Yeley to replace Cook at Darlington

Terry Cook is out. J.J. Yeley is in.

Yeley, a former USAC champion who has competed in all three of NASCAR's top-tier series, will attempt to race his way into Saturday’s Southern 500 Sprint Cup event at Darlington Raceway in the No. 46 Dodge for Whitney Motorsports, the team announced this week. According to his website, Yeley will pilot the No. 46 for two races, Darlington and possibly Charlotte, with the potential for more dates to be added.

Yeley replaces Terry Cook, a contender for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year who qualified the No. 46 entry for just three of the first 10 races of the 2010 season.

On his Facebook page Sunday night, Cook announced he "is no longer with Whitney Motorsports effective immediately. Terry, who has been serving as Team Manager/Driver, was uncomfortable with the direction that the team was heading towards and opted to leave the team."

Cook finished 37th at Bristol, 34th at Phoenix and 39th at Richmond.

“We are committed to the Sprint Cup Series," team owner Dusty Whitney said in a prepared statement. "I am also committed to making whatever changes needed to improve the team, whether it’s equipment, personnel, or anything else that is needed.”

Yeley returns to Sprint Cup competition after breaking three vertebrae in an open wheel wreck last August. In February he competed in the Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona, finishing in the 10th spot.

His last attempt at a Sprint Cup race was nearly a year ago, when he failed to qualify Jeremy Mayfield's No. 41 Toyota at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Yeley expressed his excitement about his Cup return on Twitter. "I just had a great call. It looks like I will be driving the # 46 cup car starting at Darlington starting this weekend," he tweeted Monday.

He elaborated in a team press release. “They’ve asked me to come in and help evaluate their equipment and hopefully I can give them some good feedback and we can make some races and show some of the potential sponsors they’re talking to that Whitney Motorsports is here to stay and we’re doing everything we can to build it into a competitive team that’s here for the long run," he said.

Yeley, who has driven for Joe Gibbs Racing and Hall of Fame Racing, has two top-5 and seven top-10 finishes in 95 career Sprint Cup Series starts. His best career finish was second at Charlotte in May 2007. In the Nationwide Series, he has 13 top 5s and 39 top 10s in 118 starts.

He won the trifecta of USAC championships, Silver Crown, Sprint Car and Midget, in 2003.

Yeley to replace Cook at Darlington Yeley to replace Cook at Darlington Reviewed by Rebecca Kivak on Wednesday, May 05, 2010 Rating: 5