Charity race features female relatives of NASCAR regulars
Veteran Better Half Dash driver Kristen Yeley clocked the fastest time in Monday’s qualifying session and will be among the favorites to win the fourth annual Better Half Dash when the ladies of NASCAR return to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s frontstretch quarter-mile during Bojangles’ Pole Night on Thursday.Yeley, wife of NASCAR driver J.J. Yeley, said she is happy with her qualifying effort, a 19.864 second lap, but also aware of how much different the racing will be under more crowded race conditions. The car are Bandoleros, similar to the ones in the photo above.
“Three years of experience,” she said. “I’m a lot more comfortable. I need to find my groove a little bit It takes me to find my groove, but when I do, I’m completely comfortable and I know my limits.”
Melanie Self, Heidi Stoddard, Ashton Bayne and Karlee Hensley rounded out the top five, while Ashley Deihl Stremme, Ashley Allgaier, Jenna Robinson, Adriene Pattie and Jordan Fish finished 6-10. Amy Reimann did not qualify.
Despite running the only sub 20-second lap, Yeley won’t know until Thursday if she’ll be sitting on the pole when the 25-lap charity race supporting Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children’s Charities goes green. That honor will be determined by fan donations. Fans can make a donation to their favorite Better Half Dash driver at www.betterhalfdash.com. The driver with the most individual donations will have the option of choosing her starting spot.
As competitive as the ladies of NASCAR may be, Yeley admits the opportunity to give back is also a huge part of participating in the Better Half Dash. The winning driver will receive $10,000 to be paid to different charities: $2,500 will be donated to Speedway Children's Charities while another $2,500 will go to Motor Racing Outreach. The remaining $5,000 will be donated to charities of the winner's choice.
Yeley is racing for Yantz's Sun is Back Foundation, in honor of a close family member, Yantz Shirey, who lost his life earlier this year.
“Every year we’ve done something different (for charity),” Yeley said. “This year, by far, is the most special, close to my heart. But I’m just as competitive as J.J. is. Every race weekend for him, I’m still sitting there watching him, screaming inside. I know he’s in my shoes now, we just switched places, I guess.”
The Better Half Dash is scheduled to go green at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday as part of an action-packed Bojangles’ Pole Night that also includes NASCAR Whelen Modified drivers taking the track for the Southern Slam 150 and drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying to set the field for Saturday’s Bank of America 500.
Tickets are still available for all October race events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Fans can catch all three days of racing, including Bojangles’ Pole Night, the Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Bank of America 500 with weekend packages starting at just $99.