J.J. YELEY Finishing Out 2007 -- Looking Toward 2008 HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2007) -- When J.J. Yeley heads to Hampton, Ga., for this weekend's Atlanta 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he'll basically have...
Finishing Out 2007 -- Looking Toward 2008
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2007) -- When J.J. Yeley heads to Hampton, Ga., for this weekend's Atlanta 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he'll basically have two objectives.
From Friday to Sunday, he'll practice, qualify and race the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing in hopes of scoring his first career Nextel Cup victory.
Then, on Monday and Tuesday, he'll work toward getting 2008 off to a good start by testing the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing (HoFR) at Atlanta. Yeley will drive for HoFR beginning in 2008 and will test for the team during NASCAR's two-day open test at Atlanta with the Car of Tomorrow (CoT).
While it will be a busy five-day stretch for Yeley (he's also competing in the NASCAR Busch Series event Saturday at Memphis, Tenn.), it also promises to be a productive 120 hours.
A strong run in the Interstate Batteries car on Sunday, coupled with a good test in the DLP car on Monday and Tuesday, could give Yeley the boost he needs to finish out 2007 strong and begin 2008 on a high note.
J.J. YELEY (Driver, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet):
Overall thoughts heading into Atlanta:
"We've stepped up our intermediate program, of late. We really struggled for a couple of races on the balance and what we needed. I thought we had a pretty good car at Kansas. We kept working on the car at Charlotte and got it pretty good, so I think we'll be in good shape. After a rough weekend at Martinsville, where we blew an engine, we'll have to get back on pace."
Talk about the surface at Atlanta. It seems as though you can use several different racing lines throughout the race. Is Atlanta a place you enjoy?
"It is. I hate race tracks that you just have to run the bottom and there is nowhere else to go. At Atlanta, at the beginning of a run you'll see guys hugging the bottom, and then later in the run they'll be running by the fence. I just really enjoy Atlanta. It's a fun place to run. It's one of the fastest race tracks we go to. Qualifying is always a white-knuckle experience. That said, qualifying doesn't mean the world at Atlanta, which is a benefit. If you've got a good-handling car, especially on good, long runs, that seems to be the key to running well there."
You're in a real dog-fight in points with the guys who are 17th to 21st. You finished 42nd at Martinsville and fell to 21st in points, but you're only 64 points out of 17th. How important are the last four races?
"Martinsville was really a blow for us because we've really been chipping away, of late. We were doing really well at logging top-15s and being where we needed to be. I really felt we had a car that was capable of being in the top-10 at the end of the day, and when you break an engine just past halfway, that's pretty disappointing. But, at the same time, I really haven't had any engine woes in the last couple years. Sometimes you'll just have part failures and I'm pretty sure that's what it was. You just have to chalk it up to a bad day at the office and get ready for the next one. That's the beauty of racing, there's always one more -- unless it's Homestead, then you've got all winter to get over it."
You tested last week with Hall of Fame Racing, the team you'll be joining in 2008. How did the CoT test go at Kentucky, and are you looking forward to testing Monday and Tuesday with HoFR at Atlanta?
"After our test at Kentucky, I'm very optimistic for our test at Atlanta. We can work really hard with each other and run some good laps. For the little bit we spent at Kentucky, it seemed like we were pretty good as far as speed was concerned. I was really comfortable in the car. I think after two days of working on the car, and seeing how we stack up against everyone else, we can start planning on what it's going to take for 2008 to be a little bit better and get geared for the season."