Yeley, Robbie Gordon Hit Wall During Brickyard Qualifying

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- J.J. Yeley should have headed to the pits a lap sooner.

As he came out of the fourth turn during a practice run for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Yeley turned toward the pit entrance. His No. 18 Chevrolet didn't cooperate.

``It really caught me by surprise,'' said Yeley, whose car went loose and spun into the wall. ``I was already on the throttle at that point and winding the wheel to get to the exit. The car got sideways. I thought I had it saved for a minute. I just couldn't keep the car caught up.''

Yeley hit the wall hard with the left side of the car.

Other than a sore elbow, he was OK.

The only other spins during practice before Saturday's qualifications were by David Gilliland, who went sideways through the first turn but avoided contact with the wall, and Robby Gordon, who hit the outside retaining wall with the right side of his car but was able to drive back to Gasoline Alley.

Gordon was not injured.


Sunday's race will be the 800th career start for Kyle Petty, sixth-most in NASCAR history but still almost 400 behind his father's series record.

``Hard to believe I have been around that long,'' said the 47-year-old driver, whose first race was in 1979.

``I think it says that I'm old and I've been here for a long time. I think that's about all it really says,'' he said. ``But it's been cool.''

His father, Richard Petty, made 1,185 career starts. The only others with more than 800 are Dave Marcis (883), Ricky Rudd (894), Terry Labonte (849) and Darell Waltrip (809). Besides Kyle Petty, only Rudd and Labonte are still active.

Kyle Petty's best finishes in 12 previous starts at Indianapolis were 13th in 1997 and 2005.

``You know for me it would probably mean more to have it at Rockingham, where I won some races, just to be totally honest with you,'' Petty said of his milestone race. ``But it's cool to have it at a place like this. This here is an event. This is a huge event. ... To have an event like that (800th) take place at an event like this is pretty special.''


Paul Menard moved up eight places in the Nextel Cup points race and earned a spot in Sunday's race without turning a lap.

With the merger this week of Ginn Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Inc., DEI driver Menard took over the entry -- and inherited the owner points -- for the fired Sterling Marlin.

NASCAR guarantees starting spots for the top 35, and the merger automatically moved Menard from 38th to 30th.

``First off, we can go race now. We're locked in,'' Menard said. ``The start of the year we were obviously outside top 35, and it was a huge struggle to get in. We had to focus so much on qualifying, it obviously hurt our race performance.''

The merged team also includes DEI drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr., and Mark Martin, who drove for Ginn.

``I told Mark the other night I was going to pick his brain,'' Menard said. ``He's a living legend, and I'm going to use him to the best I can. Like I said, we're going to go race now, and we can hopefully move up in points.''


The Brickyard will be the first NASCAR Cup race telecast on ESPN in seven years.

The network aired 262 races from 1981 to 2000 but lost out in a 2001 contract that split the season between NBC, Fox and TNT. A new contract this year split the 36-race season among ABC/ESPN, Fox and TNT.

``I'm so excited to be here, it's unreal. I've practiced for this moment,'' said ESPN announcer Rusty Wallace, a former driver who raced at Indy 12 times and was part of the ESPN broadcast team for the Indy 500 the past two years.

Brent Musburger will host ESPN's coverage, with Jerry Punch providing the play-by-play and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulling double-duty as an in-car race reporter.


Bill Elliott, the 2002 Brickyard winner, has completed 2,080 of a possible 2,081 laps in the 13-year history of the race. The only other driver running at the finish each year is Jeff Burton. ... James Denton, a star of ABC's ``Desperate Housewives,'' will wave the green starting flag Sunday. ... The Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radial tire combination -- D-4100 on the left side and D-4102 on the right -- was tested at Indianapolis in April by Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd. Indy is the only race using this setup this season. Goodyear estimates the tires will last 36 to 38 laps, meaning cars would likely need five stops for new tires to finish Sunday's 160-lap race. ... The Richard Childress Racing cars of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Scott Wimmer will carry Wake Forest decals in memory of the late Demon Deacons basketball coach Skip Prosser, who died Thursday. The Childress headquarters in Welcome, N.C., is 14 miles south of the Wake Forest campus. ... Seven Nextel Cup drivers -- Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, David Reutimann, Scott Wimmer and J.J. Yeley -- were also entered in the Busch Series race Saturday night at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park. ... Longtime motorsports journalist Lewis Franck received the annual Lifetime Achievement Award from the Driver of the Year Foundation.

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