Both MBM Motorsports cars miss Daytona 500 for second consecutive year



DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Hex.com #55 Ford driver JJ Yeley drives during practice for the 64th Annual NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

By Dustin Albino

Carl Long entered this year’s Speedweeks full of hope. Just last week, the team announced that it had signed HEX.com to field JJ Yeley’s #55 Ford, with Bumper.com sponsoring Timmy Hill.

But boy, the stress a pair of 150-mile qualifying races can have on a team owner who doesn’t have a guaranteed Daytona 500 car is unfathomable.

After completing the two slowest qualifying laps on Wednesday evening – Yeley was 41st, eight tenths of a second behind 40th and Hill last, more than a second off the pace – there was an MBM Motorsports entry in each of the two Bluegreens Vacations Duel the races. And although the cars had a speed gap, Yeley sat well in the first Duel.

Early in the opening duel, Yeley lost the draft lead, albeit hanging on to the back of BJ McLeod’s #78 car. The two Ford entries worked together, while The Money Racing’s Kaz Grala, the other non-chartered car the #55 car was racing, lost the draft. During Grala’s green flag pit stop, he made a mistake while accelerating on pit road. He ended up losing the repechage, losing two rounds.

Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Money Team Racing clung to the leading pack after going a second lap down, and the #50 car began to catch up to Yeley quickly. It was the final set of corners on the final lap, but the #50 car was shot down by the #55 Ford, knocking Yeley out of the Daytona 500 race.

A frustrated Yeley, who worked with Daniel Hemric, was frustrated because the #16 Chevy pulled up with a few laps to go. He thinks it was a Chevrolet team helping another Chevrolet team, in Grala.

“We went to the top and let the first peloton pass and all of a sudden we lost almost a second,” Yeley said after the duel. “I knew Hemric had his hand out the window, he looked like he was hot, that’s all I took for it.

“The observer said that the [No.] 50 was coming in the next pack and it took me a second to realize, Team Chevy guy, [Hemric] basically slowed us down and did what he had to do for the manufacturer, but it cost us a spot in the Daytona 500.”

Yeley thought he was sitting well, believing the #55 car was going to race. The only thing he thinks he could have done differently was to block the pack Grala was in, regrouping the running order. But as he noted, blocking from top to bottom is a challenge when there’s a group of cars lining up together, quickly overtaking him.

“They were going so much faster that it would have been hard to fall in front of them and force them to do something stupid,” Yeley added. “Huge and heartbreaking disappointment knowing that you appear to be in good shape and the rope is pulled out from under you.”

Team owner Long added that the No. 55 team is working with a new spotter this season. In the past, he thinks his former spotter, who now pitches for NY Racing, would have been more aggressive and perhaps called Yeley to block bottom.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15: #66 Bumper.com Ford driver Timmy Hill drives during practice for the 64th Annual NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) |  Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 15: #66 Bumper.com Ford driver Timmy Hill drives during practice for the 64th Annual NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

In the second qualifying race, Hill finished 20th, four laps off the pace. Going into the race, Long knew it would be a long shot for the No. 66 Ford to make the field due to its lack of speed.

And for the second consecutive season, MBM Motorsports failed to enter any of its cars in the Great American Race. With the share of change that is distributed just to make the event, it is difficult to make up for it during the season.

“Harder than anything you can imagine,” Long said of his absence from the field. “You have sponsorships and you have stuff that you have in place to come here for this.”

With the start-up costs of the Next Gen car, this puts MBM in even more trouble.

“About triple at least,” Long said of how it hurts the team financially compared to missing the race in 2021 with both cars. “The agreements I have made with my sponsors, if they join us and we miss the race, I would direct them elsewhere. I have no choice but to race again.

For the rest of the weekend, Yeley will look to qualify the No. 66 Xfinity Series car in the field on Saturday, while Hill will look to lock up his No. 56 family truck in the Truck Series race on Friday.

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