Yeley to drive for Foyt at Darlington



J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz., who swept USAC's "Triple Crown" in 2003, winning all three USAC National driving championships, will pilot A.J. Foyt's Greer Special C & R/Chevy in Thursday's "USAC Showdown at Darlington" K & N Engineering Silver Crown Championship race. The 50-lap contest marks USAC's return to the "track too tough to tame" after a 51-year hiatus.

Yeley, who finished ninth in Darlington's Busch Series race last year and has two Nextel Cup starts at the storied oval, hopes to be the third driver in a row to post a victory in the familiar #14. Tracy Hines won the March 23 race at Homestead, Fla. and Bobby East won Saturday's 100-lapper at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Yeley has a dozen career USAC Silver Crown triumphs, including pavement wins at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. in 1998 and O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. in 2003. J.J. also has 11 career Silver Crown poles to his credit.

Yeley, who finished ninth in the 1998 Indianapolis 500 at age 21, will team with Pablo Donoso of Chile in Thursday's race. Donoso finished 11th in Saturday's race at Iowa Speedway. His USAC career includes five National driving championships and 56 total National feature victories, which ties him with Mario Andretti for 15th on USAC's all-time winners list. He won the USAC Sprint Car title in 2001, the Silver Crown title in 2002 and matched Tony Stewart's 1995 "Triple Crown" feat with his 2003 Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget championships. In 2003 he also broke Foyt's 42-year-old USAC single-season victory record of 19, scoring 24 total feature wins! The old record of 19 was also shared by Sleepy Tripp and Jay Drake.

It's been four years since Yeley's last Silver Crown victory at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and two years since his last USAC Silver Crown start a Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado. Thursday will also mark his initial start in USAC's new-generation pavement Silver Crown machines.

"Darlington is a pretty cool place and I'm looking forward to this race," said Yeley. "I've watched a few of these new-generation Silver Crown races and actually worked on Aaron Fike's car at Kansas last year. They look pretty similar to the cars I drove and even though I haven't even sat in one yet I think I'll adapt pretty quick. It's unfortunate that Tracy (Hines) was injured and can't race at Darlington, but George Snider, who takes care of the Foyt cars, gave me this chance and it should be fun."

Paul White of Temple, Texas, who won USAC's 2001 Silver Crown title, emerged as the new series point leader after his seventh-place finish at Iowa. He leads A.J. Fike by five points in the new standings going into Thursday's race.

Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. led all but the first seven laps of Saturday's "Casey's General Stores USAC Triple Crown" race in the Foyt machine to beat Aaron Pierce, Cameron Dodson, A.J. Fike and Tim Barber. The victory was worth $15,500 to East, whose last series start also produced a victory in Indianapolis, Ind. in 2005.

Jeff O'Connor of North Vernon, Ind., whose father Pat won USAC's 200-mile race at Darlington in 1956, will serve as Thursday's Grand Marshal.

-credit: usac

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Mario Andretti , J.J. Yeley , Aaron Fike , Jay Drake , Bobby East , A.J. Fike , Paul White , Aaron Pierce , Pablo Donoso , Cameron Dodson , A.J. Foyt