NASCAR

Yeley's confidence, chances to win grow

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

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Confidence is an overlooked and underestimated commodity in Nextel Cup racing. As I mentioned briefly last week, J.J. Yeley's confidence is growing with each race.

On Sunday morning at Las Vegas, No. 18 crew chief Steve Addington told me why J.J. Yeley has improved in both his Busch and Cup cars. He said the 18 team has struggled for three years so he sat down with Yeley and said, "People are overlooking us. Let's just have fun and do this the way we want to do it. The job is yours. You're not going to lose your job. Do what you know how to do which is race." Yeley looked at tapes of last year's Busch Series races and realized that he had been putting himself in bad positions. Addington said that when Yeley had a 7th-place racecar, he would ruin a top-10 finish by trying to take 6th or 5th. It's not that he doesn't want to win, but he has to learn not to put his car in a bad spot trying to move up. It was a revelation to Yeley he said he had to use his head a little bit more so that he would be there at the end.

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The team has rallied around Yeley who is a pretty funny guy that keeps things loose. During the Las Vegas Busch race, he cracked up the crew by telling them what he wanted for dinner. After struggling last year, the 18 team has been all smiles. If they hadn't had a loose wheel in the Vegas Cup race, he would have gone to the front. The way they were running, I'm not going to say that he would have won the race, but they would have served notice that they were for real. Yeley seems to like fast racetracks, and although he only has one Atlanta start, I don't see any reason why they can't continue to finish in the top 10 mainly because they feel like they can. And confidence is everything.


NASCAR on FOX and SPEED Channel host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years, and he gives kids a close look at a real stock car and its driver with Ryan's Racecar, a 30-minute video/DVD. For more information, go to RyansRacecar.com

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