Madison: Jim Yates preview

Yates Tackles Heat, Humidity in Search of Pro Stock Win at St. Louis MADISON, Ill. - For much of the 2005 season, NHRA Pro Stock drivers haven't had to deal with oppressive heat and humidity at a national event. It has been hot some places, ...

Yates Tackles Heat, Humidity in Search of Pro Stock Win at St. Louis

MADISON, Ill. - For much of the 2005 season, NHRA Pro Stock drivers haven't had to deal with oppressive heat and humidity at a national event. It has been hot some places, cooler in others in the first 11 stops on the 23-race schedule.

All that changes this weekend when the Sears Craftsman Nationals unfolds at Gateway International Raceway. A forecast of temperatures in the mid-90s in the St. Louis area will trigger the humidity.

Welcome to summer, drag racing fans.

Jim Yates, driver of the B&W Trailer Hitches/Wiley-X Eyewear Pontiac, and Jamie Yates, his son and crew chief, will be digging through their data to see what must to done to adapt the car's performance to the hot, humid conditions. They'll likely have to go back more than 12 months to find comparable stats.

"We definitely won't have anywhere near the power in St. Louis (Madison) that we had at Englishtown (N.J.) last week," said Yates, "even though we are running at night."

Typically, the dense, humid conditions slow the cars by limiting air intake.

How much?

Unusually cool conditions a year ago enabled the track elapsed time record to be lowered from 6.808 seconds in 2003 to 6.702 seconds. The current national record, set in ideal conditions at Gainesville, Fla., in March, is 6.633 seconds.

Look for runs closer to the 6.808 than the 6.702 when Yates and the rest of the Pro Stock clan qualify on Friday and Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 4:30 p.m.

This is the only event on the schedule that is run under the lights.

Yates, currently 10th with 497 points, was pleased with the way the B&W/Wiley-X Eyewear Pontiac performed last week, qualifying in the top half of the field

"We tested after the Chicago race (June 13) and changed the car around quite a bit," he reported. "We prepared the car (at Englishtown) with what we learned and the car liked it. It's always been a good car, and we're happy with the progress we've made.

"We'll just go to St. Louis and try again."

One of Yates' 24 career wins came at Gateway in 1999. He was runner-up here in 2001.

The traditional mid-season break follows this event, giving all teams an opportunity to rest up and relax for the remaining 11 events. The next race will be at Denver, July 15-17.

-jyr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jamie Yates