Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fast Facts: J.J. Yeley



Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
 J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 36 Chevrolet SS for Tommy Baldwin Racing, has an extensive background in open-wheel racing, including a start in the Indianapolis 500 in 1998. Learn more about this former USAC champion – and what his real name is (hint: it doesn’t begin with ‘J’) – in this week’s Fast Facts.


  • Christopher Beltram Hernandez Yeley was born October 5, 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. His nickname “J.J.” comes from his father, Jimmy, and a close family friend, Jack. Yeley began racing at age 14, first in quarter midgets, then moving to the Sprint Cars, Midgets and Silver Crown cars of the USAC Racing Series. In 1997, Yeley was named USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year.
  • In 1998, a 21-year-old Yeley made his Indy Racing League debut at his home track, Phoenix international Raceway; later that year, he qualified 13th for the Indy 500, finishing ninth. He made a total of eight starts in the series in 1998 and 2000, but funding led him back to USAC. From 2001 to 2003, Yeley won five USAC titles: 2001 and 2003 Sprint Car, 2002 and 2003 Silver Crown and 2003 Midget. His “Triple Crown” win in 2003 was just the second time a driver won all three USAC titles in one season – the first was Tony Stewart in 1995; Stewart owned Yeley’s Sprint and Silver Crown cars in 2003, and the Midget Yeley drove was driven by Stewart in 1995. On his way to the “Triple Crown,” Yeley won 24 USAC events, eclipsing the previous record of 19 held by the legendary A.J. Foyt.
  • Yeley ran a part-time Busch (now Nationwide) Series schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2004, and also made two Sprint Cup Series starts in the team’s No. 11 car. In 2005, he competed full-time in the Busch Series for JGR, finishing 11th in points; he moved up to the No. 18 Cup Series ride in 2006, and also drove full-time in the Busch Series, finishing fifth in points.
  • In his NASCAR career (through 2012), Yeley has made 167 starts in the Cup Series, with eight top 10 finishes, and 140 starts in the Nationwide Series, earning 39 top 10s; he has also made 13 Camping World Truck Series starts, with one top 10 finish.
  • Learn more about J.J. Yeley at www.jjyeley.com and tommybaldwinracing.com.

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