1995), Mel Kenyon (1967), Tom Bigelow (1977) and Tony Stewart (1995).

Yeley's next chance at a USAC feature victory comes in Saturday night's 40-lap "Belleville Midget Nationals" main event at the Belleville (Kans.) High Banks.

-USAC-

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Parnelli Jones , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Jay Drake , Pancho Carter , Jerry Coons , Brian Gerster , A.J. Foyt , Scott Hatton