Denver Pro Stock Preview

YATES WANTS TO START PRO STOCK WINNING STREAK IN DENVER MORRISON, Colo. -If nothing else, Jim Yates' recent Pro Stock victory at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis proved one theory correct: timing is everything. Yates, a...

YATES WANTS TO START PRO STOCK WINNING STREAK IN DENVER MORRISON, Colo. -If nothing else, Jim Yates' recent Pro Stock victory at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis proved one theory correct: timing is everything. Yates, a two-time defending Winston Pro Stock champion, emerged from his 10th place qualifying position to steal the victory with impressive elimination runs over veterans Steve Schmidt and Mike Thomas and upcoming stars Greg Anderson and Allen Johnson. It was just another hard day's work for Yates and his family-based team from Alexandria, Va. But as Yates can attest, long hours don't always assure victory. If that were the case, he'd have already wrapped up his third and fourth Winston titles. "Hard work doesn't win races by itself," said Yates, who will lead Pro Stock competitors into competition at the 21st annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. The $1.6 million race is the 12th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "You have to be in the right place at the right time and be doing the right things," Yates added. "We finally put it together at St. Louis. We've lost a lot of races this season that we could have easily won that day. We were able to get some good wins under our belt round after round and that makes a big difference. It was our day to win." Yates, an NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion in 1996 and 1997, earned victories at Bandimere during both of those seasons. However, he realizes past success at one track or another doesn't guarantee future success. Especially with the competition hitting the track in Pro Stock these days. "There's a lot of tough competition out here right now and you have to take everyone seriously," said Yates, who suffered a rare first round loss last year at Bandimere. "I was just extremely satisfied with the way the car worked and ran in St. Louis. I feel very comfortable in the Firebird I drove at St. Louis. The setup for Denver is very different, but hopefully we can carry the momentum we gained there and roll right in to Denver with it." Not only is Yates excited about the wave of momentum, but he's also thrilled that the team seems to be narrowing in on the setup for his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac after much experimentation. "We've had three sets of carburetors on the car, we've used three different ignitions and we've changed everything -- two rear ends, two transmissions," Yates said. "We've been throwing all kinds of pieces at it trying to get it right. We finally found a combination that wasn't the fastest, but it was consistent, and it got the job done." Yates last won at the 1998 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. After leading his category in wins for two seasons, then virtually dropping out of sight, proving that he could still win was a tremendous relief. He says he never took winning for granted, but now he better realizes all the components that must be working together to get the job done. "We won 18 races during two seasons," Yates said. "So no matter how hard you worked, you were only a couple of weeks away from some recognition. We've gone the last year-and-a-half without winning and some people have basically counted us down and out. That has just made our team work harder. To come out and win with everyone working as hard as they have been just gives the whole team that little extra pat on the back."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Greg Anderson , Allen Johnson , Steve Schmidt