Charlotte II: JJ Yeley race report

"It Ain't Over Till It's Over" for Yeley at Charlotte If J.J. Yeley and the rest of the Interstate Batteries team didn't believe in Yogi Berra's famous saying, "It ain't over 'till it's over" before this weekend, they sure do now. Yeley,...

"It Ain't Over Till It's Over" for Yeley at Charlotte

If J.J. Yeley and the rest of the Interstate Batteries team didn't believe in Yogi Berra's famous saying, "It ain't over 'till it's over" before this weekend, they sure do now.

Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), battled back after being down one lap on two separate occasions to finish 13th in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

After crashing his primary car during his qualifying attempt on Thursday night and having to start at the rear of the field in a backup race car, Yeley went a lap down less than 100 laps into the 337-lap race. But he patiently waited to gain it back on lap 136, even though he was battling a car that was tight in the center of the corners for much of the race.

"We started out and we weren't too bad, but we got down a lap fairly early," said Yeley. "We struggled with the car being tight in the center and I couldn't get the car to roll like I wanted it to. To battle back in a backup car, get down a lap on two separate occasions, and still end up 13th is pretty darn good."

After gaining back a lap the first time, crew chief Steve Addington dialed up a two-tire stop on lap 175 that helped propel Yeley to 17th position. But as the caution flew 15 laps later, Addington brought Yeley back in for fuel only, hoping to gain even more track position. The gamble didn't pay off as Yeley was penalized one lap by NASCAR for pitting outside the pit box.

"We got back on the lead lap and got some good track position and we were going to try a fuel-only stop to get even better track position," said Yeley. "I was so worried about getting pinned in my pit stall by the 40 (David Stremme) who was pitted in front of us, that I just got it turned too much and got the right side out of the pit box and we got penalized a lap. It was a stupid mistake that I never should have made and it put us back down another lap."

Fortunately for Yeley, his second stint a lap down didn't last as long as the first. He earned his lap back just 17 laps later when the caution flew on lap 207. From there, he hung inside the top-20 for the last 100 laps of the race.

When the caution and subsequent red flag period occurred on lap 323, it gave Addington ample time to decide to bring Yeley in after the red flag was lifted for right-side tires, an air pressure adjustment, and some added tape to the front grill for what appeared to be an eight-lap shootout. But after race leader Ryan Newman crashed on lap 333, it set up a green/white/checkered finish that extended the race three laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance.

"The plan was to come in and pit for a 10-lap run to the end and not a two-lap shootout," said Yeley. "With all the accidents and things that happened, the guys that stayed out gained more positions. If we could run 10 green flag laps, we could have picked off a few more. But we made up a lot of points on the 26 (Jamie McMurray) and hung right there with Bobby (Labonte) as well. It's hard to complain about a top-15 in a backup car."

Yeley's JGR teammates -- Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin -- finished seventh and 20th, respectively, in the Bank of America 500. Stewart maintained his fourth-place standing in the championship point race and sits 198 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Hamlin maintained his ninth-place position in the standings and currently sits 349 points arrears Gordon. Yeley moved up one spot to 18th in the standings.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule -- the sixth race of the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup -- is the Oct. 21 Subway 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Jamie McMurray , J.J. Yeley , David Stremme , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing