J.J. YELEY , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES MONTE CARLO SS -- Finished 2nd: TALK ABOUT THIS, YOUR HIGHEST FINISH EVER IN NEXTEL CUP "We had a top eight race car. We ran up there pretty much all night long. We had a couple of stops where we made...
J.J. YELEY , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES MONTE CARLO SS -- Finished 2nd:
TALK ABOUT THIS, YOUR HIGHEST FINISH EVER IN NEXTEL CUP
"We had a top eight race car. We ran up there pretty much all night long. We had a couple of stops where we made some adjustments where we got the car a little bit too free and fell back to 12th. So if we would have finished worse than eighth, I would have been definitely been disappointed with today's finish. But there at the end, when we came into the pits, Steve Addington was really crunching numbers trying to find out if we were going to make at. At any point there, if we would have pushed it really hard, we were a top five car at best. Pretty much from the get go, I just really started rolling off the throttle early trying to save as much fuel as I could.
"I learned from California last year when they finally figured with about 20 laps to go that we had a shot at making it and I had run too hard. So I just was trying to save as much fuel as I could. The fuel pressure never faltered -- even on the last lap. We probably could have made at least three or four more laps. But a second place finish was definitely what this Interstate Batteries team needed."
WITH THREE GIBBS CARS IN THE TOP 9, BUT YOU COULDN'T GET THE JOB DONE?
"How many Hendrick cars were up there? They've been winning everything and they only had one car that finished up there. We weren't the best cars here at the test -- any of the three of us. The Ginn cars looked really impressive. We brought the same car back from the test. We were a top-10 race car. The COT stuff we really seem to have a good handle on it. We've led a lot of laps. We haven't won any races there yet either.
This is the toughest sport and the toughest business around. Just because you have the fastest race car doesn't mean you're going to win."
YOU'RE ONE OF THE GUYS ON THE HOT SEAT RIGHT NOW WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR BEING AVAILABLE. HOW DOES THIS STRONG FINISH HELP YOU OUT AND HOLD ONTO YOUR SEAT?
"That's kind of a silly question. I do my best every time we go on the race track. We've run fast pretty much every race this year. We just don't have the finishes. We've had a lot of bad pit stops -- not all the time, we just have them at the wrong time.
It seems like it really costs us a lot of track position that we can never really make back up. As far as being on the hot seat, if I get fired, I get fired. There are a couple of other places I can go. I'm not worried about not having a ride. If I couldn't find anything in Nextel Cup, I'll go back to racing Sprint Cars. That's all I know how to do. That's what I'm going to do. I' m going to drive a race car -- regardless of whether it's here or somewhere else. My job is to go out there and try to win races. This is obviously a good step in the right direction. The communication between me and the team and Steve Addington has gotten so much better.
We've built some cars that are a little bit different that suit me a little bit more. They found what Denny (Hamlin) needed really quick. Tony (Stewart) has that relationship with Zippy. They've been crew chief and driver longer than I've been married, and I've been married a pretty long time. That just doesn't happen very often. We're figuring out what we need to do as the day goes on and with those changes, we're going faster and faster and getting better finishes."
IS THERE A TIME WHEN YOU GOT DOWN? EVERYBODY IS STARTING TO WRITE ABOUT YOU NOW
"No, I don't generally read what you guys write. I stick to TV (laughs). I can't control what you write. And I can't let what you write affect what I do on the race track. I can only do what I can do. Joe Gibbs Racing gives me excellent equipment. I can go out there and drive the wheels off a car. If I catch the breaks, we can run second. If I don't catch the breaks, we're going to get caught a lap down because we pitted or we didn't pit.
"This is just the first time probably in my two years in Cup racing that I didn't catch the bad break. I always wait until five laps to go for a caution to come out or for me to run out of fuel because we had the same scenario at Homestead last year. We stayed out. It looked like we had a chance of winning the race. A caution came out. We were short four gallons of fuel. But the way the fuel cells were in the cars, it couldn't pick it up under caution and we ran out of fuel with three laps to go.
"So I've always ran into bad luck. I can't blame it on anything else other than just going out there and trying to do my best. So, maybe this will cut me a little slack from you media people for at least a couple of weeks."
DID YOU JUST SAY THAT YOU CAN'T CONTROL WHAT WE WRITE, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL WHAT TV REPORTS?
"I guess I can kind of control what you write by just going out there and running well and staying out of trouble. Last year, I had the worst season I've ever had in my life racing. Obviously it's easy to pick on me. I was caught up in the most accidents -- I read that somewhere in the paper. Statistics show that I was in a wreck 40 percent of the time.
But it didn't show that I cut a tire down half the times or I got wrecked by someone else.
Because you don't watch the race you're not looking for the No. 18 Interstate Batteries race car on the race track, you don't know what happened other than at the end of the day I was wrecked. All I can do is go out there and avoid wrecks, run up front, and you look at the statistic and go hey, he finished 10th -- regardless of how good I ran all day long. The guy who races the hardest is generally the guy who finished between 10th and 20th. The guys that wins the race is just having a Sunday cruise because his car is driving so good. Today, I could go another 100 laps. Last year at this race, I went to the infield medical center because I was going to die. So, I had a better race car and I feel a lot better today."
-credit: gm racing