JJ Yeley News

Yeley, JGL Racing Finish 5th At Road America

JJ Yeley, driver of the #28 JGL Dodge, finished 5th in the Nationwide Series Garden Denver 200 Fired Up By Johmsonville at Road America last weekend. JJ joined this team well after the start of this season. With no corporate sponsorship, this newly formed team has locked down some amazing finishes, the most recent last weekend. Add the fact that Yeley has limited road course experience and that they competed during a rain soaked race, just finishing the race would be quite a feat indeed, yet this team with maybe 7 or 8 crew members along with Crew Chief Steve Platenburg, prepared and maintained a race car for Yeley that 37 other driver/crew members were probably left (at the end) green eyed and astounded. I spoke with JJ to hear his take on the race, team performance and his incredible finish.

"I had a fantastic run for my first time at Road America. Going through practice and just trying to learn the race track, get re-acclimated to road course racing, being the first road course that we've participated in this year, we were pretty decent in some of the practices. I got more and more comfortable with the race car, the race track and trying to find where I was gaining and losing speed. I was a little bit disappointed in my qualifying effort but I was never able to get a clean, clear lap. There's a lot of different schedules that everyone has. We just rode around during first couple of laps, just trying to get clear, just to stay out of trouble not wanting to wreck or get taken out early in the race. There are some guys with road course experience and a lot of guys with very limited experience and as the race progressed we got comfortable with passing some cars. We were running around in the 15th and 16th positions, taking it easy and then the rain came."

"That really changed the entire event which was good for us and the JGL Racing team. That was the first time I ever raced in the rain. It was definitely a unique experience, trying to figure out where I needed to be on the race track, where the grip was, trying to see the cars and dodging the cars between the spray and the rain. The windshield wipers didn't really work, weren't really effective. Luckily the guys did some Rain-X to the windshield before the race started to give me some better vision. Having the rain was almost like a great equalizer. The teams that have the big horsepower were unable to get that power down to the race track. Using some of my Saturday night dirt track experience definitely prevailed and I got comfortable with the race track and how hard I could push it. Next thing we knew we were in the top 10 and then in the top 5 at the end. I thought on the last lap I really had an opportunity of getting in the top 3 but it just didn't work out for us on the last half a lap. Regardless it was a fantastic finish, the first top 5 for the team with very minimal damage which is sometimes difficult to get away with when you go to a road course."

"Steve Plantenburg and all the guys worked very hard. We had 2 cars up there. The team car actually had some issues in qualifying that required them to do extensive work. I think they cut down a tire, spun and there was something sticking out of the wall that grabbed the left rear tire that created a ton of damage. The guys really had to work hard to get that car back on the track. at hte end of the day those guys are working very hard. This was a great rebound for us. There were 2 or 3 races where we hadn't gotten the finishes we deserved. We've caught back up in points but at the end of the day you sit back and look at those 15 to 20 points we've given away of having a little nit of a failure at Dover and some bad circumstances that cost us positions under caution. We would be closer to the top 10 in points verses being in the 15th, 16th position."

I don't have a ton of road course experience and I had zero experience when I came to NASCAR but to me it really comes down to being consistent in your line and your shifting and taking care of your equipment. Sometimes it's easy to put down a fast lap but it's very difficult to put down a number of consistent fast laps. I don't always have that crazy lap that's going to put me on the top of the board but there's that fear that on the next lap you're going to wheel hop or slide off the track and do something that will create a mechanical failure. It's very easy to beat yourself and that gives your competition a leg up by doing so. That being said I just try to be consistent with my line and we were able to put pressure on some of the drivers and make them make the mistake first verses the other way around. Again it was a great top 5 finish and we're looking forward to this weekend's race in Kentucky. We're going down early for testing and that will give us the ability to try some things that we haven't been able to do at this point that will hopefully pick up our short track program and our mile and a half program on some of these rougher race tracks."

"This is the first time, other than Montreal, that I've had to in the rain. That was experience for us and now we have that under our belt so at Mid Ohio or Watkins Glen if we have rain issues we know some of the things we can do to make things better. The more I run with these guys the more comfortable I am with the more comfortable I am with making a call with the race car or talking it through with Steve. Those are the things that have made us really more successful now than earlier in the year. The chemistry is good which is a big, big help. Hopefully we can continue on this path and hopefully get a sponsor to really believe in us and see how truly good this program is and how they can get a return on their investment. With those additional funds we could make some big changes with the program to get a little ahead of the curve verses week to week like we are having to do right now."

"We've managed to do a great job and James has invested quite a bit in this program. We are continually doing better with 10 ten finishes and now a top 5. His goal is to be a successful owner and just wants to win races. Now if we can consistently run in the top ten we will put ourselves in the position to maybe sneak a win away from one of those big teams. I've got all the confidence in the world in my guys and between this weekend's race at Kentucky where I almost won my first race to Daytona the week after where anything can happen we're going to try to ride this momentum in to, hopefully victory lane."

Owner James Whitener has said he expects to win. The team wants that as much as James does. It's seems just a matter of time when you hear them speak. They know they can do it!

Somewhere in this great country there is a company that fits this team like a glove. Perhaps an established company in a certain geographical area has dreams of expanding to other parts of the country. NASCAR racing covers coast to coast. NASCAR fans number in the millions. With sponsorship like that this team and sponsor can roll into Victory Lann and right into millions of living rooms nation wide. And off season offers fantastic opportunities for driver appearances and fan "meets and greets". NASCAR fans are driver and sponsor loyal.

- See more at: http://www.catchfence.com/2014/nationwide/06/25/yeley-jgl-racing-finish-5th-road-america/#sthash.7fpPaNrP.dpuf

JGL Racing / JJ Yeley Finish 7th in the Nationwide Series at Talladega

Rarely are there great expectations, or successes, in newly formed race teams. Even some people with well known racing names face major difficulties in such a "start up" venture. The expense is astonishing therefore many simply don't make it without enough sponsorship to obtain and maintain the quality equipment and personnel needed to be competitive and profitable. And without "results" major media exposure fades to nothing, if it ever existed to begin with. It's all the nature of the beast, so to speak. Many of those teams are here one day and gone the next. We've all seen it happen time and time again, yet once in awhile an "underdog" causes a stir. The young guns this year definitely fall in that category! Most have a family name to help get them started, but results are necessary to continue and some are doing just that.

An underdog of a different sort, newly formed JGL Racing, is having more success than is common in a freshman year of NASCAR Nationwide competition. In December of last year James Whitener contacted Gregg Mixon about forming this team and they immediately began buying equipment, lining up key people and making plans to be race ready by Daytona 2014. Many people, in fact most people, said it couldn't happen, not enough time, but JGL made it happen! Daytona in less than 3 months? New Team? No sponsorship? What were they thinking? Yet with Mike Wallace behind the wheel of JGL's primary car, the #28 Dodge, he qualified 25th and finished 13th at Daytona. 27 cars would have liked this finish better than their own that day and regardless of Daytona's infamous attrition rate Mike and JGL Racing did what many said was the impossible! That was amazing and JGL Racing continues with that same determination.

JJ Yeley is now the primary driver of the #28 Dodge. He began with this team at the Las Vegas race and with equal determination and an amazing effort by all involved, he brought the #28 Dodge home in the 7th position at Talladega two weekends ago. I had to speak with him and I have to say I was very impressed. Judge for yourself.

"The first race I ran with JGL was in the #93 car at Las Vegas and everything went really well. I think we finished 21st. They had planned on bringing me back for a couple of races. In all the races I ran for them in the #93 car we ran extremely well. They had some discussions about making some changes and at that point decided to put me in their primary car. Since then it's been fantastic. I finished 7th at Talladega and we finished 14th at Darlington so for being involved with a very small, under funded new team, it has been a lot of fun for me. We're 16th in the points and if you look at the cars around us in the points you're looking at Roush cars and cars that have some kind of Cup affiliation, which again means a tremendous amount. Hopefully we can get some people to realize what a great opportunity being a part of JGL would be. A little bit of sponsorship would go a long way with these guys and would allow them to purchase some additional equipment and some things that we know would make the cars run better. At this point we don't even have the funds to do that.

"As a driver, and obviously I've been around a long time, I feel I'm a veteran but at the same time I don't put my self in that category as an older gentlemen. I've learned over the past 4 or 5 years, being with some smaller teams, how to get 100% out of the race car without putting myself in the position to tear up equipment. Obviously we don't have a lot of cars and tearing up race cars could mean we're not going to make it to the next track, so it's important that I understand that sometimes there's a difference in the risk factor of 14th versus 12th. Sometimes 14th is a safer chance so we can put the car back in the trailer, bring it to another race track and have another opportunity to race again. At the end of the day the difference between those 2 positions doesn't mean that much."

"James is a very excited owner and that makes this even more exciting for me. I think the shorter tracks are great for us because handling can be found with ingenuity and putting our heads together. Steve Platenberger is my crew chief and that guy works his tail off. We have seven guys at the shop who work their tails off, too, so it's kind of a throw back (to earlier times). Obviously we don't have the money that Penske, or other teams have to throw around so we have to be smart with the things we do as a team. If you look at the finishes we've had with me driving, and even with Mike Wallace at Daytona, we're competing against guys that have 20 times our budget and so many resources at their disposal. We'll see how things go at Iowa but we are all ready and looking for a good finish."

I also spoke with Gregg Mixon, General Manager of JGL Racing.

"We were starting from scratch trying to get everything together including right down to getting a building, a transporter, cars from Penske, 2 at a time, and trying to get all the Penske parts that we could. Even the cars were in pieces and we had to put them all together but we knew we were going to have great cars because these were carbon copies of the ones they won the championship with and we were already on the Dodge engine program. And I have to give all the credit for any success we've had, if you want to call it that, to the people we've hired. We have good people in place. With JJ as our driver and with good equipment there's no reason we can't be competitive. I'm very proud of the guys. They've done a great job and Talladega is, by far, our best finish. We've had 14th, 15th and 17th place finishes. too this year. but I'm looking forward to Iowa. It looks like a lot of the Cup guys won't be there so maybe it will be a little more of an even playing field with those guys not there. Maybe this is our weekend."

"I'm proud of the people we have in place. They know this business and they know their jobs. I have no dead weight. They all are working in the same direction. They all get along, which is very unusual. Everybody's got everybody's back. They never complain. It's all good and they are the reason we've run as well as we have. You would think we have all worked together for years, but that's not true. It's been since early December and some of them haven't been with us that long. The big teams can do this kind of stuff because they have multi people with multi money and all of that. But we're doing this as a small team and I can tell you I could quit today and tell everybody I'm proud of these guys. They really are doing a good job and we're not done. I am going to say, if nothing happens, if we don't get in a wreck and with JJ driving, we should have another top 10 in Iowa. That's just not me saying that. Everybody in the shop feels this way. That's a good feeling. It's a good feeling knowing we've got a chance like that."

And last, but certainly not least, I spoke with the very, very busy main man behind this team, James Whitener, who funds this team entirely. With little time to chat he went straight to the point. "We started this in December and at Daytona someone asked me what my goals are for this year. I told him I wanted to win. He laughed and said, "well what are your realistic goals"? I said I wanted to win. And I do. I don't need the money to live on so this is the best team for any company to sponsor. Everything they give us will go right into the team. We've got good equipment and good people and I want to go into 2015 with some wins. We can do it."

You know James, I believe you can do it too! If JGL Racing has accomplished all of this since December and have had some better finishes than some of the very well funded teams in the Nationwide Series, just think what sponsorship could truly do to improve their performance, not to mention the publicity that company would receive for wisely taking advantage of this opportunity! That seems it would be a win/win situation.

Thank God for underdogs. They keep this sport from becoming a little boring, as it has been, sometimes in the recent past with the same drivers up front week after week. To see a small team like this one accomplish everything they needed to do to make a 2 1/2 month deadline and to perform like this with what they have compared to the Gibbs, the Penskes and the Hendriks, etc. of this sport is truly worthy of attention in any NASCAR Nationwide news, in my opinion.

Catchfence prides itself in getting to know the people and the teams like this who are as responsible as the big guns, or even more so, for bringing public attention and affection to NASCAR. Keep an eye on this team. They are driven, pardon the pun. You just might find your self becoming a fan. I am.

Interested sponsors can contact James at GICJCW@aol.com or James@JGLRacing.com

FYI: Catchfence.com is proud to announce that JJ Yeley has agreed to provide race recaps this season. We look forward having him aboard.

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