NASCAR: 19-year veteran set to return to Cup Series after all

J.J. Yeley failed to qualify for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. But he is set to compete in the series for a 20th year after all.
J.J. Yeley, NY Racing Team, Daytona 500, NASCAR
J.J. Yeley, NY Racing Team, Daytona 500, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

J.J. Yeley wasn't sure what his NASCAR future held this past offseason, and when he ruled out a return to Rick Ware Racing, citing the fact that he didn't necessarily feel like he needed to compete in the Cup Series to make himself feel successful, a Cup Series return didn't appear all that likely.

The 19-year Cup Series veteran's focus had shifted to trying to land a competitive Xfinity Series ride for the 2024 season.

Given the fact that Yeley had been one of Rick Ware Racing's primary Cup Series drivers for the last several seasons, it was beginning to look like the 2024 season could be his first season with no starts in the series since 2016.

J.J. Yeley back for 20th NASCAR Cup Series season?

But just days before Daytona 500 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway, NY Racing Team confirmed that they would be fielding their No. 44 Chevrolet. Hours before qualifying began, Yeley was confirmed as that driver.

Yeley, however, faced an uphill battle just to qualify for the race and make the 2024 season his 20th season of Cup Series competition, given the fact that the No. 44 Chevrolet was one of six non-charter entries and only four could get into the 40-car field.

The 47-year-old Phoenix, Arizona native needed to race his way in via the Bluegreen Vacations Duels after failing to get in on speed, and he almost pulled it off. He was passed by Legacy Motor Club's Jimmie Johnson on the final lap of the first Duel race, preventing him from making what would have been his first Daytona 500 start since 2015.

Yeley has now failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 in three straight attempts (2020, 2022, and 2024). However, the 2024 season is indeed set to become his 20th career Cup Series season -- and eighth in a row going back to 2017.

NY Racing Team returning with J.J. Yeley

NY Racing Team have entered the No. 44 Chevrolet in this coming Sunday afternoon's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Yeley is listed as the driver. This car is the only non-charter car on the entry list, meaning that all 37 drivers entered are locked into the race.

Yeley competed in both races at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Las Vegas, Nevada oval last year for Rick Ware Racing and finished in 33rd and 29th place.

Yeley also did manage to land an Xfinity Series ride and made his season debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend, finishing in 24th place behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet for SS-Green Light Racing. He is set to drive the same car again for the team this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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The Pennzoil 400 is set to be shown live on Fox from Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting at 3:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, March 3. Start a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!