PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PONTIAC EXCITEMENT NATIONALS SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 1998 COLUMBUS, OHIO PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) I think we were about third quickest in the first session. We had a little malfunction...
PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PONTIAC EXCITEMENT NATIONALS SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 1998 COLUMBUS, OHIO
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) I think we were about third quickest in the first session. We had a little malfunction on the starting line. The track was changing extremely fast with removal of the cloud cover and we didn't think anyone was going to improve drastically to the point that they would move to the head of the pack. Overall, we're pleased with where the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird is right now. No. 2 qualifier 7.051ET/196.33MPH
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We basically knew last night that if we put some clutch in the car we could move up to the middle of the pack. We were a little nervous going into the session because the track looked so good. Not only did we add a lot of clutch to it, but we went ahead and tweaked the carburetor just a little bit and it really picked up the Splitfire Pontiac Firebird on the back half of the race track, running a lot closer to what it's supposed to run. I think it has a lot more in it, we just have to figure out exactly what we have to do with these carburetors. We're a little timid right now and hopefully, with the session getting warmer this afternoon and this car being solidly in the field, we're going to go ahead and make a big move on the carburetors and see if we can get it closer to the pack. No. 7 qualifier 7.067ET/194.04MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) Right now we still have lane choice for tomorrow. We were in the right lane for the first session this morning, made a pretty decent run, but we're a little softer than we should have been with the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird. There are some bumps at the transition in the third or fourth gear shift, it upsets our car and it hurt our ET on the back half. I really thought the morning session would be faster because it’s been quite a bit cooler today. We're going to be back in the left lane this afternoon, so if the weather stays the way it is, we may be able to run even faster than we did yesterday. No. 10 qualifier 7.080ET/194.17MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) The tires started spinning in first gear and as soon as I put it in second, it went berserk. We were really trying to go fast and were pushing our Outlaw Pontiac Firebird a little bit. We can adjust. We're in the good lane later so that will work in our favor. I know we can reach the field.
Second Session: We don't know what's wrong. It's got us baffled. The track conditions were favorable and we don't have a good reason as to why the car reacted the way it did. Sometimes in racing you dance a fine line between everything being perfect and everything seemingly being wrong. When things are good, you don't always it. On the other hand, you have times like this when the problem you have is real hard to find. It's frustrating and disappointing. No. 21 qualifier 7.107ET/193.50MPH
Tom Martino (Six Flags Pontiac Firebird) This Six Flags Pontiac Firebird definitely runs much better when the transmission uses all five gears instead only three of the five. That's what happened to us last night. The trans went one, three, five and skipped two and four. We still went 7.13 so we figured that we wouldn't have any problem running today as long as we fixed the trans. We made an OK run, we were just trying to be a little on the safe side and slide on down there, a little light on the clutch, but it still ran a 7.08. I'm pretty sure we could have run a 7.06 or 7.07. No. 11 qualifier 7.081ET/194.09MPH
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) The Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird was perfect through first and second gear. But right as I shifted to third, I hit some water and almost went to the wall. There is water all over that right lane. The sun came out and started drawing all the moisture out of the asphalt. I hope it stays cool enough to run faster this afternoon. I'd like to move up.
Second Session: I went right in one lane and left in the other. As soon as you get away from the middle of the track here you hit the loose stuff and start to spin. I would have liked to have qualified a little higher than we did, but I'm still happy with how everything turned out for the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird. The bottom line is, you have to win four races on Sunday. It really doesn't matter who you race or what order you start in, you still have to beat the other guy down the track. The neighborhood bragging rights are on the line here. We have to show them who's best. Otherwise, we'll never hear the end of it. No. 8 qualifier 7.070ET/195.22MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) As far as we're concerned, this Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird has run hard every session. We corrected our mistake from last night, I made some adjustments and we're right where we want to be. Wes (Cerny), myself and the entire team are communicating well with a goal to put this car in the winner's circle tomorrow night. We're just going to continue to do what we're doing, one round at a time, and that will be our strategy on Sunday. I can't really say anything but positive things about this program, and when you look at it, that's the way it's been all year. We still feel that as the season progresses, we continue to make incremental improvements, that's even though you may not notice it, we are getting better and better. We have Dave Hutchens here working with us now, and he, myself and Wes are focusing on a lot of things. I've been driving these cars for a long time but I'm still learning. Personally, I'm having more fun than I've had in quite a while and there's no question that we have the team and the car to win the championship. The car does what we want it to do and that's about all we can ask for. Our goal before we even started the car this season was to be able to have a setup that ran hard every time out, consistently, so that it doesn’t matter what track we’re racing on. I have to credit the NHRA and the different track owners who are responsible for prepping the facilities. The longer concrete pads and other factors help, but Wes Cerny's goal at the beginning of the year was to be able to run quick and fast no matter where we go. We make some adjustments, of course, but there's a window between 4.88 and 4.92 that we nail almost every time out. That says a lot about what this team has done and what it's capable of doing.
Second Session: I'm just happy that we were able to get that last run in. I think the 4.92 that was disqualified last night would have been good enough for the No. 1 spot so it's nice to get it back. I made some adjustments last night to the way I was driving this car. This track is great but you really have to change your driving style a little bit. Wes made a few changes on the front end of our Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird to make it go straighter and the car's doing what it's getting paid to do. The fact that we've been able to run right at 4.88, 4.89 all year is incredible. This is a brand new race track and it's yielding times that's been an average for us all season. We've got the closest thing there is to a bracket car and believe me, that's not easy to do. I'’s been a few years since we've had a car like that and I'm just thrilled to be a part of it. Wes Cerny is the guy who makes the calls, my crew prepares the car for every race and that's the key to this program. Wes has a handle on the car. I like him because he knows exactly where he is on the car, he doesn't get excited when we make a run that slips up a little bit and he goes right back to what he knows. He said to me before the year started that we wanted to have a car that will run regardless of where it is and that's what he's done here. Our Pontiac Firebird Funny Car doesn't know it's in Columbus, he doen't want it to know it's anywhere else and I think that's why yo're seeing the consistent numbers.
I don't know how he's doing it and don't even want to know. I justget in it and drive. No. 1 qualifier 4.888ET(track record)/309.27MPH(trackrecord)
Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) We’re going up there and this GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird is doing what it’s supposed to do, which it hasn’t done in awhile. We’ve basically just tried to step it up a little each time. That first session we got a little close to the center line and I just shut it off. It was still pretty much on target. We were looking to run a low five-oh. We got the clutch still working pretty good. We've got it calmed down, way down pretty early, it's not hurting itself and we haven’t hurt anything all weekend. Everything looks pretty good. The race day combination, at the least the first couple of rounds, we figure a 5.05 should get us to the next round. But we do know how to turn it up. When it comes time to do that, we'll make that move. No. 9 qualifier 5.073ET/291.35MPH
Del Worsham (Checker-Schucks-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We were talking earlier about how it seems like when we struggle, when we're going into Saturday, that we never get it done in the first run, we always end up going down to the last session to make the program. So we decided to end that streak, change some things up and break the routine. I guess wearing a different undershirt beneath my firesuit worked. Seriously, we're still getting a handle on this new Pontiac Firebird Funny Car and how it likes to be tuned. Some of what we’re finding out is actually kind of backward from the way we're used to. When we smoked the tires twice yesterday, what we really needed was to step on it some more, and that takes some guts when you’re not in the show. But now we can work on the tune-up and think about racing instead of qualifying.
Second Session: As much as we've been struggling to get in on the last session it’s a pretty darn good thing that we broke the string and made the field in the first session this morning with a strong 5.09. That gave us the opportunity to try and step on it hard and we blew the tires right off. We have John Force in the first round and we have a losing streak against him that seems like it dates back to the late 1950s. We plan on ending it tomorrow morning. No. 11 qualifier 5.096ET/293.73MPH
Cory McClenathan (McDonald’s Pontiac) We haven't really run that good this weekend. I think since we've changed the motor combination, horsepower isn't a problem, it's just trying to get it to the ground the right way. We’ve rattled the car and spun the tires more in the last two races than we have all season. We're starting to get a handle on it though. This last run, we weren't qualified and we needed to get in the field, ran a 4.69 at 293. I shut it off a little bit early. But we need to be running in the low 4.60s in the 4.62 or 4.63 area to win here tomorrow. Our McDonald’s Pontiac has been so consistent lately that it’s hard to be upset about anything. If this is the worst it gets, I'll be OK with it. No. 10 qualifier 4.698ET/292.77MPH
Shelly Anderson (Parts America Pontiac) We found a problem during the last Saturday qualifying session in Chicago and in the first round on Sunday, we had the second lowest ET. As you can imagine, we were real happy with that. We had lane choice over Scelzi in the second round, we broke an intake and we couldn't win with that, but we were looking forward to coming here hoping that we had indeed found the problem. It looks like from the way we've run this weekend that we have. We'd like to go a couple of rounds tomorrow but to be honest with you, we want to win a couple of races. It would be a great shot in the arm for the entire Parts America Pontiac team. High 4.60s consistently tomorrow, we feel, will win this race. The track makes it tricky and not only is a crew chief's direction imperative tomorrow but a driver's skill as well. A driver has to know how to pedal to recover and sometimes you can go to a race track where a crew chief is the key and at some tracks the driver is the key. At this track, it's about equal. No. 8 qualifier 4.679ET/309.59MPH