Championship Drag Racing


NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals
Las Vegas, NV
(April 6-9)

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Driver Profile
Jim Yates
Wiley X Eyewear Pontiac GXP


Yates-Jenkins combination beginning to look like winner

Las Vegas, prerace: No Jim-come-lately to the intensely-competitive world of NHRA Pro Stock racing, Jim Yates has been in innumerable situations where he had to take chances. Roll the dice, if you will.

Over the course of 16-plus years, two championships (1996-97), 338 POWERade Series events, 24 victories and 381 round wins, many of the educated guesses he made have paid off.

Well, you can add another one to his list of successes – that of hiring Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, one of drag racing’s Pro Stock icons and well-respected engine tuners/builders.

Yates believed “Grump” horsepower was just what his SeaRay Boats/B&W Pontiac GTO needed to add more round wins to his growing total. Yates was as confident as a guy a pair of dice at a hot craps table, and it looks like he’s rolled another winner.

The Yates team, in Las Vegas for this weekend’s SummitRacing.com Nationals, is bubbling with enthusiasm after its runner-up finish at Houston Sunday. It wasn’t second place that engendered the fervor, it was getting there, and the belief the improving performances will continue for the remaining 19 series events.

“It was very good for our team to get to the final at Houston,” Yates said, “because we chased the tune-up on the engine from time we got there. We just kept tuning on the car (Sunday) and it just kept getting faster.

“Now, the problem is we have to go to Vegas, where the air (atmospheric conditions) is dryer. The air in Houston was the wettest we’ve ever had. And we were at sea level there and the altitude is going to be about 2000 feet at Vegas. But you know what? I’m not worried about it because I have Grump.”

Yates knew he could rely on Jenkins to supply a very important ingredient in the mix (horsepower) that determines race winners and, ultimately, championship contenders. But he needed to make a sacrifice or two before reaching the final decision.

That’s why Jim Yates drives his Pontiac GTO and the 18-wheel tractor-trailer that hauls it from race to race. It is a chore the Occoquan, Va.-based team owner doesn’t mind. Especially after he moved from 11th to eighth place in points (209) Sunday and is only 51 points out of third place.

He is one of a dwindling number of racers who does both.

“Basically, we only have so much funding to run our program,” Yates said. “That being the criteria, there are certain things I can do and certain things I can’t do. I can save money by driving the truck and use that money to purchase things that help improve our program and win races.”

With Jenkins Competition engines providing the horsepower, Jenkins tuning those power plants and Jamie Yates (Jim and Toni’s son) the team’s crew chief, Yates believes he not only spent wisely, but that he’s hit a winning combination.



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