Memphis: Jim Yates preview

More Horsepower Should Help Jim Yates at Mid-South Nationals This Is Last Race for His Pontiac Grand Am; GTO on the Way Hey everybody, Jim Yates is having a going away party for a racing partner this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park. The...

More Horsepower Should Help Jim Yates at Mid-South Nationals
This Is Last Race for His Pontiac Grand Am; GTO on the Way

Hey everybody, Jim Yates is having a going away party for a racing partner this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park.

The O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals will be the final race for Yates' B&W/Wiley-X Eyewear Pontiac Grand Am and he wants to give it a good sendoff. Actually, he's really hoping the car will give him an excellent parting gift -- like maybe winning three or four rounds of racing on Sunday.

The venerable Grand Am will be supplanted by a Pontiac GTO that comes with a better aerodynamic package that has already proven to be an improvement over Yates' current ride. But the GTO won't be ready for another few weeks.

Yates was pleased with the way his current car performed last weekend at Brainerd, Minn., and believes the changes he and his son/crew chief Jamie made will be adaptable to the conditions at Memphis as well.

"I'm excited about the power we had at Brainerd," said Yates. "We showed some improvement and we should be able to make that work for us at Memphis. We were only three or four-thousandths (of a second) away from qualifying in the top half of the field."

Eight drivers in the tightly bunched field qualified in the 7.3-second range, including Yates at 6.737 seconds, which wound up 12th. The No. 6 qualifier's time was 6.731 seconds and the seventh place time was 6.735.

Engine builder Steve Schmidt found more power and it's certain to be beneficial at Memphis, too.

Qualifying in the top eight is important because it comes with lane choice in the first round. At Brainerd, it was very advantageous because the left lane was much better than the right. And the right lane was bathed in oil from a broken Top Fuel engine earlier in eliminations that created traction problems in the first round even though it was cleaned up. The right lane was where Yates had to run.

"We did get down the track. We did the best we could under the circumstances," said Yates after his opening-round loss to V. Gaines, 6.763 seconds at 204.11 mph to 6.793 at 203.34 mph.

Yates, 10th in POWERade points with 733, is 83 points behind sixth place with seven races remaining. His sights are set on climbing higher. A successful Grand Am sendoff would help.

-jyr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Schmidt