Yeley Captures First Career Pole

Starting Lineup J.J. Yeley, driving the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, says that if you look up "Race Track" in the dictionary, "it should have a picture of Michigan International Speedway." If you now look up “polesitter” for the Citizens Bank 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at MIS on Sunday, you'll probably see a picture of J.J. Yeley following his first career NEXTEL Cup pole Friday with a speed of 187.505 miles per hour. That's five-thousandths of a second faster than Jimmie Johnson, one of the day’s final qualifiers. Kyle Busch, the odd-man-out at Hendrick Motorsports when it was announced earlier this week that he would be replaced by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., starting next year, was almost odd-man-in. He grabbed the early pole position with a speed of 186.829 mph, which held up for third fastest of the afternoon. Ryan Newman posted the fourth fastest time, followed by Joe Nemechek and current NEXTEL Cup points leader Jeff Gordon. Yeley, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing along with Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, gave Gibbs his fifth pole at Michigan, all in the No. 18 car. “We had an excellent car that was fourth fastest in practice and we spent a lot of time just focusing on qualifying,” said Yeley, who is coming off a recent career-best second-place finish last month in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. “It was just enough to get the pole, but like my dad says, 'Whoever gets there first wins,’ so it’s going to be a lot of fun leading the field to the green flag on Sunday. I love coming to his place. It’s a lot of fun. It’s big, it’s fast and I just really love it.” In regard to time, Yeley, starting his second full season on the NEXTEL Cup circuit, registered a time (38.399 seconds) that was just one-thousandth of a second ahead of Johnson. “I missed the pole by a short, short margin. I don’t win many poles during the course of a season or throughout my career, so I hate to see a good opportunity slide by. I would have met my quota for the year and I would have been in good shape. I know I’m a better driver in race conditions than out there by myself trying to find a 10th of a second somewhere.” Johnson has captured one pole in each of the last three seasons and a total of nine career poles. While MIS has always been considered Ford friendly, it was Chevrolet that was dominant in qualifying Friday, capturing the top three positions and eight of the top nine spots. The top Ford was driven by Carl Edwards, who qualified 12th. Among the seven drivers who didn’t qualify was Dale Jarrett, a four-time winner at MIS.

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