Pontiac's Jim Yates is hoping some midyear performance improvements in his Wiley
X Eyewear GTO will be just what the doctor ordered to secure a 15th career
top-10 finish. The veteran driver needs to get around a pair of pretty
formidable opponents with only three races remaining on the NHRA schedule, and
putting together a string of round wins at this weekend's 2nd annual Torco
Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals would go a long way in securing the desired outcome
for the resident of nearby Occoquan, Va.
"Right now we're excited," said
Yates. "We've come down to the end of the year, and we're in position to get a
top-10 finish and maybe get a race win. It's the same excitement you get at the
beginning of the season. It's so close that we feel like we can achieve it, and
we're going to do our best at the next three races to get there.
of the exciting things for us is to be a player in the Countdown. Not that we
are actually competing for the championship, but if we perform to our potential
we can have a lot of fun, and make or break it for some of the racers in the
Countdown. Being a spoiler is certainly a good reason to get out of bed and go
to work everyday. It makes it kind of fun. They put these Countdown cars up on a
pedestal, and we want to knock the legs off those pedestals and bring them back
down to earth a little bit. The last six or seven races we've had a pretty
strong showing. Bill Jenkins is working up there in Malvern, Pa., rebuilding
engines and giving us a good strong horse to ride."
Since late June,
the Wiley X Eyewear Pontiac has run markedly better than it did during the first
half of the season and the results have put Yates in position for a strong
finish to 2007. Currently 11th in the standings, Yates has advanced beyond the
first round in five of his last six starts including a semifinal round run at
Memphis and a No. 2 qualifying effort, his best of the year, at Indianapolis.
That has moved him to within 10 points of 10th-place V. Gaines and to within 52
points of ninth-place Richie Stevens Jr.