Yates Puts Pontiac in Winner's Circle at Pontiac Performance Nationals Pedregon Makes it Two in a Row for Chevy in Funny Car HEBRON, Ohio, May 21, 2006 - It was dejÃ vu all over again at today's 42nd annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals...
Yates Puts Pontiac in Winner's Circle at Pontiac Performance Nationals Pedregon Makes it Two in a Row for Chevy in Funny Car
HEBRON, Ohio, May 21, 2006 - It was dejà vu all over again at today's 42nd annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway as GM-sponsored cars posted wins in both the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes for the second consecutive NHRA POWERade event. Jim Yates in his Sea-Ray Pontiac GTO defeated V. Gaines's Dodge on a hole-shot for his first win in nearly four years (Reading 2002) and the 25th of his career. Tony Pedregon posted his second consecutive event win in the Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo, matching his win two weeks ago at Atlanta. Pedregon defeated Whit Bazemore's Dodge in the final for his fourth win over the last 13 events dating back to Reading 2005.
Yates defeated Dave Howard in Round 1, Larry Morgan in Round 2, and then scored a hole-shot win over Jason Line in the semifinals. In that match-up Yates used a more than .02 reaction-time advantage at the starting line and posted a 6.703 e.t. at 205.57 mph to better Line's quicker 6.687 e.t. at 206.42 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO. In the final against Gaines, Yates scored another hole-shot win with a 6.726 e.t. at 205.72 mph to Gaines's 6.687 e.t. at 206.23 mph. The win moved Yates up to third in the points standings, 48 points in arrears of points leader Greg Anderson.
"I messed up the second round and lost lane choice," said Yates. "I didn't run fast enough, so in the third round I ended up in the right lane and that wasn't the better lane. Since I messed up and put us over there, I had to get the hole-shot win to beat the Summit car (Jason Line). But I'm an equal-opportunity guy, I beat a Summit car, a Pontiac, whatever it takes. It was cool getting a Pontiac the win in the Pontiac Performance Nationals. I told (GM's) Fred Simmonds right before the final that I knew I had been his hero all day long and that I sure didn't want to go up there in the final and lose to a Dodge because then I'd be a zero. That's how fast it is out here in Pro Stock. You can be a hero one round and a zero the next.
"Pontiac's done such a good job here sponsoring this race with Summit. It's been a great deal. We just wanted to go out there and do our best for them. (Son) Jamie did a great job with the car all day, and 'Grump' (Bill Jenkins), there making some horsepower back there. Ever since Houston he's been picking the program up, and Jamie's been working on the car and the gear ratios. The numbers are on the board - you can't argue with them."
Yates, the '96 and '97 Pro Stock champ, added veteran engine builder and Pro Stock legend Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins to his team this year and has seen a marked improvement each race since the season-opener at Pomona.
"Over the winter we thought we'd be okay with 'Grump' coming on board, along with this new GTO we got at the end of last year - it's just an awesome car. And Jamie's matured another year, and having 'Grump' on board has helped Jamie because he takes some responsibility off Jamie's shoulders, and 'Grump' sees things that Jamie doesn't see. We built this team from the ground up, and that's the good part. It didn't just happen overnight. We started at Pomona in the bottom half of the field and we've worked our way up all year. Every race we've gotten better in qualifying.
"I have so much respect for that guy (Jenkins), it's unbelievable. He's not grumpy, he's just busy. He's seventy-five years old and he works constantly on this stuff. I mean he pushes himself to the limit every day to make this stuff run. If he wastes energy out there signing autographs or smiling, he's not focused on getting the "O2" sensors right and making the car run good. All he thinks about from the time that he comes to this racetrack is how to make that GTO run faster, and I like it that way."
In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon has rebounded from a slow start in his Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to claim wins in the past two NHRA POWERade events. At Atlanta two weeks ago he defeated all three Team Force cars en route to his first win of the season, and today he matched it for season- win No. 2 with a final-round victory over Whit Bazemore. Pedregon ran a final-round elapsed time of 4.923 seconds at 313.66 mph to better Bazemore's tire-smoking 6.368 e.t. at 146.34 mph.
"This is a good day," said Pedregon. "This is a good day at the office, this is a good day fishing, however you want to slice it. I appreciate the hard work and the effort put in by my team and my brother's (Cruz) team. We started slow for six races to start the season and we got bumped out of the top 10, and after Las Vegas I figured it was all uphill from there. It just goes to show you with a lot of work, diligence and real good teamwork, the end result is this. I know we talk about the sponsors all day, but really what makes this sport up are the fans, the people that come out to the races. This morning it was raining and I wanted to stay in bed. We appreciate everyone that sticks around and we had a good turnout here today. We love this racetrack, we love this city. It's an important market for NHRA, for Powerade, for Summit, and especially for Pontiac which has a lot of history at this track. But we especially appreciate all of the fans. There the reason these sponsors are around."
In Top Fuel, GMC-sponsored Cory McClenathan reached his first final of the season in his FRAM Boost/Jeg's Top Fuel dragster to move back into the top 10 in points. In the final he had a mechanical problem past halftrack and lost to Brandon Bernstein. Cory Mac ran a 5.784 e.t. at 147.47 mph to Bernstein's winning 4.531 e.t. at 329.58 mph.
In the Sportsman classes, hometown winner Craig Marshall from Columbus, Ohio, drove his '98 Grand Am to the Super Stock title, Joey Wilkes from nearby Zanesville, Ohio, won Stock Eliminator in a '99 Camaro, Rock Haas from White Lake, Mich., won Super Gas in his '63 Corvette, and Rudy Matthews from Ohio City, Ohio, drove a '69 Camaro to the Super Street crown. Also, Larry Eagle from Bethesda, Ohio, won the Hedman Hedders Best Engineered Vehicle for his Blenzall Racing Oil Pontiac Super Stock entry.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka on May 25-28.