Daytona 500: JJ Yeley race report

Debris Destroys Day for Yeley, DLP HDTV Team at Daytona A large piece of debris destroyed the front grill of Hall of Fame Racing's No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota and the chances driver J.J. Yeley had to contend for a win in the 50th running of the...

Debris Destroys Day for Yeley, DLP HDTV Team at Daytona

A large piece of debris destroyed the front grill of Hall of Fame Racing's No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota and the chances driver J.J. Yeley had to contend for a win in the 50th running of the Daytona 500.

Yeley, who started 37th in Sunday's season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, finished a disappointing 25th.

"We just kind of rode around there for the first part of the race," Yeley said. "It seems like about halfway through the race we hit a large piece of debris and it put a large hole in the bottom side of the grill. It really hurt the car out front and I had to be behind someone the whole time, which always makes it tough."

The large gash in the front of the car affected the car's ability to smoothly cut through the air and ultimately created more drag, which hurt the car's straight-line speed. The source of the debris was never really discovered, although crew chief Brandon Thomas was left with a few theories after the race.

"We don't really know when the debris got into the grill," Thomas said. "J.J. said he thought the 83 car (Brian Vickers) blew a tire and he probably hit part of that. Obviously, that kind of ruined our day. There was something that the NASCAR officials picked up out of our pit stall after our pit stop (after the hole was discovered). It was a pretty large, flat piece of metal, pretty thick, probably about two inches wide by eight inches long. We're not sure if that had something to do with what happened or not."

While what type of debris caused the damage remained a mystery, fixing the problem was no easy task either.

"The biggest problem is you just can't see with the bottom of the car being black, the grill being black and the fact it's basically night out," Thomas said. "It was a hard for us to even identify what the problem was. On the last pit stop we didn't fuel the car, but we put Todd Brewer, the car chief, over the wall to try and fix it and there just wasn't anything there left to fix. You would've had to make a much larger sheet metal panel to go from the top of the nose all the way down to the splitter area to patch it all up. There just wasn't enough time to do all that."

Yeley's 25th-place finish puts him 25th in the championship point standings. After one race, Yeley has 88 points and is 102 markers behind leader Ryan Newman, who beat his Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch by .092 of a second to win his first Daytona 500 and score his 13th career Sprint Cup victory.

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , J.J. Yeley , Brian Vickers
Teams Team Penske