NASCAR: 19-year veteran returning to Cup Series after all

J.J. Yeley is set to attempt to qualify for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, doing so with NY Racing Team.

J.J. Yeley, NY Racing Team, NASCAR
J.J. Yeley, NY Racing Team, NASCAR / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

Last month, it was revealed that J.J. Yeley would not be returning to Rick Ware Racing, where he had been one of their primary drivers over the last six years, for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.

With Rick Ware Racing's No. 15 Ford being one of only two charter entries set to be shared throughout the 2024 season, the other being Kaulig Racing's No. 16 Chevrolet, Yeley ruling out a return to Rick Ware's team all but eliminated any chance for him to compete at NASCAR's top level.

Yeley had even stated that he didn't need to be a Cup Series driver to make himself "feel good or accomplished or anything", and he admitted that his focus had shifted to the Xfinity Series.

Yeley back in NASCAR Cup Series after all

But Yeley does not have a ride for the 2024 Xfinity Series season, and NY Racing Team, where he competed in select races back in 2014 (and one in 2018), added their No. 44 Chevrolet to the entry list for the 2024 Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Just hours before qualifying for Sunday's "Great American Race" at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval, it was announced that Yeley is set to pilot the No. 44 Chevrolet.

It is worth mentioning that this development does not guarantee that Yeley will compete in the Cup Series this season. The No. 44 Chevrolet is one of six non-charter cars on the entry list for the Daytona 500, and only four are able to lock into the 40-car field. The 36 charter cars are all locked in.

A list of the six non-charter entries (and their drivers) can be found here.

Yeley has not competed in the Daytona 500 since 2015, though he unsuccessfully attempted to qualify in both 2020 and 2022. He has competed in the Cup Series in some capacity in every year going back to 2004, except for 2016. Any starts this year would make the 2024 season his 20th season in the series and eighth in a row going back to 2017.

He must lock himself into the Daytona 500 field either via the single-car qualifying session (tonight at 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1) or the Bluegreen Vacations Duels (tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1). Two non-charter entries are set to lock in each day, leaving the other two on the outside looking in.

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The 66th annual Daytona 500 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 18. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so today!