Martinsville II: JJ Yeley race report

J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Impala SS for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), saw an early end to his bid for a top-10 finish in Sunday's Subway 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway when a...

J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Impala SS for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), saw an early end to his bid for a top-10 finish in Sunday's Subway 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway when a terminal engine problem shortly after a lap-258 restart sent him to the garage for the day.

Yeley started eighth, ran in the top-12 for the first 98 laps of the 500-lap race, but then began suffering the effects of a tight race car as he got on the throttle exiting the tight corners at each end of the paper-clip shaped, .526-mile Martinsville oval. Yeley fell back to as far as 29th as crew chief Steve Addington and the Interstate Batteries team made significant changes on successive pit stops under caution on laps 116 (right-rear spring rubber added) and 168 (right-rear track bar adjustment). After a four-tire change on lap 214, Yeley felt his Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was the best it had been all day. He stayed out during a lap-247 caution period and found himself in 10th place on the lap-255 restart. But shortly after crossing the start-finish line as the race went back to green, heavy smoke poured from the back of the No. 18 car. Yeley coasted into the garage, and after a quick inspection, the team called it a day.

"Just as I was getting into turn one, I was starting to feel a small vibration." Yeley said. "I thought for a second I was having a brake problem. But I looked in the rear-view mirror and I could see smoke coming out the back of the car. Most likely, it's a broken piston, or something along those lines. I don't think it's got a big hole in it. Nonetheless, the Interstate Batteries car was pretty decent. It was one of those days when we were just starting to get excited, and we got the car where it was starting to drive well again. It got really tight in the center for a while. And it was definitely dicey racing in the middle of the field when we were back there. I wouldn't call that much fun. At any rate, right when things were looking good again, we had one of those problems that have been so very rare at Joe Gibbs Racing. We'll just pack up our stuff and move on to the next one."

The 42nd-place finish dropped Yeley three positions to 21st in the Nextel Cup point standings.

-credit: jgr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers J.J. Yeley
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing