Clermont, IN, May 22 2003 - J.J. Yeley drove an amazing final four laps to capture tonight's Hoosier Twin 50s at Indianapolis Raceway Park, passing Dave Darland, Brian Tyler and Dave Steele in the closing moments. His pass of Steele for the win...
Clermont, IN, May 22 2003 - J.J. Yeley drove an amazing final four laps to capture tonight's Hoosier Twin 50s at Indianapolis Raceway Park, passing Dave Darland, Brian Tyler and Dave Steele in the closing moments. His pass of Steele for the win was completed exiting Turn 4 on the final lap.
The 100 lap race was divided into two 50 lap segments, with an intermission. The roll of a giant die determined that the top five finishers of the second segment would be inverted for the start of the second. Because each segment was 50 laps, short distance "yellow laps do not count" rules applied. A four-car crash on the 97th lap set up Yeley's win. The lap count went back to 96, with Yeley in fourth behind Steele, Tyler and Darland. Steele executed a perfect restart, bringing the field slowly through Turn 3 and nailing it in 4. Lap 97 showed no change in order. Then Yeley found extra grip in his tires, which had cooled off during the yellow, and worked the low side to his advantage.
"The car was very, very tight, and I wasn't able to make the corners before the yellow," Yeley said. "After the yellow, the right front cooled down enough that just as long as I hit the bottom the car turned right to the center and got very good. If I didn't give it a lot of Ford power in the center, it got real pushy. I was surprised how slow everyone was going on the restart, and I could just dive underneath people. After I got by Brian on the white flag lap, I didn't think I had much chance at Steele. After I ran in for all I had going into 3 he left me enough room to squeeze by on the bottom. We rubbed just a little bit in the middle, and that was enough to propel me to the front."
This was a race that people will talk about for years. The first segment began with Tyler Walker taking the lead from his outside pole position, with Walker, Steele, Yeley and Jason Leffler leading most of the all-green segment. The leaders did not encounter lapped traffic until the segment was almost half over. Taking advantage of traffic, Steele quickly got the advantage over Walker, and Yeley eventually passed both for the segment one win. Meanwhile, Dave Darland drove like a man possessed as he moved up from his 19th place starting position. On the 50th lap he nipped Leffler for fourth.
The invert for the second segment put Darland and Steele on the front row. After Darland's performance in the first segment, it appeared that he might run away with it. But it wasn't long before Yeley took both Darland and Steele for the lead, then Steele took Darland for second. Yeley lost his edge as his tires heated, and the running order at the front eventually settled to Steele, Tyler, Darland and Yeley, with Tracy Hines breathing hard behind Yeley. As the race entered its final ten laps, J.J. felt he had no chance at the win. "At that point," he said, "I had no shot. I was doing everything I could to hold off Tracy for fifth. The yellow definitely saved me."
The yellow occurred on Lap 97, when Ron Gregory spun in Turn 2, taking John Heydenreich to the wall with him. Levi Jones was caught in the melee, and Ed Carpenter found himself with no place to go. All four drivers climbed out of their cars unhurt. The long cleanup allowed Yeley to cool his tires for the final run.
Silver Crown action continues Friday night, with the Hoosier Hundred on the dirt mile at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Both the Hoosier Twin 50s and the Hoosier Hundred are presented by Team 6R Promotions. Team 6R has posted a $50,000 bonus for a driver who wins both 50 lap segments and the hundred miler. Yeley is now in a position to take that bonus. Tonight's win was only his second on pavement; his biggest successes have been on dirt.