Biography of Christopher Beltram Hernandez
Christopher Beltram Hernandez is an American professional stock car racing driver. Nicknamed “J. J.” (Jimmy Jack; after his father and a close family friend), he currently competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the Nos. 52 and 54 for Rick Ware Racing and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro for Jimmy Means Racing. J. J. Yeley is one of only six drivers ever to win the USAC Triple Crown which includes the likes of Pancho Carter, Tony Stewart, Dave Darland, Jerry Coons Jr., and Tracy Hines.
Christopher Beltram Hernandez won the 1997 edition of Indiana Sprintweek and captured the Rookie of the Year Award in the USAC National Sprint Car Series despite starting relatively few races. In 1998, Christopher Beltram Hernandez competed in four Indy Racing League (IRL) races, including the Indianapolis 500. His one top-10 finish in these four races was at Indianapolis, where he finished 9th despite a spin on the first turn of the first lap, which nearly collected eventual race winner Eddie Cheever, Jr.
Christopher Beltram Hernandez also raced in the IRL in 2000 in an underfunded effort with McCormack Motorsports, but ultimately returned to USAC racing, picking up where he had left off by winning 2001 and 2003 National Sprint, 2002 and 2003 Silver Crown, and 2003 National Midget Series titles.
His championships in all three of USAC’s top divisions in 2003 made him only the second driver, after Tony Stewart in 1995, to achieve the “Triple Crown” in a single season. Stewart was the owner of the Sprint and Silver Crown cars in Yeley’s 2003 season; the Midget which Christopher Beltram Hernandez drove in 2003, Steve Lewis’ No. 9, had been driven by Stewart in 1995. Yeley scored 24 USAC wins in his 2003 season, breaking the previous record of 19 set by A. J. Foyt in 1961 and later tied by Sleepy Tripp (1988) and Jay Drake (2000).
As had Stewart, Yeley signed with Joe Gibbs Racing, starting 17 of 34 races in the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series and achieving four Top 10 finishes. He also competed in two Nextel Cup Series races in No. 11 car and in the IROC series. Christopher Beltram Hernandez drove the full season in 2005 in the NASCAR Busch Series for Gibbs’ No. 18 car, posting twelve top-ten finishes and ending the season 11th in points. After the departure of Jason Leffler, who drove the No. 11 car in the Nextel Cup series, Yeley, Busch Series teammate Denny Hamlin, and Terry Labonte split the remaining races.
Yeley drove four races, Labonte and Hamlin drove the final seven. Hamlin was named to drive the No. 11 FedEx-sponsored car for the 2006 season. Bobby Labonte made his announcement in November that he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing. On November 12, at Phoenix International Raceway, Yeley was announced as the new driver for the No. 18 Interstate Batteries-sponsored Chevrolet.
Yeley ran full seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series in 2006. He drove the No. 18 Chevy in the Nextel Cup Series, and the No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot-sponsored Chevrolet in the Busch Series. Yeley’s best Nextel Cup finishes of 2006 came at California Speedway and Loudon, where he finished eighth; his best Busch Series finish came on June 17 at Kentucky Speedway. Yeley finished his 2006 season fifth in the Busch Series points standings with three poles, nine Top 5’s, and 22 top-10s.
In the 2006 Bank of America 500, Yeley was running on the top of the track when he decided to cut down down the track to try to go to pit road. He ran right into Chase contender Mark Martin, and turned Mark head-on into the wall in a devastating crash. Martin’s crew chief Pat Tryson had to be restrained by NASCAR officials as he showed his displeasure to Yeley, who also wrecked. The crash ended Mark Martin’s championship hopes, as he was second in points before the incident. Despite racing for one of the best teams in the sport, Yeley would finish a dismal 29th in the points standings.
His 2007 season was filled with rumors about being released from Joe Gibbs Racing. At the 2007 Coca-Cola 600, Yeley scored a career-high second-place finish on a fuel gamble, with Casey Mears scoring the victory. Exactly three weeks later, at Michigan, Yeley took his first career pole at the Nextel Cup level, beating Jimmie Johnson by one-thousandth of a second (.001). During the middle of the 2007 season Joe Gibbs announced that his team would be switching to Toyota in 2008. Gibbs also announced that Yeley would not return for 2008. Gibbs ended up signing Kyle Busch to drive the No. 18.
Yeley moved to Hall of Fame Racing, an affiliate of JGR, replacing Tony Raines in the No. 96 DLP-sponsored Toyota. His struggles continued, as the team fell from being in the Top 35 every week with Raines behind the wheel to struggling to make races weekly (the team’s first DNQ came with Yeley behind the wheel).
- Full Name: Christopher Beltram Hernandez Yeley
- Birth Place: October 5, 1976
- Age: 43
- Birth Place: Phoenix, Arizona
- Achievements: 2003 USAC Triple Crown Champion, 2002, 2003 USAC Silver Crown Series Champion, 2001, 2003 USAC National Sprint Car Championship Champion, 2003 USAC National Midget Championship Champion
- Awards: 1997 USAC National Sprint Car Championship Rookie of the Year, 2002, 2003 Non-Winged Driver of the Year from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame
- Spouse: Kristen Yeley
- Current teams: Ford Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing manufacturer team, etc.
- Children: Faith Anne
- Net Worth: Unknown
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Reference J.J Yeley