Phoenix II: JJ Yeley race report

Yeley Pleased with Top-15 Despite Lack of Track Position Toward End of Race Phoenix native J.J. Yeley notched his career best NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish at Phoenix International Raceway by bringing "home" a 14th place finish in Sunday's ...

Yeley Pleased with Top-15 Despite Lack of Track Position Toward End of Race

Phoenix native J.J. Yeley notched his career best NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish at Phoenix International Raceway by bringing "home" a 14th place finish in Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500k.

Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Impala SS for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), qualified an impressive fourth and had high hopes going into the day. He backed up his strong qualifying effort by keeping his top-10 standing for much of the first half of the 312-lap race.

Yeley remained inside the top-10 until he pitted on lap 139. Because some of his fellow competitors had made pit stops during the lap 98 or lap 109 caution periods and were off-sequence from several of the leaders, they moved ahead of Yeley and into the top-10. Yeley maintained his position inside the top-20 until the caution flag flew on lap 235 for a spin by Dave Blaney.

On the ensuing pit stop, crew chief Steve Addington elected to take two tires to gain back the track position. Thus, Yeley restarted ninth on lap 238 and had enough fuel to make it the end.

The caution flag waved one more time on lap 271 with Yeley sitting in the 11th spot. After making a two-tire call the previous stop, Addington had no choice but to put on four tires this time around.

"We ran in the top-10 the majority of the day," said Yeley. "On the last pit stop, a lot of those guys took two tires or no tires and we had already done a two-tire stop to get track position prior to that. We were just a little bit off-sequence with the two-tire stop to get the track position, and we really didn't need that last caution."

Despite the fresh rubber all around, Yeley was only able to gain one position throughout the final, 37-lap stretch of green-flag racing.

"It just got to where it was really hard to pass at the end," said Yeley. "There were lapped cars that were racing a lot harder than they needed to. I was better than the 25 (Casey Mears) and better than the 2 (Kurt Busch) at the end. But being fast and passing someone here are two totally different things. I tried everything I could to get past the 25 without wrecking him, but when it's for the 13th position, it's not a big enough gain to make it worthwhile. We raced clean and hard and it ended up being a pretty good showing coming back home to Phoenix."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , J.J. Yeley , Dave Blaney
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing