Houston Jamie Yates; talent and confidence growing

HOUSTON (April 13, 2000) - There's always a touch of uncertainty when someone tries to master a new skill, let alone learning the delicate intricacies of driving a 200-mph Pro Stock Firebird. But for Jamie Yates, competing on the NHRA Winston...

HOUSTON (April 13, 2000) - There's always a touch of uncertainty when someone tries to master a new skill, let alone learning the delicate intricacies of driving a 200-mph Pro Stock Firebird. But for Jamie Yates, competing on the NHRA Winston championship circuit is the realization of a lifelong dream. Every time he straps into his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac it brings him a quarter mile closer to his first victory. Yates is the 22 year-old son of two-time Winston champion Jim Yates. An engineering student at the University of Maryland, Jamie juggles the demanding NHRA race schedule simultaneously with his pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree. And just like his successful father, who is a graduate of the U. of M., racing gives the younger Yates the opportunity to apply classroom instruction to the racetrack. "It definitely keeps me busy," said Yates. "But I'm not one to sit around. Anytime I can go down to the raceshop and work on the cars I jump at the chance. That's something I enjoy considerably. This semester I backed off my workload at school but I'm scheduled for a May 2001 graduation. At the same time, working on the car gives me the chance to apply what I've learned at school, and it's neat to see how everything works together." "Even though I have a lot more to learn about driving Pro Stock Cars, each time I get in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird I feel more and more comfortable. It's also an advantage to be learning from my dad - one of the best in this sport. He's been a terrific help in showing me what I need to do and he does a great job in helping me to calm down. My reaction times still need to come around, but from a shifting standpoint, at Las Vegas I did a pretty good job. Overall I've been able to improve quite a bit, so the confidence builds each time I get in the car. When I go home, I practice quite a bit on the simulator trying to get my reaction times a little better, but I think it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing." Heading into the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, Jamie's looking at breaking into the Winston top 10 after a pair of strong performances; first at the Checkers Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Phoenix where he advanced to the semi-final round, and then last weekend at the Summitracing.com Nationals in Las Vegas where he qualified sixth and advanced to round two. "We had a pretty good weekend in Las Vegas," Yates said. "Hopefully we were able to fix my car so that we're a little bit more competitive at the next few races. I qualified strong, which is a lot better than what we were able to do at the first three events, and my driving is starting to pick up. I mean, I'm still in a reaction time slump, and I have some things to work on, but at the same time, my confidence level is building. I'm much more comfortable driving now than I was in Pomona, or Phoenix or even Gainesville. "I'm anxious to get to Houston to get a couple of more runs under my belt, and hopefully qualify as well as we did at Las Vegas. I really like the race facility they have at HRP, it's very smooth, it's probably going to be very fast, and I'm looking forward to it." The 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex., on April 13- 16 is the fifth race on the 23-event NHRA Winston championship schedule. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on TNN on Sunday, April 16 beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. "Houston is a sea-level track which will be quite a contrast to what we experienced in Las Vegas," explained Yates. "The air will be good enough to run 6.80s and the track will be conducive to good times as well. With one more spot open in the 200 mph club, there's a few of us that would like to grab that last position. Hopefully it will be us. "As the year goes forward and with the talent we have with this team, the opportunity may present itself where I am in a position to win a race. As long as we're qualified and running consistent, you just never know - anyone can win on raceday. From a driver's standpoint, in five or six races I hope to improve my reaction times and driving ability to where I can compete with the best."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jamie Yates