By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a tale of two Bluegreen Duel races, both of the MBM Motorsports Ford Mustangs failed to qualify for the 2022 Daytona 500.
In the first Duel race, it appeared that J.J. Yeley’s No. 55 Hex.com Ford Mustang was in a comfortable position. For much of the race, the veteran driver was a lap ahead of Kaz Grala’s No. 50 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. However, a miscue when letting the leaders by in the closing laps sealed Yeley’s fate.
While drafting with Daniel Hemric and B.J. McLeod, the trio moved up. Hemric attempted to allow the two Fords to swing by. The time that Yeley lost ultimately allowed the pack that Grala was in to catch him. In Turn 1 on the final lap of Duel 1, The Money Team Racing car swung by to take the spot for the Open teams, bumping the NASCAR Cup Series veteran out of the Daytona 500.
“We were about three quarters of a second faster following the 16, running good lap times, and at that point I thought we were really safe,” explained Yeley. “When the leaders were coming to us, the 16 wanted to go up to let them go by. He got back down, but we lost more than a second. That was enough to drag us back to that Chevy pack where Kaz was able to get a run on us.
“They were going so much faster than us that I wasn’t going to jump down in front of them and do something stupid. Just a huge heartbreak and disappointment for Hex.com. It looked like we were in good shape and then had the run pulled out from under them. I felt like we were in good shape but just watching lap times and what Hemric was doing, it took me two laps to come to the realization that he was slowing down trying to let me go down the back straightaway.”
The disappointment of JJ Yeley after being passed by Kaz Grala on the final lap, leaving Yeley out of the Daytona 500 field. pic.twitter.com/OcGrVJWkUc
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 18, 2022
The second race was a bit grueling for the Carl Long-owned MBM Motorsports operation. Timmy Hill started behind the only other Open car that had to make the field through the Duel races, Greg Biffle. Just laps into the race, Hill’s No. 66 Bumper.com Ford Mustang lost the draft. With no help, it was impossible for the journeyman driver to recover.
By the time the checkered flag waved for the end of the second Duel race, Hill was four laps down. Even with the race ending under caution, he was three laps behind the NY Racing driver.
The 2022 Daytona 500 marks the second consecutive year that both of the MBM Motorsports cars had failed to qualify for the Daytona 500. Last year both Hill and Garrett Smithley failed to qualify for ‘The Great American Race.’
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.