Baytown: Jim Yates preview

Broken Motor Fixed, Yates Aims for Spring Nationals Victory Virginia Pro Stock Driver Is 10th Going into Houston BAYTOWN, Texas, April 9, 2004 - The shelf life of a competitive Pro Stock motor may not be as long as that of the most popular...

Broken Motor Fixed, Yates Aims for Spring Nationals Victory
Virginia Pro Stock Driver Is 10th Going into Houston

BAYTOWN, Texas, April 9, 2004 - The shelf life of a competitive Pro Stock motor may not be as long as that of the most popular canned luncheon meat, but it seldom goes south quicker than yesterday's sushi.

That's what Jim Yates thought . . . until the 500-cubic inch power plant in the Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pontiac Grand Am coughed up an exhaust valve on its first run at Las Vegas on April 3. This was the motor Yates and crew had been waiting for; the one that showed so much promise during a test session before that NHRA POWERade Series outing.

One second he was thinking he could qualify in the top eight cars, the next he was wondering what the heck was going on under the hood. Actually, he had a pretty good idea. When it became reality, all they could do was change motors and hope they would grab a spot among the top 16 on the last attempt during rain-shortened qualifying.

Yates didn't make it, but he didn't fall out of the top 10 because of it. The engine and cylinder head have been repaired and reinstalled in the white Grand Am in time for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 16-18, at Houston Raceway Park.

The prospects look good, according to Yates.

"Bob (Ingles, the engine builder) has repaired the engine and it should have the same power it had at Las Vegas. Bob is very meticulous," he said. "We'd never broken a valve at a national event or had an engine parts failure at the race track. We've been very fortunate. This one just came at the wrong time.

"Pro Stock motors don't usually break," continued Yates. "The problems mostly come in the valve train because we run the motors at high rpm."

Qualifying at Las Vegas was compounded by rain that washed out Friday's two sessions, leaving only two on Saturday. Yates, his son/crew chief Jamie and the crew had little time to change the engine and combination prior to his final attempt.

The car did produce its quickest time, 6.948 seconds at 198.17 mph, but it wasn't quick enough to make the top 16..

"The (replacement) motor had a different power curve, we missed the clutch setup and we shook the tires," Yates recalled. "It was frustrating, just real frustrating."

Yates planned to make test laps Tuesday and Wednesday at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis before going to Baytown.

Houston Raceway Park has been an enigma to Yates. In 17 previous visits, he has yet to reach the winner's circle. He was runner-up twice (2000 spring race and 1995). He's been a semifinalist in his last two stops at HRP, however.

Points-wise, Yates is 10th (142) entering the fifth of 23 series events. He is less than two rounds (20 points are awarded per round win) out of seventh.

Competition gets underway with two qualifying sessions Friday (3:30 and 6:30 p.m.) and continues Saturday with two more at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

-jyr-

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