Seattle Jim Yates interview (Pro Stock)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 DEFENDING WINSTON CHAMPION YATES SHOWING CONFIDENCE IN PRO STOCK KENT, Wash. -- There's no swagger in his step. There's no loss of respect for his opponents. ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

DEFENDING WINSTON CHAMPION YATES SHOWING CONFIDENCE IN PRO STOCK KENT, Wash. -- There's no swagger in his step. There's no loss of respect for his opponents. But there also is no uncertainty in Jim Yates' mind about his ability to win the NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship this season. There may have been a bit of doubt in his mind during the title run last year, but not now. He knows he can win. He plans to win. Yates, from Alexandria, Va., overcame pressure from rival Warren Johnson and himself to win his first Winston championship last season in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. He pulled away from three-time Winston champion Johnson, who defeated Yates in a close race for the 1995 title. "We're more at ease with where we're at," Yates said. "We've won a championship. We know we're not going to choke. We've been on pace with Warren the last two years. We've had a lot of obstacles, and when the chips go down, I think we can win it because we've done it before." Yates led the NHRA Winston standings by 64 points over Johnson after 12 races this season. He will try to extend his lead at the 10th annual, $1,246,750 Northwest Nationals, Aug. 1-3 at Seattle International Raceway. The race is the 14th event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. The biggest obstacle Yates hurdled this season came after the second race, in February at Phoenix. Engine builder and crew chief Richard Maskin, whom many considered the keystone to Yates' success, left the team. But Yates has earned three of his four victories since Maskin left. "It makes me realize that the ball is in my hands," Yates said. "When Dick was here, he did a lot. I know I don't have him to lean on. But I like being in control. I enjoy that. You just have to work harder. If you complain about working hard, you shouldn't be out here."

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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