Joliet: Jim Yates preview

Yates Tests New Clutch En Route to Route 66 Nationals; Parts Failure Forces Stop to Make Sure Clutch Working Properly JOLIET, Ill., May 19, 2004 - The most direct driving route from Atlanta to Chicago may not go through St. Louis, but it's the...

Yates Tests New Clutch En Route to Route 66 Nationals; Parts Failure Forces Stop to Make Sure Clutch Working Properly

JOLIET, Ill., May 19, 2004 - The most direct driving route from Atlanta to Chicago may not go through St. Louis, but it's the road Jim and Toni Yates and the Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pro Stock Pontiac team chose.

No, they weren't sightseeing; they were headed for Gateway International Raceway in nearby Madison, Ill., to get in a few test runs before continuing to Joliet, site of this weekend's Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

The extra laps were necessitated by a rare clutch parts failure Saturday during Southern Nationals qualifying near Atlanta. The predicament forced a clutch change before their final qualifying attempt and the result was Yates did not qualify and dropped from the POWERade Series top 10.

"We need to make sure everything is working right before we get the track," said Yates. "The car ran really good last weekend until the clutch problem."

Yates was confident he would've been among the top eight starters Sunday had the clutch worked liked expected.

"The car made good runs twice Friday and again on our last attempt Saturday," Yates added. But the best qualifying conditions happened to coincide with the parts failure.

"I really felt we were on way to qualifying in the top half of the field," he continued. "That really helps on race day. We'd run well and we wanted to be in the starting lineup.

"We are anxious to get to Joliet and get back on the track. That's the good part about having several races in a row. I'd rather have it this way than have to sit around and think about what happened for week or so."

The Route 66 Nationals is the middle race of three in a row. The Summer Nationals are May 28-30 at Topeka, Kan.

Yates opens his quest for that spot in the 16-car field, preferably in the top eight, Friday with qualifying runs at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday's sessions are at noon and 3 p.m. and Sunday's eliminations get underway at 11 a.m.

-jyr-

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Series NHRA