Topeka Pontiac Motorsports Preview

TOPEKA, Kan. (September 22, 1998) Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird driver Jim Yates is the defending champion at the Parts America Nationals and takes his own winning streak into Heartland Park where he has won the last two October races. The ...

TOPEKA, Kan. (September 22, 1998) Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird driver Jim Yates is the defending champion at the Parts America Nationals and takes his own winning streak into Heartland Park where he has won the last two October races. The defending Winston champion is currently fourth in the points standings.

"I think that driving is something you improve upon every time you let the clutch out. I think I'm a lot better driver getting from the starting line to the finish line than I ever was. Where I lack some focus at the present time is on the starting line, and I think that comes with complacency. I'm older, so you wouldn't expect my reaction times to be as good, but I'm as good on any particular run as I've ever been."

It won't be long now before GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird driver Warren Johnson wins his fourth Winston championship. With only five races and 20 potential rounds of competition remaining, the "Professor" of Pro Stock holds such a commanding lead over his nearest opponent that it may be next to impossible to catch him. He won the Parts America Nationals in 1992.

"Our focus has always been on winning the championship, and then when you break it down into its basic elements, you have to win the rounds. If you win the rounds consistently, then you can win races, and then you can win a championship. With the parity in Pro Stock right now, there's no conceivable way that one car can get to the semi-finals or the finals, and not win a national event and win the championship. That possibility is no longer there, especially in Pro Stock with the consistency of a majority of these cars and the closeness of the category. We're extremely elated to have the good fortune to be in the position we are."

Three-time Parts America Nationals Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon (1992, 94-95) remembers last year's race all too well. Following the event, the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird driver underwent emergency appendectomy surgery, but he recovered well enough to compete five days later at Memphis. This year, Pedregon is fourth in the Winston standings and looking for his fourth national event win of the year.

"I have to look at the package we've put together with the team. Wes Cerny, and I have to mention Jim Brissette. He's been a big help to Wes in setting the car up and making some crucial decisions along the way. There's a lot of experience here and when you can utilize all of your people and all of your resources, you're going to have a great team. Looking back on it, I think we've done a pretty phenomenal job considering the short time we've been together."

Shelly Anderson's comeback is almost complete. After totaling her Parts America/Pontiac dragster at Sonoma in July, she underwent six weeks of extensive rehabilitation that caused her to miss the next two races at Seattle and Brainerd. At Indianapolis, Anderson made a gallant effort to qualify for the 44th Annual U.S. Nationals but failed to make the race after her fourth qualifying attempt. Her focus now turns to winning her first race of the year at the Parts America Nationals.

"The crew members have never given up and it's made our Parts America/Pontiac team probably closer than ever. I guess it's character building and maybe you need this to appreciate the good times. But I just hope the good times make up for it and that they arrive soon."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Shelly Anderson