Watkins Glen: JJ Yeley race report

Solid Day Ends with Disappointing Result for Yeley Interstate Batteries Team Finishes 18th at Watkins Glen J.J. Yeley and his team had two keys to success on Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course going into Sunday's Centurion Boats...

Solid Day Ends with Disappointing Result for Yeley
Interstate Batteries Team Finishes 18th at Watkins Glen

J.J. Yeley and his team had two keys to success on Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course going into Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race -- patience and solid pit strategy.

Unfortunately for Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the combination of several late cautions that derailed the pit strategy -- along with a lack of patience on the track by some of his competitors -- cost him his first top-10 road-course finish.

Yeley sat 13th on the final restart of the day on Lap 82, but as the field funneled through turn one just after the green flag flew for the final time, Yeley was hit from behind, knocking the car out of gear and costing him precious momentum. The hit from behind ultimately cost him seven spots. While he gained back two of those over the final seven laps, the incident caused him to settle for an 18th-place finish.

"We were 13th on the last restart but got rear-ended," Yeley said. "That knocked us back and we really didn't have enough time to gain it back. Everyone was out funneling into turn one and I was on the brakes, and the 40 (David Stremme) had me blocked and someone hit me in the right rear and spun me sideways. When he hit me, it knocked me out of gear and I lost momentum and got freight-trained by several race cars. We picked some of those spots back up but lost too many spots there."

As the caution waved on Lap 53, crew chief Steve Addington called Yeley to pit road for a track-bar adjustment, tires, and, most importantly, fuel.

Then, on Lap 58, Addington called Yeley back to pit road for a splash of fuel that enabled him to go the rest of the way while the majority of the field in front of him was at least five laps short of making it to the end if the race stayed green to the end.

But four late cautions -- two of which were extremely lengthy -- enabled the rest of the field to save enough fuel to make it. The combination of multiple, lengthy cautions and the hit from behind turned what looked to be at least a top-10 finish into a top-20 finish, instead.

"We stayed out and came in when we needed to have the right fuel mileage," said Yeley. "We changed some things from Sonoma and the fuel mileage was very good today. Things we did to the carburetor hurt the torque a little bit, so running hard I would get beat off of turn one a little bit. All in all, it was a good day, but I'm disappointed a little bit because I felt we should have had a better finish."

Yeley's JGR teammate Denny Hamlin remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race as his second-place finish kept him second in the standings, 344 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Fellow JGR teammate Tony Stewart took the win to lift him one spot to fourth in the standings. Yeley's result allowed him to maintain his 21st-place position in points.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Aug. 19 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , J.J. Yeley , David Stremme , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing