I was scrolling through the entry list for the Cup race this Sunday and I saw a name that really shouldn’t surprise me, but it really caught me off guard. J.J. Yeley will drive the #53 for Rick Ware Racing at the Bristol Dirt Race. It shouldn’t have been a surprise with his history. The reason this is so significant is that Yeley might actually be the most accomplished dirt racer in the field on Sunday.
- USAC Triple Crown Winner
- 2x USAC Silver Crown Champion
- 2x USAC National Sprint Car Champion
- USAC National Midget Champion
It was kind of a no-brainer for a team like RWR to give Yeley the ride, but I guess he’s become so saturated in the bowels of NASCAR that it slipped my mind how talented he is on dirt. This race could be an equalizer for these smaller teams, and if that’s the case they have a chance to put together a great run with Yeley in the car.
I was thinking they had a chance at their team’s best finish all-time, but David Ragan actually holds that distinction with a one-off start at Daytona; although there is an asterik beside that. Front Row Motorsports actually prepped that car for Ragan, but it was entered under Rick Ware Racing.
Comparatively, Yeley has run a tad bit better than most of the talent RWR is able to put together, so there is a history of Yeley getting decent results from that equipment. Going into this dirt race which is still a total unknown, I’m holding hope at a top 20 finish at least.
I’m rooting for Yeley in this race because this guy has been through the wringer in NASCAR. Yes, it’s mostly his own fault due to a lack of talent, but his development was horribly handled by Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley was propped up as this amazing dirt racer and open-wheel guy, being compared to Tony Stewart. I think JGR got overexcited and rushed him up into Cup way before he was ready.
You have to respect a guy that has hung around and put work in for these smaller teams trying to make it in the sport. At this point, he knows as well as we do that he’s not a good stock car driver in the traditional sense. If he can find a way to get a small bit of redemption at a track that he has an upper hand at compared to other drivers, then it’ll put a small smile on my face.
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