Chicagoland: JJ Yeley preview

J.J. YELEY Sweet Home Chicago CORNELIUS, N.C., (July 8, 2008) -- J.J. Yeley was born and raised in Phoenix, spent considerable time living in Indianapolis and now resides in Charlotte, N.C. So how can Chicago -- or more specifically...

J.J. YELEY
Sweet Home Chicago

CORNELIUS, N.C., (July 8, 2008) -- J.J. Yeley was born and raised in Phoenix, spent considerable time living in Indianapolis and now resides in Charlotte, N.C.

So how can Chicago -- or more specifically Chicagoland Speedway -- be considered "Sweet Home Chicago" for Yeley?

The driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing has made it well-known that the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., is his favorite stop on the Sprint Cup Series circuit. And why shouldn't it be?

The track has been good to him over the years, as he started 10th and finished 10th in the 2006 Sprint Cup Series race and has three finishes of 11th or better in four Nationwide Series starts in Joliet. In six total races in both series at Chicagoland, Yeley has qualified in the top-15 four times.

One could even make the case that Yeley has five top-15 qualifying efforts considering that, in 2005, he subbed admirably for Tony Stewart, who was sidelined for qualifying after crashing his No. 20 Home Depot car in the opening minutes of practice. On very short notice, Yeley practiced Stewart's backup car and then qualified it a respectable 13th.

The friendly confines of Chicagoland Speedway might be just what the doctor ordered for Yeley, as he has endured a roller-coaster ride over the last three weeks. He failed to qualify at the road course in Sonoma (Calif.) three weeks ago, rallied back two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by finishing a season-best third, then failed to qualify for last Saturday's event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

However, Yeley relieved Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing on lap 72 at Daytona as Stewart became ill. Yeley was in the top-10 late in the race, but two separate accidents not of his making caused him to finish a disappointing 20th.

J.J. YELEY, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:

You've often said that Chicagoland Speedway is your favorite track. Why is that?

"From the very first time I was there in a Nationwide Series car my rookie season, I've enjoyed the race track. It's a place where you can really stand on the gas. In our first race there (2004 Nationwide Series race), we qualified well, had an opportunity to win the race, led a lot of laps, we pitted -- we probably shouldn't have -- and we gave the race away. It's just a fun race track. It's very similar to Kansas Speedway and I also really enjoy going there. I don't know if it's the fact that it doesn't have as much banking as the other 1.5-mile tracks, or the fact that you can run any groove you want to. It's just a real fun track."

The backstreach at Chicagoland is different than many other tracks because there is a slight arc to it. What do you think about that?

"I guess that's what makes it more unique than most places. There is a difference between turns one and two and turns three and four. Generally, you can run anywhere you want to in turns one and two. If you can run the bottom in three and four, you're generally a lot faster, but you don't have to run that low groove. It's just a little bit different of a race track. For me, it was always close to home since I lived in Indianapolis for so long. I race a lot at the dirt track adjacent to the big track, so I guess I just have a fondness for the place."

Is this a fun part of the schedule for you since there are races at Chicagoland Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, being that you lived in Indianapolis for so long?

"It is a fun part of the schedule. This is also one of the tougher parts of the schedule because it gets really hot and the tracks get pretty slippery. To me, it makes the racing a little more fun. It makes it more challenging."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , J.J. Yeley
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing , Hall of Fame Racing