Englishtown: GM Racing Saturday summary

Tony Bartone's Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car Qualifies No. 1 at SuperNationals New York Native Earns First Career Raceday Pole ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 17, 2006 - After driving his Chevy Monte Carlo to a Funny Car category-best 4.787 seconds,...

Tony Bartone's Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car Qualifies No. 1 at SuperNationals

New York Native Earns First Career Raceday Pole

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 17, 2006 - After driving his Chevy Monte Carlo to a Funny Car category-best 4.787 seconds, Tony Bartone earned his first career No. 1 qualifying award at the 37th annual K & N Filters Supernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The driver of the Lucas Oil Chevrolet ran the pole-winning number during the Friday night session of time trials and successfully defended his starting spot through two additional rounds of qualifying.

"When Robert Hight (the last qualifying attempt) ran the 4.80 there was definitely a sigh of relief on my part," said Bartone. "Right now I have goose bumps and I have to thank all the people who made it happen. Jim Dunn for having the confidence in me to let me drive his car, and our main sponsor, Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products for their support. Without the sponsors we couldn't do this. It really hasn't set in it yet but pretty soon it will."

"Englishtown has been very good to me over the years and being No. 1 qualifier is certainly an honor and a great milestone in my career. Drag racing is all about performance, and Jim Dunn and the entire Lucas Oil team have done an outstanding job in providing me with a competitive racecar. I don't know how they do it, but they do a heck of a job preparing our Chevy Monte Carlo, getting it on the track and giving me a nice, quality, safe ride. The car ran very strong today during the first qualifying session. We hurt the motor at about four seconds into the run or it would have done considerably better. At the same time, I like our raceday chances for tomorrow."

This weekend's effort was especially gratifying for Bartone, a New York native who began his career competing as a bracket racer at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

"To be able to drive a nitro Funny Car is a dream come true for me," said Bartone. "Coming up through the ranks is a good way to approach the sport because I don't think you could take the average person off the street and throw them into a 320 mph Funny Car. It was a nice enjoyably way that I progressed in this sport and I have to thank my brother Mike because he's the person who got me involved in this level of drag racing."

Tony Pedregon will push off from the No. 5 position after posting a 4.812 e.t. at 320.58 mph in the Q Racing Chevrolet, and Del Worsham is in the No. 7 spot in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy with a run of 4.827 seconds at 324.05 mph. In the final qualifying session, Worsham drove his CSK Monte Carlo to a solid 4.865 second run, the third quickest of the round.

"We had a little carnage at the end, just as we crossed the finish line, but other than that it was a great lap and a great way to wind up qualifying here," Worsham said. "Every forecast we saw said today would be hot and sunny all day, but the clouds disagreed with the weathermen, and they stuck around for quite a while. That final run was more of what we were expecting, and closer to what we're expecting tomorrow, so I'm glad we made such a solid lap there. I hate to even mention the forecast, because it was so wrong today, but it's supposed to be very hot tomorrow. If they have it right, the fans are going to have a fun day out here. A hot track will make for some fun racing, for everyone but the drivers. If this track gets slick, like it was for the first qualifying sessions, there's going to be tire spin, pedaling duels, cars blowing up, all the stuff the fans love. It's a stress test for the drivers when it gets that way, but you do all you can to get the win light. You just go for it."

Other Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car drivers who made the 16-car field for Sunday's eliminator include Tommy Johnson Jr. (10th), Phil Burkart Jr. (11th), Scott Kalitta (12th), Cruz Pedregon (13th) and Tim Wilkerson (15th).

In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson and Jim Yates had the two quickest Pontiac GTOs in the field with Anderson qualifying the Summit Racing Pontiac in the No. 2 slot with a 6.650 e.t. at 208.01 mph. Anderson entered the final day of qualifying in the second spot and posted the second-quickest times in both Saturday sessions.

"It seems like one run you have it figured out, and then the sun pops out, the track temp goes up another 20 degrees and you lose the handle on it," said Anderson. "This track definitely makes a major swing when the sun's shining on it. The forecast today was for sunshine but we got lucky this morning and had some cloud cover, which helped give us some good times. We have to get it in our heads that we may have to make big, big changes to these cars if we have the kind of forecast we're expecting tomorrow, or that starting line will be tougher yet. We better learn from what we did tonight if we want to go rounds on Sunday."

Yates entered the final day of time trials in the No. 1 position and ended the afternoon by parking the Sea Ray Boats Pontiac in the No. 3 position with a 6.655 e.t. at a track-record top speed of 208.17 mph.

"So far, mission accomplished," said Yates. "Realistically, when you come here you think you can qualify in the top couple of cars, but you have to qualify in order for a chance to perform on Sunday. This Pontiac GTO turned in a solid performance qualifying. The weather changed about as much as it could, and the track went from 100 degrees to 130 degrees, so we also saw some dramatic swings there as well. We performed consistently every run, so I'm enthused about the team's chances to adapt. This weekend, I'm sure we've already encountered the kind of conditions we'll see tomorrow. Now it's a matter of plugging that combination into the car and making the kind of runs we're capable of."

Other drivers in a Pontiac GTO that made the quickest 16-car field in NHRA Pro Stock history include Mike Edwards (4th), Jason Line (5th), Greg Stanfield (12th), Rickie Smith (13th) and Warren Johnson (15th).

"We tried a few things yesterday that had showed some significant gains on the dyno," said Johnson. "On the first run, it blew the tires off, so we figured we had found some extra horsepower, but for some reason it didn't want to move in second gear. As a result, I started looking at the data, both from those runs and our test session from last week in Joliet, and found something that both Kurt and I had somehow overlooked. We incorporated that into today's set-up and picked up the pace this morning."

"After looking at that information, we made some adjustments for this afternoon and our GM Performance Parts GTO was fourth quickest in the session, where the conditions most closely resembled what we will race in tomorrow. We're happy with what we found, but we either have to get bigger shovels or dig deeper to see what we can do with this latest discovery."

The quickest Chevy Cobalt in the 16-car field belongs to Kurt Johnson who qualified in the No. 6 spot with a 6.663 e.t. at 207.40 mph. Johnson has advanced to the final round at the last two events including a runner-up at Topeka (Kan.) and a win last weekend in Chicago.

"It's a good day anytime you can tune these cars and keep picking up the performance, making better runs and gaining e.t. as we did with our ACDelco Cobalt today," said Johnson. "The gearing has been right, the clutch is good, and I've been driving well, which produced the results you saw today. The biggest issue we have for tomorrow is that it's not always going straight. I feel once we know which lane we're going to be in we can tune it in the staging lanes, which is a big plus. I've been spending some time on the practice tree, and I feel pretty good about our chances as I did in Chicago."

With a run of 6.665 seconds at 207.34 mph, Dave Connolly's Chevy Cobalt is qualified in the No. 7 position. Connolly's Chevrolet posted the quickest elapsed time of the final qualifying session at 6.670 seconds.

"Because of driver error most of the weekend, we were slipping it down low," said Connolly. "We finally put a raceday setup in the car because this is probably going to be similar to what we face tomorrow. To make the run we did tonight with our Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt has us all pretty excited about going into Sunday. We'll see what we can do, but it looks like it's going to be a tough ladder, although any side of the ladder is tough these days. Our goal is to go a few rounds, pick up some points and maybe get back to the winner's circle. The track is going to be hot, it's going to be tricky, and I think we have a good setup for it. We have a brand-new motor in the car that we first used last week in Chicago that we keep getting closer with on the tune-up. The crew chief's on, and all-in-all, we have a complete package that's competitive."

Other drivers in a Chevy Cobalt that made the 16-car field include Dave Howard (8th), Ron Krisher (14th) and Mark Pawuk (16th).

"I'm racing on Sunday and that's all that matters right now," said Pawuk. "We keep getting better every week with our speed, and had an opportunity to step up this morning but didn't make the run we would have liked. Just to be in the show says a lot about the great work of this race team, and who knows, we just may bring our new GTO out next week in St. Louis."

Qualifying highlights of the K & N Supernationals will be telecast on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 17, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations from the K & N Supernationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, June 18, starting at 4 p.m. Eastern.

-gm racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Cruz Pedregon , Scott Kalitta , Tim Wilkerson , Phil Burkart , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.