PONTIAC RACING NOTES & QUOTES THIRD ANNUAL CASTROL NATIONALS TEXAS MOTORPLEX DALLAS (April 24, 1999) Qualifying was completed today at the Texas Motorplex for the Third Annual Castrol Nationals. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson nailed down his ...
PONTIAC RACING NOTES & QUOTES THIRD ANNUAL CASTROL NATIONALS TEXAS MOTORPLEX
DALLAS (April 24, 1999) Qualifying was completed today at the Texas Motorplex for the Third Annual Castrol Nationals. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson nailed down his fifth consecutive No. 1 qualifying spot of the year when his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird covered the quarter mile this morning with an elapsed time of 6.904 seconds at 200.22 mph. It is the fifth time this year that the four- time Winston champion has started from the top position. Mike Thomas is qualified third, Mark Pawuk is fourth, Jim Yates is fifth, Steve Schmidt is ninth and Tom Martino is 12th. George Marnell and Bruce Allen did not make the 16-car field.
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon is the highest qualified Firebird in the No. 3 position with a run of 4.912 seconds at 310.34 mph. Del Worsham is qualified eighth, Tim Wilkerson is qualified 10th, Al Hofmann is 12th and Dale Creasy Jr., is 15th. John Force is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.887 seconds at 315.45 mph.
In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan's MBNA/Pontiac is qualified 11th with an elapsed time of 4.650 seconds at 306.85 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Larry Dixon who had a qualifying pass of 4.545 seconds at 316.12 mph.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We hurt our No. 1 motor yesterday, so we went back to 'Old Reliable' from last year. Of course, it's not too bad for a back-up - it won nine races last season! It's power curve is different from the engine we ran yesterday, so we had to compensate with the clutch and chassis. We also had to compensate for a significant change in both the track and weather today. The car went right down the track this morning. That run corrected to 6.79, and our best correction to date is 6.77, so we didn't leave much on the table. We were a little off in 60-foot compared to the quickest times in the left lane, but we were only one thousandth off the quickest 60-feet in the right lane.
"We anticipate that the conditions this afternoon will be similar to what we'll race with tomorrow unless there is a dramatic change in the weather. We tried to go over the edge so we could back up a little from there." No. 1 qualifier - 6.904ET/200.22
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We've been trying to find a tune up for this combination that will run in this high humidity. We worked on it during the whole race at Houston and both days here this weekend. I've think we've finally come up with something on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird - a little twitch on the timing and a change in the jet in the bleed seemed to work . The graph looks like it had a little left in it on the track but I think the engine was running up to optimum power. We'll tweak it another thousandth or so tomorrow and try to keep heading in that direction to see if we can find some more performance. This new motor keeps coming around every race. We just need to get it towards the front. Tomorrow we're just going to take it one round at a time. You've heard it before but the competition right now is just tight. Look at how many cars are qualified so close together. It's going to be tough and there's not much difference in lanes out there right now, but it's going to be a driver's race and it will come down to who lets the clutch out on time. We're going to step up with the car a little bit and extrapolate the combination we ran today a little further for tomorrow. We can't afford to sit still with what we've done today. I think there's maybe a hundredth left in this Firebird if we keep going the right way. We'll tune the engine up a little bit more and take a little clutch out of it because we were too aggressive on that run. The key will be to run a 6.92 or 6.93 in the morning. We knew that the evening session today was good enough for us to step up. It wasn't better than this morning, but we missed it by a bunch so we knew the opportunity was there to make a move. We also realized that we had to make a good run just to stay in the top half of the field, so we were trying to run as fast as we possibly could. Yesterday we kept knocking the clutch out, but today we finally figured out how to get up on the tire. It's got another click left in it and it has to come back a little closer to slipping the clutch a little bit more to where we'll be ready to go." No. 5 qualifier - 6.957ET/197.75MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "Our team's starting to flow together, everybody's doing a great job and we're all thinking alike. We have more power, so even if we make a marginal run we run pretty fast. The crew on our Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird have done a great job of getting this car to make consistent runs so that we can establish a data base that we can tune from. That's why we've been consistent all weekend. If we continue to run fast then maybe we can have a good day tomorrow. I think there's something left in this Firebird. We made a good run, but we didn't hit it real close in the first round. We ran pretty good here last fall and got about everything out of it that we could. I think we can run a little faster but I'm certain that everyone else feels the same way. Just to be solid in the field is a good feeling because that gives us the opportunity to try something different for race day."
Second Session: "This is probably the most consistent the Summit Racing Firebird has run in a long time. My driving has improved somewhat this weekend. If we can make some good runs tomorrow along with cutting lights like I have been this weekend, we have as good a shot as anybody. Warren (Johnson) definitely has the field covered, but if he stumbles we want to be there to take advantage of an opportunity. On race day everyone comes in with new approach and we're looking forward to having a good day." No. 4 qualifier - 6.944ET/198.36MPH
Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) "The Dynagear Pontiac Firebird made a real nice run during that first session. We've been doing that all weekend. The crew did a real good job and we had a little bit left, but not a lot. We've been making some dramatic changes on the car every run in an attempt to figure out what this Firebird likes. We've had three different hood scoops on it, two or three different chassis changes, we're getting closer but we're still not there. I think we have maybe a hundredth or two left. We've been very fortunate in that we've gone pretty straight on every run. We had a little trouble in yesterday's first qualifying session, but all in all we've been pretty straight. This is an extremely treacherous place to get out of the groove and you're asking for a lot of trouble if you get out of it very far. We're pretty happy with our ability to qualify in the top half of the field on every run. Like I said earlier, we had a little trouble in Houston but have been able to come in here and run well in the heat. We're just trying to get a setup where we can qualify well under adverse conditions because that's something that will be more realistic to what we have to do on race day. There's a big difference between running at noon on Sunday after four days of racing, and seven o'clock on Friday night when the sun's been off the track --it's two different worlds. If we get some cloud cover, if it doesn't rain and it cools off, then it will be a whole new ballgame in the morning just like it was today. It's pretty rare to see after two qualifying rounds a bump drop from 7.08 all the way down to a 7.01and low elapsed time go from a 6.98 to a 6.90. An eight hundredths move in the field is a pretty dramatic change." No. 9 qualifier - 6.979ET/197.88MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) "We just can't win for losing lately. It seems like whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. We were optimistic after yesterday when it appeared we were moving in the right direction and then this (blown engine during first round burnout) happens. It's disappointing but we can't mope around for long because we still have a decent shot at getting in the field later today. We're running after the fuel cars tonight so if they delayed we could be running pretty late. That would definitely help, especially if the weather stays cool and the sun doesn't come out. With all the crew from the shop and their families here we desperately want to put The Outlaw Pontiac Firebird in the show. We've got our work cut out for us." No. 22 qualifier - 7.030ET/196.37MPH
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "The car is finally running to its potential. We need to continue to improve, especially tomorrow, and get involved in the points chase again. We have a contender in this Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird and we're now searching for a way to win another race. I've revamped the crew and we're literally looking better every lap. Adding Rick Hickman as our new crew chief and Gary Rost as our new clutch tech has really made a difference. Plus Ansel Richards, Kyle Beeler and Chad Tigert continue to do a great job for our team." No. 3 qualifier - 6.933ET/198.54MPH
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) "I've got mixed emotions and looking at guys who I know are faster than me, realistically we're probably 13th. We're not entirely certain that we know what this Century 21 Pontiac Firebird wants. It's not a bad car, we just haven't been smart enough yet to figure it out. I don't want to say that we have plenty of power, but we can run the back half with the best of them with the exception of Warren (Johnson). He went 200.22 and the next guy went 198.50. We went 197.40 so we're still a mile-an-hour off the next fastest guy, but I think that's where our motor program is. We're in the middle of the pack power-wise, but what's hurt us so far this year is that we haven't done one thing on the dyno except rebuild our stuff. We haven't tested anything. We have a brand new motor under the bench that we think is as good if not better than what we have now, and maybe goes down the track better, but how do we know?
"So we'll work on tuning the car up. Now that it is responding some, we're going to reassess where we are with the setup and go on from there. After Virginia, we'll put the number three motor in and go run it for three or four days. We'll spend the first day trying to get as fast as we can with the combination we're working with, and then we'll go back to where we think the car should run." No. 12 qualifier - 6.988ET/197.49MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "Tonight the Interstate Batteries Firebird made an excellent run and did what we were looking for it to do. The team's pretty happy with that. This place has been tricky all weekend and Wes (Cerny) made some good calls to get it to run the numbers. This is the kind of place where you rely on the skill of the people reading the track and the atmospheric conditions and we're ready to race. The car responded well to what we wanted to do. We ran a 4.93 and a 4.91 and the other two runs were what we need to do to get to those times. We'll come out here tomorrow, use that last session for a baseline, and do our best. As we come into these races, we're introducing new aerodynamic features on the Firebird to make it more competitive. Each run we overcome a new learning curve because the data we gather is critical not only to what we do tomorrow, but for the rest of the season. The runs where we didn't make it down the track actually contribute to the overall success of the package. We're not entirely where want to be, but for us to be running those kind of numbers in the top three of the field really says a lot for our team and what we're able to do. We're learning and performing at the same time." No. 3 qualifier - 4.912ET/310.34MPH
Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "Since we've put this new set of tires on we've lost about 500 rpm in driveshaft speed. We got it a little light on the front end, but this Firebird tried to smoke the tires as soon as I stepped on the gas. We had a set of tires on that we used in Houston, and on the first two runs here the driveshaft speed was slow. We put the new tires on this morning and all of sudden we have 500 rpm of driveshaft speed that we didn't expect. In all fairness though, the blower got of time and made the motor week. This afternoon the motor was good and stout, whizzed the driveshaft up there pretty good, but the car was in trouble before it moved the first inch. This is always a strange place this time of year. Not to mention that they've thrown the weather test at us this weekend. The gameplan tomorrow is that we'll put the old tires back on it because they really weren't that bad to begin with. We'll go back to the setup we used when it went down the track both times on Friday and try to step it up just a touch to run a middle 4.90. We have to run Bazemore in the first round, and even though they're running good, qualifying is qualifying and race day is a whole different program. I think we have a good chance against them and we'll go out and do our best. I don't know if we can run 4.91 but I'm sure we can run a middle 4.90." No. 12 qualifier - 5.045ET/283.37MPH
Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) "This morning the JCIT Pontiac Firebird would have been just fine except we pushed an o-ring out of the fuel pump at the end of the track. It labored a little bit, and I shut it off or may have been ugly. The car lost fuel pressure and started to nose over a little bit, so I knew it wasn't right so I shut it off. It wasn't going anywhere so there was no use in running it any farther. It dropped a thousand rpm in less than a second. I could feel it in the middle of the racetrack where it usually locks the clutch up and knew that something wasn't right. Tonight we'll take it up there and try and run a 4.95 and get ready for tomorrow. There haven't been too many cars that have made it down the racetrack in every session and that could be a good indication of what will happen when we line up to race in the morning." No. 10 qualifier - 5.001ET/301.40MPH
Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "Usually speed just comes with elapsed time, and when people get to talking about mile per hour it's nothing more than bragging rights since we live in an ET world around here. But we knew we needed to run faster to run quicker. I couldn't get over how we still had never run faster than 305 in my career. So 308 is a real nice step in the right direction. We knew we'd have a heck of a time ever running in the 4.80s if we couldn't get over 305. That was such a pretty run in the first session. We've been working on that for a while now - a really nice full power pass with some speed and a decent elapsed time. We actually backed the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird down at the last second in the staging lanes because the Top Fuelers and the first few Funny Cars were all struggling with traction, especially in the right lane. So a 4.97 is good, but we can run better than that. The 308 just tells me we're able to make good power at the top end. That's a good race-day tune up right there." No. 8 qualifier - 4.977ET/308.32MPH
Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "The Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird was running great, and then at about halftrack it went into a vibration. I lost vision for a split second and when it finally came back, the car was drifting towards the centerline. I was turning the wheel but the car wouldn't respond, and right at about the finish line when I hit the cone there was nothing I could do. One of the tires was in the groove, and one of them wasn't and that kind of pushed me in that direction. I'm not making any excuses that's just what happened. It was a great run and I knew it because it usually doesn't do anything stupid at halftrack. If it spins the tires at that point I can drive it on through and salvage the run. I think the vibration was caused by the tires spinning but it wasn't anything I couldn't drive through. I could still see but it just took away my clear vision. I guess I should have turned the wheel harder. We'll be all right -- she's back now and running good. We lost a lap yesterday for whatever reason and put it back to where we had it before so we'll be okay." No. 15 qualifier - 5.078ET/292.39MPH