JJ Yeley flips out of Chili Bowl Nationals alphabet soup

JJ Yeley could only advance to the L-Main on Saturday during the Chili Bowl Nationals.PHOTO BY MATT WEAVER


The USAC and NASCAR ace was forced to start from the O-Main


If you can’t win the show, be the show.

That was surely the mantra for JJ Yeley who was forced to start the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals from the O-Main but was ultimately eliminated in the L-Main after a flip with two laps remaining. He was in third place at the time and poised to advance to his fourth feature but simply reached the end of the figurative road.

He wheel-hopped in the corner, trying to make a pass and flipped into the fence, ending his day.

After winning his O and N and finishing third in his M, everything went wrong in the L. He spun on the first lap, got held up behind the transfer spot in traffic and ultimately flipped after racing his way well into a transfer spot.

But he needed the spot.

“I think it was going to get harder and harder to advance from the back,” Yeley said afterwards. “The bottom had so much moisture and the top was really crumbly. The problem you run into here is the time restraints and not having the time to get into the top five. I wish I had made it further, but it is what it is.”

Yeley said the track was really narrow early in the morning, which didn’t aid his efforts and created tighter racing.

“The preferred line was not the top, it was the bottom, but when you gotta pass, you gotta pass,” Yeley said. “The pace in that main was a lot slower than I had seen all day.”

Yeley was forced to start the Chili Bowl from the O because he was disqualified from his Wednesday night heat for failing to stop at the fuel inspection station. He had thought he was being waved on through. His Wednesday went from bad to worse when he flipped in his qualifier.

That left him with minimal passing points.

But with that said, he still enjoyed the process of going up the hill and back down the hill for four consecutive mains on Saturday morning.

“You have to take the bad with the good,” Yeley said. “This is what happens when you put yourself in a bad position. The year that I came from so far back and set a record, there are so many things that come with that like lucky breaks and cautions. I had no expectations, except I was going to be in the first race of the morning and just keep going out there and take it as far as I could go.”

Yeley intends to make his 25th Chili Bowl attempt next season, but says he needs to make more Midget starts throughout the year to be more prepared for January.

“I want to make a couple of more starts this year, definitely the BC race (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) because these guys are so good nowadays,” he said. “You can’t just show up here and be at the top of your game.”