Memphis Jim Yates Focus on Winning

YATES FOCUSED ON WINNING MORE RACES TO CLOSE 1999 SEASON MILLINGTON, Tenn. - For Jim Yates, a two-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion, the plan looked solid. After winning in convincing fashion at Sonoma, Calif., Yates managed to put ...

YATES FOCUSED ON WINNING MORE RACES TO CLOSE 1999 SEASON MILLINGTON, Tenn. - For Jim Yates, a two-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion, the plan looked solid. After winning in convincing fashion at Sonoma, Calif., Yates managed to put together a mathematical formula for winning a third championship. As good as his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac team had begun to look on the track, Yates was sure he could overtake season-dominator Warren Johnson. Then, amid all the hoopla of championship possibilities, Brainerd happened. The untimely DNQ (did not qualify) at the Minnesota quarter-mile deflated the team's strong momentum surge. "I thought going into Brainerd we were in pretty good shape towards making a run for the championship," Yates said. "That race stopped us dead in our tracks. It was a wake up call. We had all these expectations and felt like everything was within reach. When we didn't qualify, it made us look in the mirror and reevaluate our program." As Yates and his family-operated team prepare for the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Oct. 7-10 at Memphis Motorsports Park, a new plan has been developed. Now the objective is to win at all costs. They hope to do it at the $1.7 million race, the 19th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "We started the year with the best of intentions and we've had good times and bad, but I think overall the performance level of our machine has improved as we've made our way through the season," Yates said. "The bottom line is that in order to be successful, you need to perform, have horsepower, make good runs and win." With victories at St. Louis and Sonoma and a runner-up effort at Seattle, Yates knows the potential is there. Yates knows he can win at Memphis, he did it in 1997. He was runner-up at the Tennessee quarter-mile in 1996. "It's been one of those years where we've been able to reach that peak level of performance that you strive to achieve, and then dropped off," Yates said. "We're trying to win now, and our complete attention is focused on each event. I don't think there's any way to catch Warren at this point, so the next thing that counts is trying to win as many races as we can." Yates is currently fourth in the point standings, 203 behind second place driver Kurt Johnson and 418 behind points leader Warren Johnson. "Now that we're in the final half of the season, we're spending a lot more time swinging for the fence in an attempt to get that next win, rather than trying to protect a points lead," Yates said. "Sometimes that helps you get a win, but sometimes it hurts because you don't run as good. Our goal for the remaining four races of the year is to make final rounds, win as many as we can and try to get the No. 2 spot in the point standings."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson