Las Vegas: Jim Yates top Pro Stock qualifier

LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2001 - After a long, intermittent rain delays that hampered the final two rounds qualifying, the Pro fields are set for the running of the 2nd annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jim Yates ...

LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2001 - After a long, intermittent rain delays that hampered the final two rounds qualifying, the Pro fields are set for the running of the 2nd annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Jim Yates Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am set a track-record elapsed time of 6.933 seconds at 197.3 mph to take the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock. It was Yates first top qualifier of the season and his first raceday pole since last year's spring race at Houston. The two-time Winston champion (1996-97) bolted to the top of the ladder and posted his record-breaking run during the last session of the day. Darrel Alderman is qualified second, Bruce Allen is third in a Grand Am, Mark Pawuk is fourth in a Grand Am and Rickie Smith is fifth in a Camaro. It is the third time this season that a Grand Am has been top Pro Stock qualifier at an NHRA national event.

Jim Yates (Splitfire Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "We flew a new motor out here for us to use and we didn't get it until Friday at 1 p.m. It was supposed to be here at 10:30 in the morning, but FedEx got a little bit behind, so we were busting our butts to get it ready for the first session. We did get it in, and it has shown power all weekend we just couldn't get enough clutch in it. We kept slipping the clutch in first and second gear. So for the night run tonight we decided to just go for it since the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am was already qualified well. We wanted to see if the track could hold it and it did. We ran a 6.933 second elapsed time. We knew it had the power, we just couldn't get ahead of the clutch. That motor is very powerful, and once we got the clutch where it needed to be it went out and ran well."

On how he found more horsepower - "Basically this time it was the cylinder heads. Carl Foltz does our heads. He does a lot of stuff for Winston Cup teams along with Pro Stock. He did the heads for us when we won the championship. Basically it's just grinding the heads and changing the manifolds. About 90 percent of the power comes from the intake manifolds. "

On being surprised with the run at the time of evening it happened - "Well we knew the air was good. It was two-hundredths faster then it was this morning. The track was good the first two or three hundred feet. The problem is when it gets this cold the track temperature goes down and tonight it was about 56 degrees. So when you get down in high gear the Pro Stock cars don't have a lot of down force. The car spun pretty hard down the track, it got close to the guard wall in fourth gear and I just put it in fifth gear early and tore it down through the finish line. Our cars don't make that much E.T. from the eighth-mile to the finish. From the 60-foot to the 330 is where we get our E.T., and the track was really good. Luckily we were way back in the pack of the session. A lot of the other cars put down traction and the car responded really well. "

Observations of the racetrack - "The track is perfect. The only problem we've had is th-e wind. It blew me over to the centerline, I overcorrected, went towards the guard wall and it got out of the groove a little bit. The track was just cold. On our graphs we haven't seen any bumps at all on the track. The ground is perfectly flat. There are very few national-event tracks that are this good. "

On how it feels to be No.1 again - "It's a great boost for the team. Bob Ingles worked night and day to get that motor done. He put his heart and soul into it. I get a lot of credit, but these guys have worked really hard for Bob to see his engine qualify on the pole. Everybody in the engine shop works hard and everyone at the racetrack works hard. The team needs a boost every now and then. We knew we had the potential but to actually go out there and execute and perform well takes the monkey off your back. It kind of sets you free. We can go out there tomorrow and know this Grand Am is a great racecar. We're going to go one round at a time."

-Jeff Romack

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Bruce Allen , Rickie Smith