Jim Yates' Pontiac Grand Am takes top starting spot. HOUSTON, April 13, 2002 - Qualifying for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals was completed today at Houston Raceway Park. Two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jim Yates drove the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac...
Jim Yates' Pontiac Grand Am takes top starting spot.
HOUSTON, April 13, 2002 - Qualifying for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals was completed today at Houston Raceway Park. Two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jim Yates drove the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am to the No. 1 starting position during the morning round of time trials. Yates' Pontiac set a track-record elapsed time of 6.822 seconds at 201.91 mph. It is the first pole this season for Yates and the 22nd career No. 1 start for the 48-year-old veteran driver. Prior to this event, Yates' last top qualifying effort came in November of 2001 at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Yates was also the No. 1 qualifier for this event in 2000. He breaks a four race streak in which Ron Krisher had been the raceday pole sitter.
With Yates' record-setting effort today, Friday's No. 1 qualifier, Chevy Cavalier driver Greg Anderson, dropped to the No. 2 starting spot. Warren Johnson is third in a Pontiac Grand Am, Ron Krisher finds himself in the unfamiliar fourth spot in a Cavalier, and Mike Edwards is fifth in a Cavalier. Krisher's Chevy has the best top speed of the meet so far at 202.30 mph. The No. 16 qualifier is John Geyer who holds the final starting position with a 6.871 e.t. at 200.50 mph. The No. 1 and No. 16 qualifiers are separated by only .049 second.
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "Bob Ingles, our engine builder, has been staying home for a lot of races this year, and now we've got some more help on the team with Terry Adams coming back to crew chief Jamie's car. With Bob staying home, he's picked up the motors a little bit and we now have more power. Krisher may have stumbled a little bit this weekend - he's not running as good as he usually runs. He's kind of had a lock on the pole. Last year we finished up where we were the No. 1 qualifier at three of the last six races, and maybe we're back to that form again."
Were you surprised the lap this morning was as good as it was? "The right lane is worse, but we still ran a 6.82 over there last night. The air got a couple of hundred feet worse today but we still decided to go after it. We swung for the fence and hit a homerun. That's what you're going to have to do out here to get the pole. You can't go up there light and you can't go up there easy. Last night there was so much riding on that session because we were on the bump when we pulled to the starting line, and we needed to get down the track or we wouldn't be in the field. We backed the car down to make a soft run just to get qualified. We did the smart, conservative thing and were the No. 2 qualifier. Today, we changed some gear ratios around, tuned the motor up and the car responded with a 6.822. We stepped on it a little harder this afternoon in the right lane because we know this is what it'll be like during eliminations tomorrow, and ran 6.84. Our Pontiac Grand Am was the fastest car in both sessions and that tells us we have a good tune up for these conditions. That's what it'll take, along with a lot of good driving to win this race tomorrow."
Given the difference in conditions between the two rounds today, what do you consider to be the better lap? "The 6.84 this afternoon was much better, especially since it came in the right lane. The car ran within about a thousandth of a second down the back half that it did this morning. Plus the air was at least 150 feet to 200 feet worse this afternoon. We tuned up the motor a little more because we didn't have anything to lose. We were able to do that because we were already qualified well, and that's what it's going to take to win this year. The more rounds you can make, and the more tune ups you can try on the car, sooner or later you're going to find something that'll run good. Our best bet is to keep trying different parts on the car. When you're No. 1 or No. 2 qualifier, it gives you more opportunities to experiment. It looks like this weekend at least, we've moved our program forward a couple of steps, and they are huge steps, especially since we're No. 2 in the points right now." No. 1 qualifier -- 6.822ET(track record)/201.91 MPH
Warren Johnson (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am) - "Overall if you look at it, this is the fifth race of the season. We started out at the first race qualifying in the second half of the field and we've been consistently moving up the chart. There've been a lot of guys who early on have had some great success, it's up to us keep working at it to bring the performance of this car up to the level that it takes to win. I think we're at the point right now that we're running fast enough, if we can keep the consistency we'll be in great shape."
"We're qualified third. There are only three cars in the field that have run 6.82 and our Pontiac had the best top speed that last round in the heat. It's there. We're working on a few minor details on the racecar that have changed our tune up approach considerably, so we're in a little bit of a quandry as to where we are with the tune-up right now, but we'll get that figured out shortly."
"I'd have to say this car is the most superior car out there right now - it will hook up on any racetrack. Where we see a lot of cars having tire shake problems, or getting loose and what not, I'd have to say we have the best chassis out there right now." No. 3 qualifier - 6.829ET/202.15MPH
Ron Krisher (Eagle One Chevy Cavalier) - "Up until the last run we'd been making progress. What we did last run didn't work, but we'll be all right tomorrow. The motor's coming around nicely. This morning we were top speed and we also ran 161.37 mph at the eighth which was way above where the rest of the gang was. So the motor's coming around. We have a good chance tomorrow - we can run with Jim (Yates). If you look at our runs this morning, he had a one-flat and we had a 1.04. He went a 6.822 and we ran 6.840 - we can definitely get there." No. 4 qualifier -- 6.832ET/202.30MPH