DENVER, Colo., July 21, 2001 - Second-day qualifying notes and quotes from the 22nd annual Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "We have one more run down the racetrack, and we'll make some more changes on the car - we're really not very happy with where we are right now. The car's running decent enough to win the race, at the same time we want it to run a lot smoother than what it is right now. We'll make some changes, assess what we've done and hopefully it will be enough on Sunday. Overall we're in good shape. The only thing we were trying to do when we here testing was get in the ballpark on gear ratios and engine tune-up. We knew the track would throw us a curve when we got here for the national event because of the way it is treated. We saw that in the first Pro Stock session when the first six to eight cars had to shut off in the middle of the racetrack because it was so slippery. Once more runs are made on the track it begins coming to us, and that is what's happening here. This is such a drastic change from where we race normally that you have to have some sort of a baseline to go on. Normally we're looking at 2000 to 3000 feet in relative altitude and here we're looking at 9000 to 10,000 feet. Everything is riding on one shot on Friday night so you'd better be adequately prepared. This morning we knew if there was going to be any position shuffling it would be insignificant so we weren't concerned about it. Based on that we tried something this morning, and just overstepped it a little bit, but we'll be all right.
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am) - "We've been over this car from one end to the other. We tested the Summit Racing Grand Am here last week, ran pretty good and then took all our engines home. They all made good power on the dyno. We were really looking forward to coming out and running fast this weekend. We made a good run in the first session, we were fifth, and then Friday night, the car's never done it, but it crept through the beam. We ran the same air gap on everything we had and it killed our e.t. Obviously the conditions this morning weren't the same. We have something wrong with the car and we are just exhausted. We have been working so hard to figure out what's going on and we don't know what it is yet. We have to find that momentum that we had at the beginning of the year. There are some fast cars out there and we should be one of them. We know we have a good team together, and we know we've had a lot of opportunities to run faster, we just need to capitalize on those opportunities and get back on track."
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Grand Am) - "I hate to jinx myself but in the last four races we've really got this Century 21 Grand Am running pretty good. We've made nice, consistent runs in qualifying and have really been able to turn things around. The race at Madison, I felt we had a great shot at going to the semifinals and with a break or two, you never know what may happen. We were as fast there as anybody and looking back, that may have been my most disappointing loss. We have not found what we're doing wrong on raceday. We've run good with the new car and we've run really well in qualifying. This morning's run wasn't as good but we were trying something new for raceday. I'm glad we tried it then because it slowed us three hundredths of a second given the conditions. That's good because that's usually what would've happened in the first round. We're hoping in the last session we can get it back on track, and then tomorrow if we can get by first round then I feel sorry for the rest of the field. The guy in the first round has it easy. If I get by him then maybe we have a shot."
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "Right now we're in pretty good shape. Last night we were running in mine shaft conditions and we won't see that the rest of the weekend. This morning we ran in air that we'll probably see first round tomorrow, and this afternoon we'll work on raceday tune-up. I'm pretty happy with the 7.30 this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am ran. We tried some stuff on the engine, and didn't go the right way, some tune-up stuff where we were looking for another hundredth of a second. I think we lost a little bit on that. The chassis is working great, the clutch is pretty close, everything's holding up real well so I think we're in pretty good shape. We just have to keep searching for an advantage. We can't sit on our hands and wait for things to come to us. All the other cars here are trying to find a little more power, a little more acceleration, and the longer we run in this racetrack, the field gets closer. Even on this morning's run where we went backwards a little bit, we were still in the top two or three cars of the session. Now we just need to go the other way a little further and try to recoup some of that power we lost. Testing helps you come out of the trailer with a good number. But as you can see, the people that didn't test are getting closer, and closer and closer. There's a real steep learning curve up here. On the first run, everybody's lost, second run they pick it up, the third run they get closer and by the last session there are 16 cars running within five hundredths of a second. The last session will give you an indication of what will happen tomorrow. We just want our Grand Am to be in that five hundredths range on every run, and try and find any advantage we can get."
George Marnell (Marnell & Black Pontiac Grand Am) - "We've had a little trouble getting off the starting line this weekend - probably should have spent a little more time testing because this is the first time this Grand Am has been up here. Denver requires a unique setup so we kind of went with what we used last year. Bruce Allen has been sharing some information with us and helped us with our initial setup. We just didn't have it quite right yesterday and we were off at 60-foot and actually all the way to 330. After that the car ran really well so we knew if we could clean up the front part of the racetrack we could make a pretty good pass. We kept working on it, tried this, tried that and zeroed in on what our problem was. We fixed that and were able to run much better this morning. The car's not 100 percent yet, but it's getting a lot closer and that was evident with the e.t. we ran. The 7.32 was a decent pass given the conditions up here, and if we can pick it up just a little we should be really fast. Hopefully we'll have everything right for tomorrow."
Kurt Johnson (ACDelco Chevy Cavalier) - "We have a pretty good setup on this Chevy Cavalier for tomorrow but it's going to be brutal. The 3:30 p.m. run today will be an even better indicator of what we'll see on raceday as far as track and air conditions. We came in here last week and made five runs. Dad asked me if we I wanted to test, and we already had the winning recipe book from last year, ran low e.t., won the race, so in my mind I felt we had the hardware to get it done again. After thinking about it even further I realized just how difficult Denver could be, so I flew in on Tuesday, made five runs and hit it on the second run - just nailed it. Ran a 7.31 e.t. at 188.80 mph. Made three more runs after that - two 7.33s and a 7.34. We were in and out of here in four and a half hours. Dad stayed for three days and was running good by the end of the third day. I'm glad we tested. Even tough we ran good today, we had some information we used from last week that helped us. If we wouldn't have tested we would've had to of made a perfect run last night. It just made us feel a lot more comfortable coming in here. Winning this race last year doesn't give us an advantage but it does make us feel more comfortable as far as our notebook and what we have to look back on. We know what not to do more than anything. If we can run a 7.28 and the closest car is a 7.30, that definitely gives us confidence going into raceday."
Ron Krisher (Eagle One Chevy Cavalier) - "Rickie (Smith) thinks we're pretty good for raceday. The conditions tomorrow morning should be pretty close to what we ran in today. We made some radical changes for this morning's session, and when we did that we got into a situation where we had too many rpm's on the starting line. We didn't have a very good 60-foot, but on the rest of the rest track this Chevy Cavalier ran pretty darn good. We know what we're going to do tomorrow, but this afternoon Rickie wants to try something else to find out if we can gain some performance in the heat of the day. Nobody's going to pick up any but we're gaining on this thing a little bit at a time. We ran good in Pomona but this place can stump anybody. Everybody kind of went backwards this morning and we went just as far in the other direction - we had a much better back half than we did last night. It looks like Kurt's (Johnson) the only other car we have to catch right now. There's a couple of cars, Yates, don't ever count him out, he'll be right there and so will Warren (Johnson). They've been there all year, and Edwards will be there. Edwards was a little off this morning but he always makes good runs."
Mike Edwards (Young Life Chevy Cavalier) - "We tried some stuff on the engine this morning, and I think we actually helped the engine but we slowed down quite a bit. I'm confused to say the least. Our Young Life Chevy Cavalier made a really good run last night even though the engine didn't run as good on the backhalf as we'd have liked. I have the tune-up off somewhere. I ran the backhalf as good today as I did last night so I feel like I helped that part of it. I slowed down on the front part of the track. We have to get it all together. I'm confident though. Anytime you fire one of these things up and let the clutch out you'd better be learning something. Even though the conditions change from session to session, you're still gauging yourself against the rest of the field. We weren't very good this morning so we'll have to pick it up. I don't know if coming up here testing helped us or not. Normally we're a little bit better than this to tell you the truth. But if we wouldn't have tested we may have really been lost."