Feb. 1, 1998 Yates Wins NHRA Season Opener Jim Yates had an impressive outing in his first race under the SplitFire/PEAK racing colors. The two-time National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock series champion won Sunday's (Feb. 1) season opener,...
Feb. 1, 1998 Yates Wins NHRA Season Opener
Jim Yates had an impressive outing in his first race under the SplitFire/PEAK racing colors. The two-time National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock series champion won Sunday's (Feb. 1) season opener, the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.
The victory was Yates' 20th career NHRA national event win and it was the second time that he has won the Winternationals. His other victory at the season opener was in 1996.
After winning the first three rounds of eliminations, Yates drove his SplitFire/PEAK Pontiac Firebird to a close victory over Jeg Coughlin in the final round. Yates recorded a 6.968 second elapsed time to Coughlin's 6.989.
"We knew we were in for a battle in the final." said Yates. "It was a close race, but our car had a little more spark in it. This was a special win since it was our debut with our new sponsors -- SplitFire Spark Plugs, PEAK Anitfreeze and PEAK Motor Oil."
Even though he qualified third (6.956 at 197.28), Yates said his performance was inconsistent during the four qualifying sessions. But on race day, Yates found his rhythm and made a strong statement in the first round of eliminations when he recorded low elapsed time of the meet (6.928 seconds) in his victory over Gordie Rivera.
"That set the tone for the day," said Yates. "We went through the whole car on Saturday night, analyzing every little detail. We found a few things that were causing the car to slow down. Once we got by first round, we knew we had the performance to win this race."
Yates was right. He defeated George Marnell in the quarterfinal round and Scott Geoffrion in semifinals. They were both close races, but once again Yates had the performance advantage when the cars crossed the finish line.
"Everyone worked hard to make this win happen," said Yates. "Our co-crew chiefs Jerry Bickel and Rich Purdy made the right decisions and our engine builder Bob Ingles gave us plenty of horsepower to work with. We're so fired up right now that we can't wait for the next race in Phoenix (Feb. 20-22)."