Sonoma: Jim Yates preview

Cooler Weather Will Fit with Jim Yates' Plans for Sonoma Race SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2004 - The first 14 races of this NHRA Pro Stock season won't be ones to remember for performance marks when Jim and Toni Yates reminisce about them. If...

Cooler Weather Will Fit with Jim Yates' Plans for Sonoma Race

SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2004 - The first 14 races of this NHRA Pro Stock season won't be ones to remember for performance marks when Jim and Toni Yates reminisce about them.

If that should happen, chances are the conversation would be succinct.

Don't think the Yates family - eldest son Jamie is crew chief and younger son Jonathan works on the Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pontiac Grand Am during summer break from college -- is about to throw in the towel for 2004. Race No. 15 of 23 overall, the Fram Autolite Nationals, unfolds at Infineon Raceway Friday through Sunday, and it provides another opportunity to improve.

Yates' passion for the sport includes a solid, never-give-up attitude. If hard work won races, he'd be a serious contender every year.

"If anything, we are working harder now," said Jim, who spent the early part of the week testing at Woodburn, Ore., looking for answers to performance questions. "Bob Ingles, our engine builder, is busy in New York working on our new DRC3 motor. He keeps updating it so we'll be getting as the best motor he can build. We thought about bringing it here but decided to keep working on it. We should have it in time for the Brainerd (Minn.) race next month."

Yates is 13th in POWERade Series standings with 433 points, but he's only 92 points behind No. 10 Rickie Smith. Nine races, after all, offer a lot of chances for round wins.

"One of the problems we've had this year has been getting the car to leave the starting line quicker on a hot race track," Yates added. "When the track's warm, our 60-foot times drop and the car doesn't want to run very well.

"That works to our favor when it's been cool for either Friday's evening session or our Saturday morning run. It didn't work well in Seattle because it was hot there all day, every day of the race. According to the weather report for the Sonoma area, the temperatures will be cool at night and there may be some clouds in the mornings. That should be good for us."

Unseasonably hot temperatures in Seattle pushed close to 100 degrees last Friday and Saturday and the best Yates could run, 6.836 seconds at 201.94 mph, only put him 18th.

"That was disappointing, but we tested at Woodburn (Ore.) Monday and Tuesday before going to Sonoma," Yates said. "We did a lot of work on the car and made some improvements. We're going in the right direction. Unfortunately, while everyone was picking up their performances lately, we were treading water.

Yates, a veteran of Pro Stock competition, is a two-time series champion (1996-97). This will be his 603rd NHRA Pro Stock event. Three of his 24 race wins have come at Infineon Raceway - 1999, 1997 and 1995.

Yates will be ready when Pro Stock qualifying opens Friday with attempts at 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday's times are 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Rickie Smith