Columbus: GM Racing final qualifying summary

Jim Yates' Grand Am top qualifier for Pontiac Excitement Nationals. HEBRON, Ohio, June 15, 2002 - Qualifying for the 38th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing was completed today at National Trail Raceway. In Pro Stock,...

Jim Yates' Grand Am top qualifier for Pontiac Excitement Nationals.

HEBRON, Ohio, June 15, 2002 - Qualifying for the 38th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing was completed today at National Trail Raceway. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates took advantage of optimum atmospheric conditions during the morning session to put his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am on the pole for raceday. The two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion (1996-97) established a new elapsed time track record with a run of 6.862 seconds at 199.58 mph. It is the fourth consecutive race that Yates, the current points leader, has been the No. 1 qualifier and the fifth time this year he's started the Sunday eliminator from the top spot. Yates also has been the top qualifier 26 times during his career.

Warren Johnson is qualified third in a Pontiac Grand Am with an elapsed time of 6.878 seconds at 200.02 mph. It marks the 300th consecutive time that Johnson has successfully qualified for a race, a streak that date back to the 1987 Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Ron Krisher is qualified fourth in a Chevy Cavalier and Greg Anderson is fifth in a Cavalier setting a track-record top speed of 200.92 mph. Anderson's 6.882 e.t. in round four of time trials was the best of the final session. Summit Racing's Mark Pawuk finished qualifying in the No. 8 position with a run of 6.895 seconds at 198.45 mph.

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) "I think the biggest thing you run into in Pro Stock is that all of the cars are so close together that if you don't make a good run in every session, you may not qualify, and you certainly aren't going to win any rounds. The fact that out team is able to put together a combination that runs fast in Chicago, and runs fast in Topeka and runs fast here at National Trail Raceway, four races in a row to be the fastest car in qualifying, that says that we're not just one race wonders - and we're doing it facing all of the different conditions we've encountered. You've got to have performance to win races and right now we have really good performance. This week has been a tremendous credit to the crew. After the Chicago race and we qualified No. 1, we went to the GM wind tunnel and put the new SC/T Ram Air hood on our Pontiac Grand Am - a whole new front end on the car, went to the wind tunnel, tested it, came here and put it on the pole. It's almost like qualifying No. 1 with two separate cars. The aerodynamic package for the Ram Air Grand Am is considerably different from the old hood we had. When we came here, I didn't expect to qualify on the pole, but it looked better in the wind tunnel so you never know. We're in this for the long haul so if we didn't qualify No. 1 here, we felt we'd get it figured out for the next race. To come here and be better right away is a real credit to all the hard work everybody put into it."

What sort of advantage do the Ohio-based teams have? "In the first qualifying session a lot of those Ohio cars ran pretty good. I think Jeggie (Coughlin) was right there at the front of the pack, Mark Pawuk has run well, but they both have a lot of runs on this racetrack and they have an advantage. But that always happens when you have a track that you can test on. The more runs everyone else gets over the course of the weekend though, the more we get a chance to catch up and that's what has happened. We try to learn something on every run. You just can't sit still because there are 40 guys out there in the pits who are trying to pass you. If you don't try to move forward, you're going to get passed up pretty quick. I want to go out tomorrow and win first round. If I'm lucky enough o win first round then I want to win second round. I think you have to keep it in focus right in front of you. You can't look ahead. If we keep winning rounds, we're going to win a race. But if we get down on ourselves, then we're going to start questioning ourselves, then we may mistakes that may cause us not to qualify or not to win first round. I have to give credit to the competition. The reason we haven't won a race yet is that there is a lot of tough competition out here. We're a tough car and there are a lot of tough cars out here. On Sunday you have to be the toughest of the toughest and so far this year we haven't been able to manage that. But for the season, right now, we're the best of the best.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am) - "I was scared to death about qualifying here. We came here Wednesday night and our motor was down 15 horsepower on the dyno. We put another motor on the dyno and it showed that we were down too, so we were hoping it was just a weather thing with the dyno. But we came out this weekend and qualified the best we have all year. I actually didn't drive real well this morning and probably could've gone a little faster. But just to qualify at our sponsors race is great, and when you look at the cars that didn't qualify this weekend, and some of those guys have won a race, it just proves that the competition is fierce. But for Summit and Pontiac I'm proud to be able to race tomorrow in our slick new Grand Am with the new Ram Air hood. We're going to go out and try and do the best we can and hope that turns into winning some rounds."

Greg Anderson (Vegas Construction Chevrolet Cavalier) - "We're overall happy with the performance of our Chevy Cavalier. But we just missed a little bit on the car every run this weekend. That last qualifying session was the closest we've gotten, it's still not quite right but the motor is running great. We'll have it right tomorrow for first round - we have too. There are 16 cars within three or four hundredths again and if your car isn't perfect and the driver isn't perfect you go home early. The car is running good but there are a lot of cars out there that are running good. I'm just going to have to step up to the plate and do a good job tomorrow."

Did the weather throw you curve ball this weekend? "You know, we love when the clouds come out. It doesn't matter how hot or cold it is, if the clouds are out and the sun is off the track it just fixes so many problems. It really makes the car go down the track better. If you ask me to pick a sunny 60-degree day, or a cloudy 80-degree day, I would choose the cloudy 80-degree day. The only downside to this weather is that you can't rely on past years information on the track. I can't remember when it's been this cool here in June. You just have to go back to other tracks that you had conditions like this. This weekend kind of relates to Atlanta's conditions. What the weather really helped with was we had four qualifying sessions instead of just the Friday night session, so that meant if you screwed up during a session it was okay because you could still get in the following session. That takes a lot of stress off us. We're looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we'll put on a good show for the crowd."

-GM-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher