Â Â JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 30, 2001 - It was quite a week for Jim Yates - going from his hospital stay and angioplasty surgery in Memphis to his career-best Pro Stock run at Route 66 Raceway Saturday. Â Â Â On Sunday, however, Yates' ...
JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 30, 2001 - It was quite a week for Jim Yates - going from his hospital stay and angioplasty surgery in Memphis to his career-best Pro Stock run at Route 66 Raceway Saturday.
On Sunday, however, Yates' SplitFire/PEAK Pontiac Grand Am's performance fell off and he made it to the quarterfinals of the inaugural NHRA Nationals. While he was disappointed, the Alexandria, Va. driver was really just happy to be racing here.
"We could be way far behind (in the Pro Stock title chase) after what the doctor told me last Saturday night," Yates said. "We were planning to miss a few races but we had a chance to come out here this weekend. Right now I feel 100 percent. This is the first time since I've been here (he arrived Thursday) that I feel normal. There's a lot of adrenaline flowing and the car's running good. I told myself I was lucky to be here and I wasn't going to push myself.
"We did everything normal today, worked on the car, worked on the clutch and the combination and we went a couple of rounds."
Yates did take a hit in Winston Series standings. He trailed Warren Johnson by 76 points starting the race, but Johnson won and extended his advantage to 135 (1387-1252) with four events to go.
After qualifying third with his best run of 6.805 seconds (and holding the Pro Stock elapsed time record for five minutes or so), Yates' first round time was 6.847 at 200.77 mph and he lost lane choice for his quarterfinal match against Tom Martino. Martino ran 6.836 at 201.37 while Yates had a best of 6.866 at 200.80.
"We made two good runs, cut two good lights and won one round," he noted while reviewing the Sunday's outing. "Losing lane choice hurt us. We made a good run in the right lane. If we'd been in the left lane we would've won the round.
"The car slowed down in the first round and we don't know why," Yates continued. "We think we might've hurt the motor Saturday (in his second qualifying run) when the transmission popped out of second gear, went into neutral, then went into third gear. The motor went up to 10,000 rpm for a short period of time and hurt a piston ring. When that happens, it usually hurts the performance by two-to-three hundredths (of a second), and we were off about three-hundredths in the first round and lost lane choice.
"We went 6.866 in the right lane and it made a beautiful run and there's no reason for it to have run that slow over there other than something being wrong with the motor. It went from being a national record-holding car to one that couldn't run in the top eight."
Engine builder Bob Ingles will take a look at the motor and have it ready for the Pep Boys Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Reading, Pa.
Yates' Results -- Inaugural NHRA Nationals, Joliet, Ill., Sept. 30 Qualified: Third, 6.805 seconds at 201.37 mph (career best elapsed time)
First Round: Yates, 6.847 at 200.77 def. Ron Krisher, 6.871 at 200.44
Quarterfinals: Tom Martino, 6.838 at 201.37 def. Yates, 6.866 at 200.80
Standing: Second, 1252 points
Top Fuel: Kenny Bernstein
Funny Car: Whit Bazemore
Pro Stock: Warren Johnson
Next week (Oct. 5-7), Pep Boys Nationals, Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.