J.J. YELEY Martinsville: The Calm Before the Storm CORNELIUS, N.C. (March 25, 2008) -- After a whirlwind start to the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which included numerous test sessions, five races, nearly three weeks in Daytona Beach,...
Martinsville: The Calm Before the Storm
CORNELIUS, N.C. (March 25, 2008) -- After a whirlwind start to the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which included numerous test sessions, five races, nearly three weeks in Daytona Beach, Fla., multiple trips to the West Coast, and several media and sponsor appearances, J.J. Yeley's hectic schedule calmed down a bit during the Easter holiday and, with it, the first off-weekend of the year.
While there is another off-weekend in just three weeks, for Yeley and the DLP HDTV/Hall of Fame Racing Team, the next three weeks will be just as busy as the first five as the series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
This weekend's Goody's Cool Orange 500 Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville is usually a low-key weekend for most competitors. But it will be an important one for Yeley and the DLP team as Steve Boyer will work his first race as crew chief after replacing Brandon Thomas last week.
Once through Martinsville, the pace picks up for Yeley as he heads to Texas and Phoenix -- two of the most important races on the schedule for the team. DLP HDTV, a division of Texas Instruments, is headquartered in Dallas, less than an hour's drive from Texas Motor Speedway. After that, it's on to Phoenix, Yeley's hometown, as well as the residence of Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel, co-owners of Hall of Fame Racing.
Three weeks, 21 busy days, with Martinsville serving as the calm before the storm.
J.J. YELEY, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your overall thoughts heading into Martinsville?
"Going into Martinsville, we've decided to make a change to the crew chief position, putting in Steve Boyer. He's been doing a lot of stuff with the team, a lot of data acquisition and things like that. So it won't be a drastic change since I've been working with Steve a little bit. I know Hall of Fame Racing and the DLP race car have been very successful in previous trips to Martinsville. I think we'll probably not vary too much from those setups."
What does it take to be fast at Martinsville?
"The biggest key at Martinsville is to qualify well. Since it's such a small race track, if you don't qualify well, it's easy to go down a lap early. It's hard to pass, so qualifying well is huge there. You need a car that will turn well. You don't have to be the fastest for 10 laps because you generally have long green flag runs there. So you need a car that is consistent for a long time."
Do you enjoy racing at Martinsville?
"I don't mind racing at Martinsville. Last year, I had some good runs at Martinsville. I had an engine failure in the fall race when we had a really good run going. It's a fun place and it takes a lot of patience. You have to have to be very methodical with your thought process and make sure you don't use up your brakes. You just have to be patient and make sure you keep everything intact at the end."
You've got three really important weeks ahead of you. Do you see Martinsville as the calm before the storm?
"I think it is. The last three or four weeks have been pretty busy. Martinsville is usually a low-key weekend, outside of the racing duties. Texas has not been one of my greatest tracks. We always seem to have some bad luck there. I finished well in the fall race there last year. With DLP being headquartered in the area, obviously we want to run well. You want to run well and win races no matter where you are, but I think it's crucial to do it in DLP's hometown, and then again in Phoenix the next week."