J.J. Yeley is returning to the Monster Energy Cup Series and Rick Ware Racing. On Wednesday, the team announced the NASCAR veteran would make his first NASCAR start of 2019 in Sunday’s Pocono 400, driving the #52 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with Steakhouse Elite sponsorship.
“I am excited to be back in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car at Pocono Raceway,” Yeley said in a release. “Steakhouse Elite has been a great partner over the years and I can’t thank them enough for coming on board this weekend.”
Before the 2019 season, Yeley was expected to run various races for NY Racing Team, for whom he had run the 2018 Coca-Cola 600, but the team has yet to make a start. Team owner John Cohen has worked with Ware during 2019, with Steakhouse Elite also being a sponsor of NY Racing’s; the two partnered with RWR for April’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, where Bayley Currey drove the #52 Steakhouse Elite car to a thirty-second-place run.
In 2018, Yeley made his first start for RWR at Darlington Raceway, where he piloted the #52 to thirty-first. The Arizona native ran much of the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule that year with RSS Racing and finished twenty-eighth in points, but did not return to the team for 2019.
Since the 2018 Coca-Cola 600, Steakhouse Elite has sponsored a Cup car in nine races, with Yeley driving eight of them for NY Racing, Premium Motorsports, and BK Racing/Front Row Motorsports. Yeley’s two Pocono starts in 2018 came in a Steakhouse Elite car, finishing thirty-second and twenty-eighth. The New York-based company is also a partner of track operator International Speedway Corporation.
As the #52 possesses a charter, he will be guaranteed a spot in the race. In the first 13 races of 2019, the car was split between Currey, Cody Ware, B.J. McLeod, Jeb Burton, and Stanton Barrett, with all but Barrett also running races for RWR’s #51 and #53 teams. The #52 is currently thirty-ninth in the owners’ points.
In 18 career Cup starts at Pocono, Yeley’s best finish is eleventh in 2006 for Joe Gibbs Racing.