Yeley Moves Up

AVONDALE, Az. - Tony Stewart will be Joe Gibbs Racing's senior member next season.

JGR named J.J. Yeley as driver of its Interstate Batteries Chevrolet next season, replacing Bobby Labonte who will leave at the end of the year to join Petty Enterprises.

Yeley joins teammate and fellow rookie Denny Hamlin who got the call from Gibbs to move up from the Busch Series to drive the team's FedEx No. 11 Chevrolet.

The Arizona native, who started in open wheel racing before making the move to stock cars, is anxious to start on the next level of his career.

"This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and I can't thank Joe Gibbs Racing enough for the opportunities they have given me," Yeley said. "For this announcement to come at my home track in my hometown is especially exciting and I can't wait to get my full-time NEXTEL Cup career started."

In addition to his full-time NEXTEL Cup slate, Yeley will also compete in the Busch Series again next season. But while teammate Hamlin will run the full Busch schedule along with the Cup slate, Yeley will make approximately 20-25 Busch starts.

"We're working on sponsorship right now but we expect J.J.'s Busch slate to be approximately in that number," said JGR's president J.D. Gibbs.

When asked whether he was nervous having two rookie drivers on his NEXTEL Cup team next season, Gibbs responded, "Not really. It's better than having me and my brother driving the cars," referring to the short-lived racing careers of he and brother Coy Gibbs.

Yeley will shoot for a Busch win Saturday in his third career series start at PIR when he takes the green flag from the 21st starting position.

"I always enjoy going back to Phoenix to race," he said. "It's awesome to see the growth in the Phoenix area in general, but it's really cool to see the growth of NASCAR fans in the area. NASCAR has done a great job in bringing our sport to different areas of the country. There is a large population base to pull from in the Phoenix area, and now that there are two NASCAR weekends at PIR, the fan base will continue to grow and grow. Being a Phoenix native, that's just incredible to see."

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