Pontiac GTO To Make NHRA Pro Stock Debut At Mile-High Nationals Second New Car Introduced Into Pro Stock This Year By GM Racing DENVER, July 9, 2005 - The Pontiac GTO will make its first appearance in NHRA Pro Stock competition at the 26th...
Pontiac GTO To Make NHRA Pro Stock Debut At Mile-High Nationals
Second New Car Introduced Into Pro Stock This Year By GM Racing
DENVER, July 9, 2005 - The Pontiac GTO will make its first appearance in NHRA Pro Stock competition at the 26th annual Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway on July 15 -17. Greg Anderson took delivery of his Jerry Bickel-constructed GTO on July 2, and the two-time POWERade Pro Stock champ has been diligently testing the car ever since to get it prepared for the Mile-High Nationals and the upcoming three-race Western swing.
"We're very excited about racing the new Pontiac GTO," said Anderson. "We've been licking our chops waiting for these new Pontiacs. It's a great looking racecar with a great heritage, and the wind-tunnel tests tell us it's going to be fast. We had it out for a few laps on Wednesday at our local track here in Mooresville (N.C.) just to scratch her down the track a few times. Then that doggone tropical storm came through so that cut our testing time short on Thursday, but we're making as many laps as we possibly can.
"We know the package is excellent, the potential is there and we think we have half a handle on the chassis since it's similar to the one we've been running. It's just a matter of getting the body and the car balanced, which we think we're smart enough to figure out in the short term. You never have as much time as you'd like to do that, but whether it's exactly where we want it when we first roll into Denver, or if we need a few more laps, the sooner we get the GTO into competition the better off we'll be."
Adding a new car into your racing stable always puts an extra bounce in your step, and Anderson feels the upcoming Western swing presents an excellent opportunity to bring the GTO up to its full potential.
"We get excited anytime we get a new car, let alone one that's going to be as good as this GTO," said Anderson. "We think the Western swing is a perfect situation to introduce the car and work out the kinks. You have three completely different tracks, and if you're sorting out a new car then maybe that's the best time to do it."
The GTO is the second car that GM Racing has introduced into NHRA Pro Stock competition this year. The processes involved in the development of the new Pontiac were almost identical, even down to the same number of wind-tunnel tests, as to that of the Chevy Cobalt which made its debut at Bristol Dragway on April 29.
"Because of its heritage, it seems that the Pontiac GTO is the perfect car to go drag racing," explained Dan Engel, GM Racing program manager, NHRA Drag Racing. "Again, we worked with both Don Ness and Five Star since they were familiar with the construction process of the Cobalt. We had already gone to the lighter-weight body and had established a laminate development schedule with the Cobalt, and the one-piece body process had already been achieved and validated. To go somewhere else just didn't make any sense. With everything that had to be accomplished with the Pontiac GTO, building a new car was much easier the second time around.
"The basic dimensions of the GTO are the same as the Cobalt, it's just little characteristic lines of the car that are different. The difference isn't in the wheelbase or the height dimensions, but it's little curvatures in the body where you put the tubing in to support the body. We're talking an inch here and an inch there, but it's still not exactly the same so it does require a different body. The car looks great, though. The guys at the body shop and the chassis shop think it looks really neat. We have the Ram Air hood scoops on the car and that adds to the character of the Pro Stock GTO."
GM Racing is also working on the development of Pontiac GTO and Chevy Cobalt applications for Sportsman competitors.
"The Cobalt and GTO bodies we're building for Sportsman racers are made from the same mold and are the exact same shape as the Pro Stock bodies," said Engel. "Our goal is to make it a little less expensive to race. The new bodies will be constructed with fiberglass instead of carbon-fiber, and will be slightly heavier, but they will both be tremendous pieces to race with. We're building the Cobalts now, and we'll begin with the GTO as soon as we're caught up with the Pro Stock bodies."
GM Racing Pre-Event Facts
. In 12 contested events this season Pontiac drivers have scored eight victories, advanced to 14 final rounds and captured eight No. 1 qualifying awards. The most recent NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings show Pontiac in first place with 1,880 points, a 560-point lead over second-place Dodge.
. Kurt Johnson drove the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to his first victory of the season at Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill., on June 26. It was the first win for Chevy Cobalt and the 124th all-time victory for Chevrolet in NHRA Pro Stock competition. Since debuting the Cobalt at Bristol (Tenn.), Johnson has one win, one runner-up, three semifinal appearances and two No. 1 qualifiers in just seven starts.
. Johnson's consecutive poles at Englishtown (N.J.) and Madison (Ill.) were the first time the ACDelco Chevrolet driver had gone back-to-back since Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis in 2003.
. Kurt Johnson's recent victory at Madison extended his streak of winning at least one race per season to 11 years, the longest streak among active Pro Stock competitors.
. With his fifth final-round appearance of the season at Madison, Greg Anderson moved back into first place in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock standings with 941 points. Jason Line is second in a Pontiac with 926 points, Warren Johnson (Pontiac) is third with 913 points, Dave Connolly (Chevrolet) is fourth with 807 points and Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet) is fifth with 763 points. There have been nine lead changes in 12 races, and the first three drivers in Pro Stock have all accumulated more points than the points leaders in the other Professional categories.
. Warren Johnson leads the Pro Stock category for the most wins at Bandimere Speedway. The GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver won the Mile-High Nationals for the first time in 1989 and followed that with victories in 1991, '95 and '98. Greg Anderson is the defending Pro Stock champion at the Mile-High Nationals and has won the race twice (2003-04). Mike Edwards has also been a back-to-back winner (1996-97) at Bandimere Speedway, and Kurt Johnson has won this event twice (1993, '99). Mark Pawuk won the Mile-High Nationals in 1992.
. Drivers currently in GM-branded cars who have previously posted a runner-up at the Mile-High Nationals include Dave Connolly (2004), Jim Yates (1994, '97, '99), Kurt Johnson (1998), Mark Pawuk (1990, '93), Bruce Allen (1989) and Warren Johnson (1988).
. Greg Anderson set both the Pro Stock e.t. (7.159 seconds) and top speed track record (193.40 mph) last year at Bandimere Speedway.
Qualifying for the Mile-High Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Saturday, July 16, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations will be telecast on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 17, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern.