Daytona II: JJ Yeley preview

J.J. YELEY Journey to the Front of the Field CORNELIUS, N.C., (July 1, 2008) -- In Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, J.J. Yeley's No. 96 DLP® HDTV Toyota Camry will have a ...

Journey to the Front of the Field

CORNELIUS, N.C., (July 1, 2008) -- In Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, J.J. Yeley's No. 96 DLP® HDTV Toyota Camry will have a special paint scheme featuring the film "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which is set to be released July 11.

While the movie industry will be watching "Journey to the Center of the Earth," Yeley, crew chief Steve Boyer and the rest of the DLP HDTV / Hall of Fame Racing team will continue their "Journey to the Front of the Field."

After struggling throughout the first half of the Sprint Cup season, Yeley and the DLP team got a much-needed shot in the arm last week at New Hampshire when they finished third in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. It was the best finish for Hall of Fame Racing since Terry Labonte brought the DLP® HDTV car home in third place in 2006 at the road course in Sonoma, Calif.

More importantly, the finish helped chip away at the number of points the No. 96 car sits outside of the top-35 in owner points. Heading into New Hampshire, the No. 96 car was 256 points behind the 35th-place car. Thanks to a strong run at New Hampshire, Yeley and DLP team knocked 99 points off their deficit and are now 157 points behind the No. 77 Penske Racing car and the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing car, which are tied for 34th.

While Trevor Anderson (played by Brendan Fraser) and his nephew Sean (played by Josh Hutcherson) work their way to the center of the earth in the movie, Yeley and Boyer will continue their journey to the front of the field as they look to keep their momentum rolling Saturday night at Daytona.

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

How important was that third-place finish to you and the DLP HDTV team?

"You have to create your own luck. We put ourselves in position to finish in the top-three like we did. Obviously, we did that. But, you know, a finish like Sunday's is going to help my team. It's going to help me from a confidence standpoint. We still have a long way to go as a team to grow. It's something that's going to make the guys proud, but it's a whole new week. We have to get ready for Daytona. New Hampshire is in the past. We made up some points, which is key. The most important thing is, Daytona is another week we have to qualify our way in."

After missing the race in Sonoma, talk about rebounding one week later with a third-place finish at New Hampshire.

"It's tremendous. Sonoma was a big blow because I didn't feel that I was going to miss that race. They had good finishes with the road course cars they had when they had Ron Fellows in the car. To go out there and miss the race by 5/100ths and get ourselves further behind was devastating. It makes it even worse because I had to stay there Sunday, and I had to do hospitality and I had to go see the fans. You try to explain to people why you missed the race. It is the toughest thing in the world. It's very surreal. Sitting in the grandstands or sitting in the suite, having to watch the entire race, makes you want it even worse than you could have ever possibly imagined. It was an extra fire for me going into Loudon. New Hampshire is the race track that I've had the best average finish of any of the race tracks I've been to. It's going to give the DLP guys hope. And that's the most important thing."

How is the July race at Daytona different from the Daytona 500 in February?

"I think, even though you are still at Daytona, it's a completely different race. Being at night, the race track has a little more grip. There is always something about racing under the lights that just makes the cars look faster and makes everything look cooler. To me, looking at it from the fan perspective, I would vote to have a night race every week. It just changes the ambiance of the entire day. It's a lot of fun to head to Daytona at night when the race track has more grip."

Is the biggest key in restrictor-plate racing to just keep yourself out of trouble and be in a position to win at the end?

"Absolutely, because there are a lot of things that happen in superspeedway racing and at Daytona that are out of your control. Sometimes you get lucky and make it through an accident, and sometimes you get caught up in someone else's wreck. It's just a part of superspeedway racing. You know a wreck is going to happen, but you always hope to avoid it. Sometimes it comes down to being at the right place at the right time. If you have a good car, you can stay out front. If you have a really fast race car, you can hang back and stay out of trouble and race back to the front of the field fairly easily."

The No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry will feature the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" this week. What are your thoughts on that?

"Running the special movie paint schemes is pretty cool. From what I understand, 'Journey to the Center of the Earth,' is the first live-action feature film to be shot and released entirely in digital 3-D, so I'm excited to see the movie. In talking with people at DLP, it sounds like 3-D technology is the latest and greatest in terms of entertainment. I know the DLP Cinema technology is very important to Texas Instruments, and hopefully we can put on a good show for them this week in Daytona."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Ron Fellows , J.J. Yeley
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Hall of Fame Racing