Talladega: JJ Yeley preview

J.J. YELEY Looking to Turn Things Around in Talladega CORNELIUS, N.C. (April 22, 2008) -- Like baseball, racing is a game of inches. And like baseball, racing is also a game of luck. Crash Davis, the minor-league baseball veteran who Kevin ...

Looking to Turn Things Around in Talladega

CORNELIUS, N.C. (April 22, 2008) -- Like baseball, racing is a game of inches. And like baseball, racing is also a game of luck.

Crash Davis, the minor-league baseball veteran who Kevin Costner portrayed in the classic 1988 movie Bull Durham, once said:

"You know what the difference is between hitting .250 and hitting .300? I got it figured out. Twenty-five hits a year in 500 at bats is 50 points. OK? There's six months in a season, that's about 25 weeks -- you get one extra flare a week --just one -- a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail -- just one more dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium!"

The same can be said for J.J. Yeley's season.

Yeley, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing has had his share of "the ball not bouncing his way" in 2008.

There was the still unknown piece of debris that punctured the grill on Yeley's DLP Toyota at the 50th Daytona 500 and effectively made it impossible to draft with other cars. There was an early pit stop to check a potentially cut tire at Atlanta, which put him down two laps before the first round of pit stops. At Martinsville and Phoenix, Yeley was in the top-20 early on, but was involved in accidents not of his making before the halfway mark at each race.

All those little issues have added up to a frustrating start to the season for Yeley, who will look to turn the negative into a positive this week in the Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Yeley is 35th in driver points, but 36th in owner points, meaning he will have to qualify on time for Sunday's event. While it's not ideal, it's the reality of the situation. And Yeley and the entire Hall of Fame Racing crew will look to make the best of a tough situation -- and in the process -- work hard to get "the ball to bounce their way."

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

What are your overall thoughts heading to Talladega?

"For us, the biggest thing we need to do as a team is take a negative and turn it into a positive. Obviously, we had some really bad luck at Phoenix. We had a really good run going, we got wrecked and we fell outside the top-35 in owner points by three. I know that's disappointing, but I think the team is a lot more confident after Phoenix because we had such a good run going -- pit stops were fantastic. We're going to be in qualifying trim just like the rest of the go or go-homers and we can take that negative and turn it into a positive by maybe going out and winning a pole. I know in a situation like this, Talladega is probably the best place to be in this situation because with the shape of the race track and how smooth it is, you can get away with a qualifying setup in the race, where you would not be able to get away with that at a place like Daytona or some of the 1.5-mile tracks. I guess if it had to happen, this is a good place to do it. It's just a shame that we are in the situation, but we'll turn it around."

Can you talk about the new Talladega pavement (paved in summer 2006) compared to the old pavement?

"It's just tremendously smooth. Even though the race track has some age on it now, I don't think the race track is going to wear out as fast as some of the 1.5-mile tracks have. It's going to be a race -- if it's anything like the last few -- where the field is going to get drawn out, get lined up along the fence and then probably go racing in the last 50 laps. It's a race you still have to be smart in, make sure you have a good car and make sure you're there at the end."

What's the most important thing to you at Talladega? Horsepower, aerodynamics, handling, or is it a combination of everything?

"It's a little bit of everything, but I think the biggest thing is going to be horsepower. The current cars aren't nearly as streamlined as the old cars. I think the old recipe was three or four horsepower was good for a tenth of a second. I think it takes more horsepower to make that true now because these cars just don't go through the air quite as good. We have a very streamlined car. The car we're taking to Talladega is about three-tenths quicker than the car we took to Daytona just because it's a little bit more streamlined. It doesn't have quite as much downforce. I don't think that's quite the necessity at Talladega compared to Daytona. We need to get a really good engine from Joe Gibbs Racing and they've done a great job giving us great power. Toyota has been really fast on the restrictor-plate tracks, so we've got a lot of things in our favor going into the weekend."

Do you like racing at Talladega?

"I don't mind it. To me it's just not as fun of a race as some of the other ones we go to. I think part of the reason is that guys are so worried about getting caught up in an accident that you're just not racing the entire time. That side is a bit of a downer. But, you have to look at the big picture and make sure you're there at the end. And sometimes that means getting in line and riding around."

-credit: hofr

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers J.J. Yeley
Teams Hall of Fame Racing