PAWUK CONFIDENT OF VICTORY HEADING INTO COLUMBUS COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 3 ,1999) - This season marks the third year since Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird Pro Stock driver Mark Pawuk began development of his team's in-house engine program.
PAWUK CONFIDENT OF VICTORY HEADING INTO COLUMBUS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 3 ,1999) - This season marks the third year since Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird Pro Stock driver Mark Pawuk began development of his team's in-house engine program. After encountering and overcoming the initial growing pains inherent in any tremendous undertaking, it now appears that the investment is starting to pay off for the Buckeye State native. After a two-year absence from the Winston top 10 that saw Pawuk's team floundering in frustration, the Summit Racing program rebounded last year with a late-season surge that saw them finish the 1998 campaign in tenth place. "I can't tell you what a victory that was for us," said Pawuk. "The last two seasons we've struggled with different situations and have had a lot of bad luck. In 1997, we were running strong and then suffered the crash at Woodburn that just about buried us. Trying to reconcile that catastrophe with everything else we were trying to do with our engine program kind of got us off track. "Now we're starting to get a lot closer to where we need to be. We got hot towards the end of last year when the car was really running great. I made a couple of driving mistakes that cost us a couple of rounds, but it was really encouraging to see the Summit Racing Firebird beginning to run up to its potential." In 1999, Pawuk embarks on his 13th campaign as a Pro Stock racer on the NHRA Winston championship tour. Over the course of his career, he has won four national events and raced in 13 final rounds. His first win came at Houston in 1992 and his last victory came at Memphis in 1995. He has finished in the top 10 in the points standings eight times (1988, 1990-95, 1998). "I'm extremely lucky because I've been blessed with the ability to make a living out of something I truly enjoy," said Pawuk. "A few years ago, I set goals for myself and my team to win a national event, which I have accomplished a few times, and to win a Winston championship. In 1990, we held the national elapsed-time record which is something I never expected. But my goal now is to win a national championship for my sponsors, Summit Racing and Pontiac Firebird." Last year, after failing to qualify at the season opener at Pomona, Pawuk steadily fought his way back into the Winston top 10 qualifying at 18 races with 11 of those efforts putting him in the top half of the field. His best performance came at the Revell Nationals in Dallas when he qualified second. But this season, he's not only maintained that momentum, he's intensified it, rocketing to career-bests at the Pennzoil Nationals in elapsed time at 6.883 seconds, and top speed at 200.08 mph. The evidence clearly suggests that Pawuk's engine program is up to par and ready to compete for a Pro Stock title. The performance on the racetrack proves it. After eight events, Pawuk has qualified in the top half of the field seven times. At Gainesville and Englishtown he was third, and at Dallas he was fourth. "I didn't think it was going to be possible for us to break 200 mph at Richmond," Pawuk said. "I knew there was a slight chance, but the Summit Racing Firebird was moving around, shaking and spinning the tires. I decided to go for it, stayed in it and we were able to stick it in there. I'm really proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year and the 200 mph run is just a small part of it. Now we have to convert that into some strong race day performances. "Rob Downing is back as crew chief and has done a great job handling those responsibilities. The rest of the guys on the team and back at the engine shop have also done a tremendous job making our Firebird a faster race car. The game plan going in to the last half of the season stays the same; work even harder, win rounds, win races and try to think of a way to catch Warren Johnson."