Third Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals Gateway International Raceway Madison, Illinois Sunday, June 27, 1999 Pro Stock Race Winner Post Race Interview Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We really have a problem with this engine...
Third Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals Gateway International Raceway Madison, Illinois Sunday, June 27, 1999 Pro Stock Race Winner Post Race Interview
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We really have a problem with this engine right now trying to find a tune up that will run in these air conditions. We struggled with it all weekend at Columbus, and we thought that we had it figured out in the first round there because we ran really fast, but we came here and struggled with it all weekend. We've messed with the timing, we've messed with the carburetors, we've done everything but change motors, and maybe that's what we needed to do because we've gone everywhere we can with the engine, and what it had today was all there was. We just accepted that and decided to build on what we had to work with. We were ready to change motors after the first round, but stopped from doing that because deep down we felt we could win this race with this engine if we just tuned it correctly. We got every last bit out of it. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird did everything it could do. It was getting to the 60-foot so fast you just can't believe it. I had excellent reaction times; a .413 in the final, but the car itself gets a lot of credit for that. We needed every bit of it to win the race because it was door to door on the other end. Bob Ingles (engine builder) has been busting his tail getting the motors to work right and we've done a lot of work on it trying to get a combination that will work in these air conditions. It's been difficult but we have a good car to put it in. I'm driving well and all of the ingredients are in place to make a run to the front. This team just sticks together and that's what we need to do to stay competitive. We're going to Denver early to test and get ready for that race.
What does it feel like to get the win with this team working as hard as it is? Everybody works very hard and it makes it easier when you're winning races. We learned that for two years when we won 18 races during that time frame. So no matter how hard you worked, you were only a couple of weeks away from some recognition. We've gone the last year and a half without winning and some people have basically counted us down and out. That has everyone working even harder and even though we recognize it on the team, others outside our camp may not see it. To come out here and win with everyone working as hard as they just are gives the whole team that little extra pat on the back.
How did you like the night competition? This is the best move that the NHRA has made in a long time. To come in here and race at night, and unfortunately we had a little rain delay today, but it was great racing under the lights and the fans just have to love it. It just really brings out the best in this sport. This sport looks good under the lights and it's a lot of fun to race at night I can tell you that.
Does this win make up for some of the other races that were in your grasp but slipped away? Hard work doesn't win races by itself. You have to be in the right place at the right time and be doing the right things. We finally put it all together here today. We've lost a lot of races that we could have won today. Today we made up for it and things worked in our favor. We were able to get some good wins under our belt round after round and that makes a big difference. There's a lot of tough competition out here right now and you have to take everyone seriously. I was just extremely satisfied with the way the car worked and ran. I feel very comfortable in this Firebird and it didn't matter which lane we were in. We just need to get the motor figured out a little more, it has plenty of power, but we have to figure out how to get it down the racetrack.
Was this the day when everything fell into place for you this weekend? We felt lucky last night that we even qualified. We were terribly concerned that we were going to get bumped out in the last session. We have not had a handle on the racetrack all weekend. In fact we changed the car all around in the first round and ran terrible. We were lucky to get by Steve Schmidt in the first round. He out ran us but we beat him on a holeshot. We knew we were at a little bit of a deficit because of our power problem, then we switched carburetors around again and after that we ran pretty good. We've had three sets of carburetors on the car, we've used three different ignitions and we've changed everything; two rear ends, two transmissions, I mean we've been throwing pieces at it trying to get it right. We finally found a combination that wasn't the fastest combination out here, but it was consistent, we could cut lights with it, we could race with it and we could win with it. That's the bottom line!