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Yates’ semifinal finish lifts him to fifth
Yates, who was fighting to stay in the top 10 two races ago, now is in fifth place with 283 points. He was runner-up a week ago in Houston and defeated Shaun Carlson and Richie Stevens Jr. in the first two rounds Sunday.
“We had great day,” Yates said after losing to Dave Connolly, 6.882 seconds at 201.58 mph to 6.867 at 201.22. The deciding margin came at the starting line, where Connolly left first.
“Our Pontiac GTO is running good. Jamie (Yates, Jim and Toni’s son/crew chief) and Grump (engine builder/tuner Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins) are making the right decisions with the car and motor (respectively). We have a lot of potential; we’ve turned it around in a short period of time. You need momentum and performance.” And right now, the team has both.
The Yates/Jenkins duo, now five races old, is a work in progress, and they definitely like the direction things are going.
Yates is now 86 points (less than five rounds of racing) out of first place in a tight championship chase with 18 races remaining.
Yates began eliminations as the fifth-quickest qualifier on a tricky LVMS track (6.793 at 203.19 mph). He beat Carlson with a 6.835 at 202.03 to an 11.659 at 75.74 and made the semifinals with a 6.896 at 201.25 mph decision over Stevens’ 6.912 at 201.55.
“We are happy with the way we’ve been running . . . but we aren’t satisfied, ” said Yates. “We know we have more potential and more performance left. We just have to go out and get it.”
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