Dallas: Jim Yates preview

Ask any drag racer how important lane choice is on any given Sunday and the reply would likely be: very. It could be twice that -- very, very -- if the driver is from the Pro Stock category. All Pro Stock drivers will tell you that qualifying...

Ask any drag racer how important lane choice is on any given Sunday and the reply would likely be: very.

It could be twice that -- very, very -- if the driver is from the Pro Stock category.

All Pro Stock drivers will tell you that qualifying anywhere in the top 16 is the most important, but, secondly, they prefer the top eight because lane choice in the first round comes with it.

Jim Yates would be very satisfied with a top eight starting position Sunday in the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. He'll get four runs to prove he belongs ' two Friday (4:30 and 7 p.m.) and two Saturday (noon and 3 p.m.). And then he's like to win all four rounds of eliminations.

'We need to qualify in the top half,' said the driver of the Sea Ray Boats/B&W/Wiley-X Eyewear Pontiac GTO. 'Our new GTO has proven capable of qualifying in the top eight.'

Yates is a proven winner at the Motorplex (1995-96). He also finished second in 1998 and 1999.

The GTO is three races old, and it takes time for a Pro Stock crew to uncover what the car likes or doesn't like when it comes time to make near-perfect runs down the quarter-mile tracks. Such is the case for Yates and his son/crew chief, Jamie.

'We were happy with the way Jamie had the car running last weekend at Chicago,' said Yates, who qualified ninth with a 6.684-second, 206.35-mph effort. He missed the No. 8 position not by elapsed time, but speed. Warren Johnson had the same time but a faster speed, 206.99 mph.

'We made a pretty good run against Warren in the first round (6.781 at 203.61 mph) but he beat us to the finish line (with a 6.766 at 204.54), but only by six-thousandths (of a second),' continued Yates. 'Who knows Maybe lane choice was worth six-thousandths.'

Yates remains intent on improving his position in POWERade Series points. He's currently 10th with 900 points. Sixth place, however, is just 63 points -- or three round wins -- away. Forty points separate Yates from seventh place.

-jyr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson