NHRA Route 66 Nationals
Yates fouls out in first round
Chicago, Sunday: Jim Yates took a chance at the starting line and missed by nine-thousandths of a second in Sunday's opening Pro Stock round of the Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
Yates, the No. 13 qualifier, expected Dave Connolly to run quick, and he did, winning with a 6.833-second time at 202.52 mph. Yates, meanwhile, was pleased with the 6.887 his Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pontiac registered. The foul start was something that happens on occasion.
Yates missed a perfect light by nine-thousandths of a second. Yates, his crew chief/son Jamie and the rest of the team have been searching for a competitive combination and they believe they took steps in the right direction here in a race plagued by rain and inclement conditions. The weather, however, did not prevent Pro Stock drivers from making all four qualifying runs. Yates was particularly pleased with his fourth run at 6.858 seconds - his quickest.
"We had a good weekend in terms of learning about the motor and the clutch," said Yates. "We were concerned the clutch wouldn't work in the first round, but it did. We ran really good in the lane we were in. Most of the cars in the right lane ran in the 6.88-6.89 range. Connolly also ran really well. Even if I'd cut a perfect light, it wouldn't have made difference.
Yates to race Connolly Sunday
Chicago, Saturday: Jim Yates saved his best run for last during Saturday qualifying for Sunday's Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
Yates, of Occoquan, Va., drove the Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pro Stock Pontiac Grand Am to a quarter-mile time of 6.858 seconds at 200.35 mph and jumped into the No. 13 starting position. He races Dave Connolly (No. 4, 6.833 at 202.67) in the opening round.
Jason Line claimed the top spot on his last attempt with a 6.802 at 202.33.
"We were happy with the run," said Yates. "We have a lot of confidence in our car and tune-up. We struggled a little early -- changing motors for Saturday's runs -- and the motor responded to the changes we made."
Parts failure forces test session for Yates
Chicago, pre-race: The most direct driving route from Atlanta to Chicago may not go through St. Louis, but it's the road Jim and Toni Yates and the Sea Ray Boats/B&W Pro Stock Pontiac team chose.
No, they weren't sightseeing; they were headed for Gateway International Raceway in nearby Madison, Ill., to get in a few test runs before continuing to Joliet, site of this weekend's Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
The extra laps were necessitated by a rare clutch parts failure Saturday during Southern Nationals qualifying near Atlanta. The predicament forced a clutch change before their final qualifying attempt and the result was Yates did not qualify and dropped from the POWERade Series top 10.
"We need to make sure everything is working right before we get the track," said Yates. "The car ran really good last weekend until the clutch problem."
Yates was confident he would've been among the top eight starters Sunday had the clutch worked liked expected.
"The car made good runs twice Friday and again on our last attempt Saturday," Yates said. But the best qualifying conditions happened to coincide with the parts failure.
"I really felt we were on way to qualifying in the top half of the field," he continued. "That really helps on race day. We'd run well and we wanted to be in the starting lineup.
"We are anxious to get to Joliet and get back on the track. That's the good part about having several races in a row. I'd rather have it this way than have to sit around and think about what happened for week or so."
The Route 66 Nationals is the middle race of three in a row. The Summer Nationals are May 28-30 at Topeka, Kan.
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