Car number: 18 • Manufacturer: Chevy • Sponsor: Interstate Batteries
Owner: Joe Gibbs
• Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
• Crew Chief: Steve Addington
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin After a few solid runs in 2006, the Interstate Batteries team and J.J. Yeley look to build upon the foundation laid and work themselves into the top 25. Yeley was able to finish the season in the top 35 in Owner's Points, which will be a huge feather in his cap to start the '07 campaign. With a starting position guaranteed through the first five races of the season, the team can concentrate more on race setups and less on just making the show, which is important, as Yeley has not proven to be a great qualifier to this point.
There will be a lot of pressure on the team to perform following the instant success of JGR teammate Denny Hamlin. It will be important for Yeley to get a grasp on the handling characteristics of the heavy stock cars as he has not made a smooth transition from dirt to asphalt. Being a former USAC Triple Crown winner proves he has the talent. What's missing is the seat time.
Consistency is another issue facing this team. All too often Yeley would record a top 15 finish only to run 35th the following week. This is where a teammate like Tony Stewart can pay dividends. Both cut their teeth on dirt, driving open-wheel cars, and made the transition to the heavier, bulkier stock machines.
One red flag for this bunch is how it will transition to the Car of Tomorrow. Yeley has struggled to find the handle on the standard cars. Asking him to master two separate machines may be a bit much.
Yeley should continue to improve throughout the 2007 season, although we're talking baby steps. Patience is a virtue Joe Gibbs possesses, and it's a good thing. Another season like last, with some slight improvement, is in the cards.
2006 Recap It was a tough year for dirt track ace J.J. Yeley.
With only 12 lead-lap finishes and a heap of wrecked racecars, Yeley was only able to muster a 29th-place points finish.
Trouble started early for the Interstate Batteries team. Lap 80 of the Daytona 500 was his first wreck of the season. That relegated him to a 41st-place run. The next race was kinder, as the team tied a season high with an eighth-place finish at California. Yeley never seriously contended for the win, but he did lead the first two laps of his career.
The rest of the first half of the season was a roller coaster - 33rd-place runs tempered by an 11th.
The second half of the season witnessed more of the same, as Yeley averaged a 23.7-place finish from the July Daytona event until the start of the Chase.
An eighth at New Hampshire led things off in the Chase, but the team went into 2007 testing mode as it averaged a 27.6-place run over the season's final nine races. With an average like that, it appears 2007 is going to be a long year too.
• The Good: After crashing at Daytona, J.J. Yeley rebounded with an eighth-place finish in Fontana. Qualifying fourth, he ran near the front all day. He continued the trend with lead-lap finishes in the next two events.
• The Bad: Wrecked racecars. His crew bought stock in Bondo. It is hard for a young team to get caught up when it spends the majority of its time repairing damaged sheet metal.
• The Ugly: The mishap at Lowe's that sent Mark Martin head-on into the wall was as ugly - and frightening - as we saw all season.