Houston-Pawuk interview (PRO STOCK)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 PATIENCE WITH ENGINE PROGRAM PAYS OFF FOR PAWUK IN PRO STOCK BAYTOWN, Texas -- It took about seven seconds to erase nine months of doubt from Mark Pawuk's mind. ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

PATIENCE WITH ENGINE PROGRAM PAYS OFF FOR PAWUK IN PRO STOCK

BAYTOWN, Texas -- It took about seven seconds to erase nine months of doubt from Mark Pawuk's mind.

Oh, what a relief it was.

Pawuk, from Bath, Ohio, knew after a strong first qualifying run at the season-opening Chief Auto Parts Winternationals last month that he was smart to start his own engine-building program last May instead of following the current trend in NHRA Pro Stock racing of buying or leasing engines. He struggled last season while his team built new powerplants, finishing a dismal 20th in the NHRA Winston point standings.

"It was getting pretty disheartening," Pawuk said. "I didn't know if I wanted to continue. I was spending a lot of money, and I was wondering if it was worth it. At Pomona, it all was worthwhile."

It's been worthwhile at all three races this season. Pawuk is a solid fourth in the NHRA Winston point standings in the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird entering the 10th annual, $1,631,200 Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto, March 20-23 at Houston Raceway Park. The race is the fourth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

While he struggled last season, Pawuk began to question every part of his car. He wondered if his engines were strong but the chassis was flawed. Not so. Pawuk used an engine built by three-time NHRA Winston champion Warren Johnson the last four races of 1996, and he made his first six-second pass. The Pawuk engines were the problem, so the team kept tinkering with them.

"In order to win a championship, which is my dream, you have to control your own destiny, your own program," Pawuk said. "We have a baseline. It's just going to take time."

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. March 21 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 22. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. March 23. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. March 20.

*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Slick 50 Nationals. Call Houston Raceway Park at (281) 383-2666 or check the track's World Wide Web site at http://www.houstonraceway.com for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Ticketmaster. To order through Ticketmaster, call (713) 629-3700.

*On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Slick 50 Nationals at 4 p.m. (CST) March 23. ESPN2 also will televise Friday-night qualifying with a two-hour, same-day show starting at 11:30 p.m. (CST) March 21. All-day, live coverage of final eliminations will be shown on pay-per-view from 10:30-6 p.m. (CST) March 23. The telecast costs $14.95. Viewers must order the programming through their satellite or cable provider.

*On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30-

3/11/97-HT4-043

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson