News & Media

Yeley to give Robinson last Nationwide hurrah?

February 11, 2012, Dave Rodman,

In series since 2000, owner has sponsor for season-opener but nothing else

J.J. Yeley will do double duty for Robinson-Blakeney Racing at Daytona's Speedweeks. Co-owner Jay Robinson hopes it's not his organization's last hurrah in the Nationwide Series.

Since making his series debut as an owner in the 2000 season, Robinson's credited with 575 Nationwide starts. But because of motorsports' financial landscape Robinson entered a partnership with Troy Blakeney of Houston, Texas, to primarily run the 2012 Sprint Cup Series.

"This was a situation where I needed to come up with a new plan," Robinson said, laughing. "It may backfire on me and end up not being a good plan. But I certainly tried to do as well as I know how to do to put a team together, matching the right people with the right people."

"I've been in that series so long and I've been to every race they've had since the beginning of 2001 and I just ... I hate to not be in it and I wish we were able to keep going."


In his team's history Robinson has had no less than 11 champions of various series in his cars, including Dick Trickle, Steve Grissom, Jeff and David Green and Randy LaJoie. His first entry was driven by Rodney Childers, who is currently Mark Martin's Sprint Cup crew chief.

Yeley already had a deal to run Robinson-Blakeney's No. 49 Sprint Cup Toyota, which will attempt to make its debut in the Daytona 500. Now, Yeley will also enter RBR's No. 28 JPO Companies Chevrolet in the Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Robinson hopes it's not his organization's last Nationwide chapter, but reality might intervene.

"I got a sponsor for Daytona [Thursday] evening, so I called J.J. [Friday] morning to see if he wanted to drive it, and he said 'yes,' " Robinson said Friday evening. "We're just doing Daytona and beyond that, I don't even know if we're going to run the Nationwide car much.

"I'm a little discouraged about the whole Nationwide situation right now. First, from our team's perspective -- I've been in that series so long and I've been to every race they've had since the beginning of 2001 and I just ... I hate to not be in it and I wish we were able to keep going."

The bottom line led Robinson to change his primary series focus, after the No. 28 car finished 28th in the 2011 Nationwide owners' standings.

"There's just no sponsorship and without sponsorship, you just can't do it any more," Robinson said. "We've got to make some hard choices on that, I guess, early in the season. We still could find some sponsorship. We don't need very much at all, to make us want to go do [Nationwide races] but you've got to have something and as of [Friday] we've only got something for Daytona."

Robinson has virtually moved mountains and juggled elephants to keep his cars on track. In 2011 Derrike Cope ran all but one race in the No. 28 and Robinson used four other drivers in his other two cars.

He's seen the extremes of using 13 drivers in each of the 2002 and 2003 seasons, when he ran a single No. 49 car in 2002 and two cars, Nos. 49 and 39, in 2003. Robinson's "quietest" season was 2010, when Kenny Wallace ran the full schedule in the No. 28, finishing 19th in the drivers' standings while two other drivers ran the No. 49. Wallace finished 11th driving Robinson's No. 28 in 2009.

Robinson did a deal with veteran owner/driver/crew chief Jeff Spraker to operate this season's Nationwide program, which Spraker will lead at Daytona. Where that goes remains to be seen. Robinson plans a single car at Daytona for the second consecutive season, after entering three cars for the 2010 season opener.

Robinson said the Daytona car is one of last year's chassis with a new body and "It's a really nice car. It'll look nice and hopefully it'll go fast."

In 2011, Jay Robinson Racing fielded Chevrolets and Dodges using its 28, 49 and 48 numbers. In addition, continuing a deal he started in 2010, Robinson fielded a car in roughly a third of the races for ML Motorsports, to enable owner Mary Louise Miller to maintain a position in the top 30 in the owners' standings.