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Joe Gibbs Racing signs JJ Yeley

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Joe Gibbs Racing signs JJ Yeley
Nov 14, 2005, 9:57 AM

YELEY TO DRIVE NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET AVONDALE, Ariz., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 -- J.J. Yeley will drive the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet during the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) officials announced ...

YELEY TO DRIVE NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET

AVONDALE, Ariz., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 -- J.J. Yeley will drive the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet during the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) officials announced Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I'm very excited for this opportunity," Yeley said. "Obviously, the No. 18 Interstate Batteries car has a lot of history to it and, hopefully, I can add to that. I'm looking forward to representing Interstate Batteries and Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006."

Yeley, a Phoenix native, drove the No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet for JGR in a partial Busch Series schedule in 2004 before moving to full-time in 2005. He has four top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in his Busch Series career. Yeley also has six career NEXTEL Cup starts, all with JGR, and will compete for the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year title against one of the deepest lineups in ROY history; a lineup that also includes JGR teammate Denny Hamlin.

Yeley, 29, is one of only two drivers to win the United States Auto Club "Triple Crown," in the same season. In 2003, Yeley scored more than 20 feature wins en route to titles in the USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions. His JGR teammate, Tony Stewart, accomplished the "Triple Crown" in 1995.

"J.J. has shown tremendous talent and driving ability throughout his career," said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. "He has worked very hard over the past two years, and we look forward to him having a lot of success in the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet."

The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet is one of the most recognizable cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500 in the car in 1993, while Bobby Labonte piloted the car to victories in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Southern 500 at Darlington in 2000. Labonte also won a championship in the No. 18 in 2000. Since the No. 18 team's first race in 1992, it has been to victory lane 23 times and has 128 top-five and 218 top-10 finishes. The team has also won 21 Bud Poles.

"We're very excited to have J.J. drive the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet next season," said Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries. "He's obviously a very talented driver, and we look forward to having a lot of success with him."

Yeley becomes the third full-time driver to pilot the famed No. 18 Interstate Batteries car. Dale Jarrett drove the car from 1992-94, while Bobby Labonte has spent the past 11 seasons behind the wheel, from 1995-2005.

Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, fielding three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams for drivers J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) and two NASCAR Busch Series teams, one of which Yeley will continue to compete in (the No. 18 Vigoro/The Home Depot Chevrolet) and Hamlin's (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet).

Based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Joe Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and current coach of the Washington Redskins, the team has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning two of the last five Cup Series championships and more than 40 NASCAR races, including the 1993 Daytona 500 and the 2000 and 2005 Brickyard 400.

-jgr-

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