FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 YATES OVERCOMES DOUBTERS TO ENTER POMONA AS REPEAT CHAMPION POMONA, Calif. -- Maybe next year, Jim Yates' rivals and doubters will keep quiet. That might be...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761
YATES OVERCOMES DOUBTERS TO ENTER POMONA AS REPEAT CHAMPION
POMONA, Calif. -- Maybe next year, Jim Yates' rivals and doubters will keep quiet.
That might be the only way they have a chance to topple Yates as NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion.
Yates, from Alexandria, Va., rolled to his second consecutive NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship this season, winning a career-best nine races in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. He also overcame the departure of talented crew chief and engine builder Richard Maskin, who left the team in February after the second race of the season. Many rivals and observers whispered that Yates' house of cards would collapse after Maskin left.
"I think that's been one of our major motivations this year," Yates said. "We've taken what everybody said, talked about it, and written it down and looked at it. It just makes us all work that much harder.
"We know there are a lot of people who said we couldn't make this happen after Phoenix and the breakup of our team. We've all pulled together and we've all done a great job."
Yates will try to become only the second NHRA Pro Stock driver to win 10 races in one season at the 33rd annual, $1,466,600 Winston Finals, Nov. 6-9. It's the last race of the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.
Despite Maskin's departure, Yates has appeared in a career-best 12 final rounds this season. New crew chiefs Jerry Bickel and Rich Purdy, and engine builder Bob Ingles have made the decisions that have propelled Yates to a career-best time of 6.900 seconds and speed of 198.71 mph.
"We probably have a lot more motivation to win the championship in 1997 than we ever had in 1996," Yates said. "I don't think too many people will dismiss us as a contender in the future."