TULSA, OK -- If you wanted to see J.J. Yeley race in the 2019 Chili Bowl on Saturday, you had to get up early.
A series of unfortunate circumstances on his preliminary night—including a disqualification for failing to stop for fuel inspection and a subsequent wreck—relegated the driver of the No. 2J midget racer to the first O-main on Saturday morning, the first event of the day that will decide this year’s champion.
Yeley started sixth in the O-Main, streaked to the front and won the race. Starting 11th in the subsequent N-Main, Yeley again charged forward and took the checkered flag. In the M-Main he ran third to claim one of the six transfer positions into the L-Main.
But there his day—and his 2019 Chili Bowl—came to an end with a wreck, after Yeley had moved into a transfer position. Nevertheless, Yeley was upbeat after his elimination.
“I didn’t really have any high expectations, because I’ve never been in this bad a situation coming into the Chili Bowl,” said Yeley, who has qualified for the A-Main eight times and boasts a best finish of second in 2007. “So I tried to be patient every race and take my time, not get in a rush the way I did on my preliminary night.
“I got there to the L, got to a transfer spot, bicycled running the bottom. I was adjusting the car based off the previous race. You had to be on the bottom—that’s where the grip was. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the bottom, because I was passing cars. So slowing down, trying to roll the bottom, I bicycled and gave up the transfer spot, got back in a hurry, got back into the transfer spot, trying to get past a car that was struggling on the bottom.
“The closing rate was a lo faster than I expected, and more or less, it was a little bit of an issue or stupidity on my part, I got into him, did a little bit of a wheelie and then turned the car real hard—tried to knock the fence down. Certainly not the day I wanted or the week I wanted coming to Chili Bowl.”
Even through he was starting in the O-Main, Yeley could feel the energy in the crowd at the Tulsa Expo Center.
“Unfortunately, the fans had to show up early to watch me race,” Yeley said. “There are probably some people who are still in bed from last night’s partying.
“But I could hear the crowd cheering after the race as you’re rolling off the back straightaway. That’s awesome, and that’s what makes this race special.”
NOTE: To hear more of what Yeley had to say about his Chili Bowl run in a podcast with Lee Spencer, click the link below: https://www.youtube.