Jim Yates Welcomes New Sponsors for 2004 Season; Takes Advantage of Rain-delay by Testing in Phoenix Area POMONA, Calif., February 26, 2004 - It's a new Pro Stock season and, as per his personality, Jim Yates is brimming with optimism. He has...
Jim Yates Welcomes New Sponsors for 2004 Season;
Takes Advantage of Rain-delay by Testing in Phoenix Area
POMONA, Calif., February 26, 2004 - It's a new Pro Stock season and, as per his personality, Jim Yates is brimming with optimism.
He has new sponsors in Sea Ray Boats and B&W Custom Truck Beds Inc., a new Rick Jones-built Pontiac Grand Am and a clean sheet when it comes to track information.
The latter fact is one Yates would rather not be facing, but an NHRA rules change called for Pro Stocks to use beadlock wheel-tire combinations on their rear tires. The added weight and larger tires forced chassis alterations and sent all the drivers into a busy preseason test mode.
Yates, for example, followed the sun earlier this month to stops in Bradenton, Fla., Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas. He put laps on his Pontiac and gathered computer data on the new setup in preparation for the rain-delayed POWERade Series season opener, the K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. His first and only lap before inclement weather forced a one-week delay in the event left him 16th, 6.843 seconds at 202.12 mph, and looking for a drier place to make a few test runs and scuff in some new tires.
He found it at Speed World in Surprise, Ariz., accomplished his mission and planned to be in Pomona Thursday in anticipation of Friday's 3 p.m. qualifying run. It will be followed by Saturday sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
"Putting on the new tires and wheels was a big change for us," said Yates, "but every driver in our class was in the same position. The new stuff made the cars 30 pounds heavier, and that's huge in Pro Stock, where five extra pounds last year made the difference in whether or not you qualified."
Yates, of Occoquan, Va., worked closely with Jones on the car's construction and early results were very satisfying.
"We preferred to build a new car instead of trying to compensate by changing last year's chassis," said Yates. "We are confident we will be running in the top four or five cars this year."
Nonetheless, Yates didn't hesitate when making the decision to head east, looking for better conditions.
"We had nothing else to do for five or six days," he commented. "It's the beginning of the season and we have a lot to learn about this new Pontiac Grand Am. It threw us a curve ball on the first qualifying run, but it did the same thing in Houston, so it's consistent. When you get to a lot of horsepower and a good racetrack, it wants to stand up and shake the tires. So we have to move the bar around, change some weight and go after it."
Yates won back-to-back Pro Stock championships in 1996 and 1997. He's finished in the top 10 for 10 straight years. He was ninth in 2003.