Phoenix Jim Yates interview (PRO STOCK)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 YATES IS RELAXED IN ATTEMPT FOR REPEAT PRO STOCK CHAMPIONSHIP CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Now that Jim Yates has the big bull's eye pinned on his back as the defending NHRA...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

YATES IS RELAXED IN ATTEMPT FOR REPEAT PRO STOCK CHAMPIONSHIP

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Now that Jim Yates has the big bull's eye pinned on his back as the defending NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion, he feels more relaxed about racing than ever.

That's quite a change from the last two years, when Yates and the McDonald's team turned the screws tighter every week in search of their first title.

Yates, from Alexandria, Va., faced heavy pressure in 1995, when he battled with and eventually lost to Warren Johnson for the NHRA Winston championship. Last year, Yates turned up the pressure even higher on himself and his team to win the title after sweeping the first three races.

"We won the championship last year, and that's history," Yates said. "We put too much pressure on ourselves. We took a big lead on Warren, got ahead of him and knew we had to beat him. This year we're just going to enjoy it and let it fall where it may. As long as we're performing as well as we can perform, that's the best we can do."

That might be good enough. Yates' McDonald's Pontiac Firebird one of the quickest and fastest Pro Stock cars entering the 13th annual, $1,392,050 ATSCO Nationals, Feb. 20-23 at Firebird International Raceway. The race is the second event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

Part of Yates' more relaxed approach in 1997 involves time management. He'll be the first to admit it's not his strong suit, but he's working on it. He had plenty of practice during the offseason, making 75 test runs, spending a week with U.S. sailors on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise, managing his growing auto parts chain and spending time with his family.

"Over the winter there were a lot of demands, but it was well worth it," Yates said. "You have to learn to manage that."

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 and continues at 6 p.m. that date with the first night qualifying session of the season. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Feb. 23. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. Feb. 20. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the ATSCO Nationals. Call Firebird International Raceway at (800) DRAG-INFO or (602) 268-0200 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Dillard's. To order through Dillard's, call (800) 638-4253. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day, final-round competition from the ATSCO Nationals at 7:30 p.m. (MST) Feb. 23. ESPN2 also will televise Friday-night qualifying for the first time with a two-hour, same-day show starting at 7:30 p.m. (MST) Feb. 21. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson