Tag:J.J. Yeley
Posted on: August 7, 2008 11:42 am

J.J. Yeley and Martin Truex Jr.

Those who managed to pry themselves away from the Brett Favre coverage for a minute, might have noticed a few NASCAR Silly Season hit the wires late Wednesday.

Martin Truex Jr. will remain with DEI in 2009. I never really expected Truex to move. Unless he just absolutely despised the upper management, it didn't make sense. This isn't some underfunded organization trying to stay afloat. This is an organization with some cache that wants Truex as its centerpiece. He's solidly in the top 35. If he jumped to another team, there's a good chance he'd lose the security of being locked into the first five events of the season. 

And then there's J.J. Yeley, who was released from his ride with Hall of Fame Racing.

Some guys, no matter how successful they may have been at lower levels of racing, just aren't quite cut out for racing at the Cup level. And in the case of Yeley, that's a shame, because he's the kind of guy you'd like to see succeed.

But it was clear fairly early that it probably wasn't going to work out. In 2005, when Gibbs began to test out who would replace Bobby Labonte, Yeley didn't exactly take advantate of his opportunity, finishing no better than 25th in four races and never finishing on the lead lap.

When given the same opportunity in the same car, Denny Hamlin's star skyrocketed. He took the opportunity and ran with it, snagging three top 10s in his first five races in the car. 

That should have really been all Gibbs needed to know, but Yeley lucked out when Gibbs opted to expand to three teams, giving a ride to both Hamlin and Yeley at the urging of Tony Stewart, who owned all or part of the three different cars Yeley drove during his USAC championship days.

Yeley's first full season in the car continued to show the huge divide between him and his fellow rookie teammate. While Hamlin racked up two wins and 20 top 10s and finished the season ranked third in the standings, Yeley finished 29th in the standings with just 3 tops 10s.

I don't know if another Cup team will be willing to recycle him in 2009. If Newman isn't already locked into the second Stewart-Haas ride, would Stewart be willing to give his former protege a shot?

Rather than another Cup ride somewhere, I'd like to see what Yeley could do with a prominent Nationwide team first. Is IndyCar an option? I wish him the best because I think he could be a fan favorite with a little bit more success.

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