Jim Yates on the pole for sixth time with Pontiac SC/T Grand Am. MADISON, Ill., June 29, 2002 - Qualifying was completed today for the 6th annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Weather conditions were the same...
Jim Yates on the pole for sixth time with Pontiac SC/T Grand Am.
MADISON, Ill., June 29, 2002 - Qualifying was completed today for the 6th annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Weather conditions were the same as Friday - hot and humid, which didn't change the 16-car line-up a great deal. Two-time NHRA champion Jim Yates powered the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac SC/T Grand Am to his sixth pole of the season, and fifth in a row with his track-record elapsed time from Friday night of 6.848 seconds at 200.59 mph. Ron Krisher leads the Chevrolet Cavalier campaign in the second position with an elapsed time of 6.874 seconds at 201.01 mph. George Marnell is third in an SC/T Grand Am, Mark Whisnant is fourth in a Cavalier, and Warren Johnson rounds out the top-five in an SC/T Grand Am. Troy Coughlin is qualified seventh and Jeg Coughlin is eighth, both in Cavaliers. Bruce Allen is ninth in an SC/T Grand Am, Tom Hammonds is 15th in a Cavalier and Jamie Yates qualifies for his first race of the season in a Grand Am rounding out the 16-car field with an elapsed time of 6.925 seconds at 198.90 mph.
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac SC/T Grand Am) - "It's so tough out here - you have to get qualified, and we weren't right yesterday morning. We got it right last night but you still just worry that you won't get qualified. What happens when you worry is you work extra hard, you do your homework, you replace a lot of pieces, you get the motors running on the dyno, you double check and make sure all of your ducks are in a row so when you come out here you qualify No. 1 for the fifth time in a row. We've got a great combination to qualify with and we've proved that. We can go to a strange racetrack put a combination in this SC/T Grand Am and adapt to the racetrack surface quicker than anybody else out there. Where we are suffering is on Sunday when everyone else catches up to us. We're afraid to mess with it on Saturday and shoot ourselves in the foot. So we're going to try and step it up a little and win a darn race. That's what we came here to do."
What's better, you qualifying No. 1 or Jamie qualifying? "That's a tough one. But it's me qualifying No. 1. We don't put as much time as we should into his car to get it to run as fast as it needs to run. We focus all our energy on my car. We go out and watch his car run, and then we go back and change things on mine. Getting him to qualify is really great. He deserves it. He's worked really hard this year and has put a lot of energy into the program. He's been very unselfish this year and puts all his efforts behind my car. Getting into the show is a reward for him. He's going to be heck to deal with tomorrow in the first round. He's going to go out there and try to win - trust me. His crew chief, Jonathan my youngest son, is getting a little cocky so I'm not letting him touch my car tonight."
Is the new SC/T Ram Air hood an advantage at these hot tracks? "What the Ram Air hood does for us is that it balances the front end. We went to Chicago and qualified with the old front end and qualified No. 1 and had a fast car. Then we went to the GM wind tunnel, tested the new front end and then went to the next two races and qualified No. 1 by an even larger margin. I think the new front end is a definite advantage, and it helps us more on the hot racetracks because it gets that front downforce off of the car, puts a little bit more weight on the back and helps these Pontiacs get down the middle of the track."
Bruce Allen (Speedco Pontiac Grand Am) - "We're a little disappointed that we're not in the top-half of the field, but we're not going to complain too much because we're happy we're qualified. Once again a lot of good cars didn't get in. I mean we have 40 cars here this weekend fighting for 16 spots. That's pretty unreal. I think everyone including Jim Yates and Warren Johnson, get nervous just to qualify. The weather obviously isn't what we call ideal, but we feel pretty good about our setup and hopefully we'll be able to go some rounds tomorrow."
Are you seeing advantages with the new SC/T Ram Air hood? "It's helping us all the way down the track. The car handles better and balances the car out. We're real happy with the performance of the SC/T Grand Am with the new hood. This is really our first hot racetrack, and when the track is as slippery as it is here, the SC/T Grand Am really helps us get down the track."
Jamie Yates (Splifire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) -"There's nothing wrong with running my dad tomorrow. We're making progress with the car, and my dad is No. 1 again which was the goal when we got here. Getting my Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am qualified is an added bonus. We still haven't figured my car out. We're just plugging away a little bit at a time and staying focused on dad's car. We still have a long way to go. I'd like to be able to get both cars qualified in the top-half of the field and running well. I'm still learning, but I'm learning from one of the best."
Television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, June 30, from 8 - 10:30p.m. (ET) on ESPN 2.