NASCAR’s JJ Yeley – From Boy to Superstar

NASCAR’s JJ Yeley – From Boy to Superstar

The second-generation racer, J. J Yeley is the son of “Cactus” Jack Yeley, says that the first race he went to was when he was three weeks old and was constantly on the road with his father, going from one track to another on the West Coast and Midwest. Born on October 5th, 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona, the proud father of Fatih Anne and husband of Kristen was born and bred for the sport. He was always sitting in the grandstands by the time he was seven to cheer his father on as his car zoomed by. Once J.J was old enough to help out in his father’s race team, J.J picked up many beneficial experiences and watched how his father conducted himself on and off the pit. J.J was able to work the insides and the outsides of the car early on which is a valuable asset to any young aspiring racer.

J.J began racing when he was 10 where he took part in the Arizona Quarter Midget Racing Association. Because of a forged birth certificate, he started racing midgets at age 14 and became the youngest driver to apply and receive a United States Auto Club (USAC) license. At age 19, he became the youngest driver in Sprint Car Racing Association to win a non-wing sprint car race at the Silver Dollar Speedway in California. He went on winning in the SCRA in 1996 and his golden ticket arrived when he was 21 in the IRL Indy Car Series. His debut at the Phoenix International Raceway paved the way for him to run the Indianapolis 500 where he started at 13th and ended in the ninth place. Even though he was participating in more IRL events that year, he decided to shift his attention to building a career in USAC as he was not receiving any funds from racing in the IRL.

J.J Yeley won his first USAC Sprint Car Series Championship in 2001 but that was nothing compared to what was in store for him 2003. He pulled off 24 USAC wins in a single season which broke the legend A.J. Foyt’s record in 1961 with 19 races. J.J also went on to become the second driver in USAC to win the Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown Championship in one season. 2002 was his fondest year as the wins that he had successfully captured would propel him to the great year that 2003 was. In 2004, he was approached to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing.

J.J biggest opportunity happened in 2005 when he had to replace his teammate, Tony Stewart, in the Chicagoland Speedway. His performance gained the recognition of his peers and everyone could see that he was ready to rev it up with the big guns in the big leagues. He was then selected to run the 2006 NEXTEL Cup full time. Although he had a good season in 2006, it was nothing compared to the previous seasons. J.J, however, is taking all this in his stride and plans to make an impact in the next season. He is optimistic that he will be able to learn from his previous mistakes and better himself. There are times that J.J is amazed how much he has achieved. The 16 year old Yeley was happy racing sprint Cars and never dreamed that he would be racing in NASCAR or race in the Indianapolis 500.

Besides racing, J.J volunteers regularly with several fundraisers such as events for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He realizes the importance of children in our future with the presence of his young daughter, Faith. The Yeley family resides in North Carolina to be close to the tracks.