J.J. YELEY DejÃ Vu HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2007) -- The French expression dejÃ vu translates to "already seen" in English. The phrase is used to describe a feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a situation previously. J.J.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2007) -- The French expression dejà vu translates to "already seen" in English. The phrase is used to describe a feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a situation previously.
J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is hoping he might have a feeling of dejà vu when he returns to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bank of America 500.
At this very same track in May, the team notched a runner-up finish in the Coca-Cola 600 after crew chief Steve Addington rolled the dice, gambling that the No. 18 Chevy would have enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. Addington's gamble paid off and Yeley crossed the finish line in second -- his best career Nextel Cup finish to date.
Even more encouraging was the fact that Yeley ran in the top-15 for all but two of the 400 laps run during NASCAR's longest event -- more than any other driver. And for 349 of those 400 laps, Yeley was running in the top-10.
For the Interstate Batteries team, there are great memories that accompany that Memorial Day race at Charlotte. But there's also no doubt that Yeley and the entire team have been dreaming of improving on that second-place finish in May.
Will it be dejà vu all over again? We'll have to wait until Saturday night to find out.
J.J. YELEY (Driver, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet):
After running up front almost the entire race and finishing second in the Coca-Cola 600 back in May, are you looking forward to getting back to Charlotte?
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend. We're taking the same car that we ran at Kansas, which is a good car and has one of the best bodies of the cars at JGR. It has great downforce and sideforce. I figured out a couple of things going into the Coca-Cola 600 that helped me with the track. Finishing second and being competitive all day long in that race was the main thing for us. It just gives me a lot more confidence going into this weekend's race knowing that. Hopefully, we can capitalize on the strong run in May and be one position higher when the checkered flag flies on Saturday night."
Was the Coca-Cola 600 the high point of the season for you and the Interstate Batteries team?
"I guess it really has been. We've had a lot of races where we've run just as well and haven't been able to come away with a finish like that. Any time that you finish in the top-three, versus finishing 10th or farther back, it's a huge boost of confidence. It was just a good day for everyone because we ran up front all day long. We qualified pretty decent there in May and qualifying is going to be really important on Thursday night. Qualifying draw will also make a big difference, and we'll hope for that late draw, when the track is cooler."
Looking back at how you've run at the 1.5- and 2-mile race tracks this season, you ran well at Charlotte and then struggled at Michigan and California. Does the strong run at Kansas give you more confidence going into another 1.5-mile track this weekend?
"It definitely does. I generally complain as the race goes on that the car is way too tight. They made some front-end adjustments to help me toward the end of the race. We struggled with the car being way too free on entry. I wasn't able to drive the car into the corner like everyone else was and I was giving up way too much speed on the front end of the run. We kind of went back and tried some things at Kansas, where we got the car really stable, and worked on everything else from there."
For the tracks that host two NASCAR events, the race track seems to change quite a bit from the first race to the second, mostly because the weather is either cooler or warmer. How much do you think Charlotte has change since the May?
"I think the race track will be pretty similar between the two races. Right now, it's hot in Charlotte. But going into this weekend, the highs are supposed to dip back down into the low 70s. I'm sure in the evening it will be in the 60s, or cooler. I think that was pretty similar to what it was when we were there for the Coca-Cola 600. Generally, for the fall race at Charlotte, the temperatures are borderline frigid and the race track usually has a lot more grip. But it looks like it might be pretty similar to what it was during the spring race."
It's October, which means that the Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing. In 2008, you'll be driving for Hall of Fame Racing, which was recently bought by the owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Have you been paying closer attention to your hometown baseball team?
"It's been a lot of fun. I definitely have paid attention this year more so than I have over the last couple of years. At the same time, being from Phoenix, I've always been a Diamondbacks fan. It's great to see them get back to the playoffs and to where they have a shot at winning the pennant and going on to the World Series, like they did back in 2001. It's great to see them doing well, especially since they are kind of an underdog team. They don't have the history like some of the other teams, but they are still going out there and getting the right guys to be able to win. It's great for Jeff (Moorad, owner) and Tom (Garfinkel, owner) and everyone with the Diamondbacks, since they've already made me feel like a part of the family. I'm really looking forward to rooting them on in the NLCS and, hopefully, the World Series."