Set to run a one-race deal with AM Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, JJ Yeley is amped about the opportunity to compete in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 for the first time since 2010.
Thanks to support from Legrand and Superior Essex, the Phoenix, Ariz. native will drive AM Racing’s flagship entry, the No 22 Toyota Camry for his 23rd career start and second at the “World Center of Racing.”
“I’m really thankful for this chance to run at Daytona again,” said Yeley who will also compete in Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race for TriStar Motorsports. “Running in both the XFINITY and Truck Series this weekend is a good opportunity for me to get into a rhythm. The truck should be plenty fast, so I’m anxious to see what we can do in 100 laps.”
Knowing a good finish could ultimately lead for more races for Yeley in the Truck Series, the two-time USAC Sprint Car champion is focused, but also knows the unpredictableness that comes along with superspeedway racing.
“The races at Daytona and Talladega are great equalizers, which sometimes produce some great stories and we’re hoping to be one of those great stories Friday night,” Yeley said. “I enjoy this type of racing and AM Racing had some solid results on the superspeedways last year, so I’m hoping with my experience we can up the notch a little bit and see if we can’t come out of the box swinging.”
Unlike last year, AM Racing won’t be a solo team at Daytona. The team announced on Tuesday that Austin Wayne Self, the 2015 ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year will compete in a second truck as a teammate to Yeley in the No. 32 AM Racing Toyota Tundra.
When it comes to superspeedway racing, the assurance of a teammate could be the difference of finishing at the front or bringing up the rear.
“Austin has plenty of experience on a superspeedway between ARCA and Trucks, so I’m very comfortable working with him during practice, qualifying and the race,” added Yeley. “We both have jobs to do, but we’re focused on doing a good job together in the interest of the race team. With the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing engines, we just might have that extra boost to be the race’s biggest sleepers. We’ll see.”
Driving for a still relatively new team in Truck Series competition, Yeley will have experience on top of the box with crew chief Rick Ren calling the shots. Despite 28 career wins as a crew chief in Trucks, the veteran has never won at Daytona. That’s a statistic Yeley hopes to change Friday night.
From a team side, AM Racing team principal Tim Self says he has confidence in both of his drivers’ abilities at Daytona.
“Daytona is unpredictable, but we have two very capable drivers,” said Self. “As a team, we feel very confident in the trucks we’re bringing to the track. We’ll just see how our cards are stacked in qualifying and then just exercise some patience in the race to make sure we’re hopefully around in the end when it matters most.”
Overall, Yeley, 40, has a combined 23 starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway across NASCAR’s top-three national divisions with two XFINITY Series poles, one top-five and four top-10s. Yeley’s best finish at Daytona is fourth in the 2006 XFINITY Series opener after starting on the pole driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
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