Denver: Jim Yates preview

Jim Yates: Many Changes Necessary to Race in Mile-High Nationals DENVER, July 14, 2004 - The retro look will be in vogue when Jim Yates and his fellow Pro Stock drivers take to Bandimere Speedway this weekend in the Mopar Mile-High ...

Jim Yates: Many Changes Necessary to Race in Mile-High Nationals

DENVER, July 14, 2004 - The retro look will be in vogue when Jim Yates and his fellow Pro Stock drivers take to Bandimere Speedway this weekend in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals.

There won't be any old-time costumes or 10-year-old race cars. Only the elapsed times and speeds are involved in this trip to the past. And the reason is simple. At 5,280 feet high, there's not enough oxygen for any of the naturally-aspirated race engines to perform like they do at sea level.

"We have to change a lot of things in our Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pontiac Grand Am just to race at Denver," said Yates.

Before this trek up the mountain, Yates and his crew changed the car's rear end, transmission, clutch, headers, carburetors, manifold and engine tune-up. After that, he now must remember how to drive in the altitude.

"We must drive differently because we can't feel when it's time to shift the car," said the Occoquan, Va.-based veteran. "We have to get used to the lack of acceleration because it's different than being at sea level."

Pro Stock elapsed times and speeds at this elevation are circa 1992-93 at sea level tracks like Seattle's Pacific Raceways and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. - which happen to be the next two stops on NHRA's annual Western Swing. The track record at Bandimere is 7.205 seconds and the speed mark is 191.46 mph. Both were set last year. The quickest run at sea level is 6.670 seconds, set last year at Englishtown, N.J., almost a half-second better. The top speed is 207.18 mph.

Yates is a two-time Mile-High champion (1996-97). He was runner-up in 1995.

He spent the last two weeks working with engine builder Bob Ingles to find more horsepower to use when the team gets back to sea level next week.

"We have a new engine project on the dyno that shows more power, but we need to get it together and get it to the track. We won't be able to see what it does on the track until we get to Seattle," said Yates.

"We did test at Denver after the St. Louis race (July 25) and were happy with the results and the results of qualifying at St. Louis (No. 11, 6.758 seconds)," he continued. "We'll be ready to get back to sea level by Monday. The tracks in Seattle and Sonoma have similar conditions so once we get the car ready for sea level again, we shouldn't have to make major changes."

Pro Stock qualifying gets underway with sessions at 4:15 and 7: 15 p.m. Friday and at 10 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's eliminations commence at 12:30 p.m.

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