Tire Leak Ruins Yeley's Last Ride in No. 18 Car Early Problem Makes Long Season Finale for Interstate Batteries Team J.J. Yeley's last ride in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) began leaking away less than 10...
Tire Leak Ruins Yeley's Last Ride in No. 18 Car
Early Problem Makes Long Season Finale for Interstate Batteries Team
J.J. Yeley's last ride in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) began leaking away less than 10 laps into Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The result was a disappointing 31st-place finish in the season-ending event.
Right from the start, Yeley knew he had his hands full with a car that was extremely loose. So loose, in fact, that it caused him to brush the wall on lap 24 and to be lapped after just 29 circuits around the 1.5-mile oval.
Even with an extremely ill-handling car and contact with the wall, Yeley kept the Interstate Batteries machine on the track until the first scheduled pit stop on lap 49. But just one lap later, the caution flag flew, trapping Yeley two laps down.
To add insult to injury, crew chief Steve Addington made drastic changes on the first pit stop of the day without yet knowing that the right rear tire had been slowly leaking throughout the first 50 laps of the race, thus causing the ill-handling condition.
"We had a slow leak our very first run out," said Yeley. "I couldn't figure out why it was so bad, because after 10 laps the car really went away. I got really loose running the top, where you had to be, and I was really tight running the bottom at the beginning of a run. I was just baffled on what was wrong. We finally pitted and had to make some huge changes, and that's when we found out we only had about 15 pounds of air pressure in the right-rear tire."
After learning that the tire leak was most likely the root of Yeley's early problems, Addington adjusted on the car throughout the race. But the drastic changes made early in the 267-lap race put the No. 18 team in a hole they could not dig out of.
"We made some drastic changes before we found out the tire was going flat," said Yeley. "It's one of those deals where we made a ton of changes and went way too far because we didn't know about the tire issue. We got the car to where it drove pretty decent in the end, but we were down two laps and gave up so much track position early that it pretty much ruined our day. It's a horrible way to finish off my career at Joe Gibbs Racing."
Yeley moves to Hall of Fame Racing in 2008, where he'll drive the No. 96 car.