Darlington: JJ Yeley race report

Alternator Problem Hampers Promising Day for Yeley at Darlington An alternator problem hampered J.J. Yeley and his No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry in Saturday's night's Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.)...

Alternator Problem Hampers Promising Day for Yeley at Darlington

An alternator problem hampered J.J. Yeley and his No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry in Saturday's night's Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, causing him to finish a disappointing 26th.

After starting 31st in the blue and black Hall of Fame Racing-prepared machine, Yeley quickly moved into the top-25 and was running laps times near those of the leaders.

Unfortunately, near the 100-lap mark of the 367-lap event, Yeley radioed to the DLP crew that the volt meter inside his race car, which measures the amount of power available from the battery, was low and getting lower. Yeley quickly switched to the back-up battery, but the balky alternator soon sapped its power as well. Finally, it was determined that Yeley needed to pit under caution on lap 141 to switch the battery -- as changing the alternator would be far too time consuming -- in order to ensure that the DLP car could finish the race.

"The car was pretty exceptional all night long," Yeley said. "We started off real, real tight, but Steve (Boyer, crew chief) made some adjustments and from that point on, the car drove really well. We were able to keep pace with the fast guys, and there were even points where we were driving away from the leaders in order to stay on the lead lap. It's a sign of things to come. Even though this is a 1.3-mile track, it raced like a 1.5-mile and the car was real fast. It's a finish we have to take, but if you look at it, we should have finished in the top-15.

"We'll look at the positives and negatives and we'll try to figure out why we broke an alternator wire and had to change a battery, which put us down a lap. We can't afford to have little things happen. We could have had a great points day, but we had a good points day."

A battery change is complex due to the compact and hidden area in which the battery is housed: just in front of the left-rear tire.

"When he said that the first battery starting fading, I think there were 260 laps to go," Boyer said. "We went to the second battery to buy us some time, but I knew eventually we were going to have to change it. When we changed the battery -- you can't really see where it's at. It's a difficult change to make. We got ourselves behind, we ended up at the tail end of the field, one lap down, and then lost another lap to the leader and that really hurt our day.

"I think we had a lot better car than we showed tonight. The guys did everything they could and we'll go on to Charlotte and see if we can't surprise some people and have a great weekend."

Because of the alternator problem, Yeley had to use only necessary electronics in the car -- which meant that such driver comforts as fans and a cooling system were turned off in order to save power.

"This is one of the most physically demanding races out there," Yeley said. "It was difficult with no fans or cooling unit, but I guess it was good preparation for the Coke 600."

The Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR's longest race, and it will be conducted in two weeks at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

The 26th-place result kept Yeley 36th in the championship driver standings, with a post-Darlington total of 702 points. The No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing entry is 37th in the series' owner standings, with 730 points, 94 points behind the 35th-place No. 22 car of Bill Davis Racing.

Kyle Busch won Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 to score his seventh career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Darlington.

Finishing second to Busch was Carl Edwards, while Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and David Ragan rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Travis Kvapil, Dave Blaney and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 31 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 500-mile race.

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , J.J. Yeley , Carl Edwards , David Ragan , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing , Hall of Fame Racing