A costly pit-road speeding penalty caused J.J. Yeley to finish a disappointing 24th in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race for the 50th Daytona 500. As a result, Yeley will start 37th in Sunday's Daytona 500. Yeley ...
A costly pit-road speeding penalty caused J.J. Yeley to finish a disappointing 24th in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race for the 50th Daytona 500. As a result, Yeley will start 37th in Sunday's Daytona 500.
Yeley originally finished 25th, but post-race inspection revealed that Carl Long's car was too low and NASCAR officials penalized Long and the team by moving them from 24th to the 27th finishing spot, moving Yeley up one spot.
NASCAR officials penalized Yeley after his No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry was determined to be going faster than the 55 mph pit road speed limit following his second pit stop of the day on lap 37. Because of the infraction, NASCAR ordered Yeley to serve a "pass-through" penalty, which meant he had to drive through the pits at the proper speed, although he was not required to stop in his pit box.
The penalty caused him to fall far behind the lead pack of cars and ultimately go one lap down.
"We had a good handling car at the beginning," Yeley said. "The pit road speeding penalty obviously really hurt us, but we learned some things for the '500.' We're going to have to start from the back, but we think we've learned some things that will help us on Sunday, and that's when it counts."
The day started early for the DLP HDTV team as a new Toyota engine was brought in overnight from Joe Gibbs Racing and put in the car at 6:05 a.m. (EST). It replaced the engine from Wednesday, which suffered a minor part failure during the first practice on Wednesday.
"Everybody did a great job," said crew chief Brandon Thomas. "It was a lot of work. We've been doing a lot of work on everything this week and we just don't have much to show for it. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing in the engine department did a great job. This engine lasted and ran well. We're happy about that and we're pretty upbeat about our Daytona 500 engine. We've just got to come from the back."
There will be little rest for the team, as the right-rear quarterpanel of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry will need to be fixed after it was damaged early in the Duel. When Brian Vickers spun on lap three, Casey Mears' car ran into the back of Yeley's machine and produced more work for the Hall of Fame Racing crew.
"The right-rear quarterpanel is beat up pretty bad," Thomas said. "It's separated from the tail and folded over in a couple of spots. We'll probably end up taking most of the quarterpanel off and replacing it with sheet metal tomorrow morning. We'll put a new vinyl package and a new decal package back there. We won't practice tomorrow. We've got plenty of maintenance work to do on the car after this race and we'd rather take our time and wait until Saturday to get back on track."
Not practicing on Friday after the Duels is not an uncommon practice, as many teams will opt to work on their cars prior to a brief systems check on Saturday before the Daytona 500.
With the Gatorade Duel races having been decided, the field for the Daytona 500 is set. On the pole is Jimmie Johnson, and alongside him is Michael Waltrip. By notching the two quickest times during time trials last Sunday, both drivers were able to lock themselves into position for the Daytona 500. All the remaining drivers, however, had to race their way to a starting spot in the Gatorade Duel.
Those who didn't make the cut and will be forced to watch the Daytona 500 from the sidelines are A.J. Allmendinger, Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader, Boris Said, Patrick Carpentier, Eric McClure, Sterling Marlin, Jacques Villeneuve, Stanton Barrett and Carl Long. Elliott and Marlin are both past winners of the Daytona 500.
The green flag waves for the Daytona 500 on Sun., Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. EST with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX.