Houston Pontiac Racing Saturday report

Newsgroups: rec.autos.sport.info Organization: MNI - Motorsport News International Approved: jackd@motorsport.com From: Motorsport News International <press@motorsport.com> Followup-To: rec.autos.sport.misc Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 21:11:44 ...

Newsgroups: rec.autos.sport.info Organization: MNI - Motorsport News International Approved: jackd@motorsport.com From: Motorsport News International <press@motorsport.com> Followup-To: rec.autos.sport.misc Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 21:11:44 -0400

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We made some changes to the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird to contend with the hot race track. We left fine, it just came out of third gear for some reason or another. It was out of third gear for 17-hundredths of a second so if you subtract that from the elapsed time we actually put up, this car was on another 6.80 run. We'll make a comparison of the 60-foot times in the last session, assess where we stack up to the rest of the field and go into tomorrow ready to race. No. 1 qualifier - 6.898ET/200.41MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We finally got enough clutch in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird, unfortunately it was in the session where needed the least amount. At least the car made a good run. Obviously, the conditions are going to change a lot between tonight and tomorrow morning. It's just going to be a combination of coming up with the right ingredients. I felt like this morning we could have made a pretty good run if we would have put enough clutch in the car. Tomorrow morning's first session will be a lot closer to today's first session so we'll try and correct the run that we made this morning and see if we can't go out there and put up a big number. The track will take everything you can put on it right now, you just have to be able to have enough clutch in the can and enough horsepower under the hood to run the number. I think the 6.97 we ran tonight was a pretty good run down the race track given the conditions. Especially in that left lane. The bald spots were starting to show and the track was extremely hot. A lot of cars weren't even getting down the lane. At the same time, tomorrow morning is going to be a totally different situation. So far this weekend I think we've demonstrated that we have consistency and that we're back on top of our program. Unfortunately we've been just a little too light on clutch this weekend. This new motor has given us a real curve ball as far as coming up with the right combination - especially on a great rack like this. I believe that we have enough power that even on a bad run, if we're doing everything else right we can get in. But we can't get cocky or complacent. There are a lot of tough cars right now in Pro Stock trying to get qualified and all you have to do is look at the good cars that didn't get qualified to get an idea of how competitive this class is. If you don't pay attention to your program for just one week, you can be outside looking in. We have no desire to be there. Our No. 1 priority is to get qualified. Now that we've done that, we have to win rounds. No. 7 qualifier - 6.947ET/198.17MPH Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) The Outlaw Pontiac Firebird is making good runs it just appears we don't have the power to keep the car our front. That's the next step for us to concentrate on. The new car looks to be running extremely well, we just need to find more horsepower. It's disappointing for us this weekend but we're certainly not done trying.

Second Session: We made three good runs here with this new car but we're simply not fast enough. We've spent so much time over the last six months working on the chassis. Now it appears we have that sorted out, which frees us up to chase horsepower. My experience tells me that if you keep working on something, you'll find it. We found our chassis problems now we need to find our power problems. We need to make this Outlaw Firebird fast enough to qualify near the top of the field at every race. I know we can accomplish this goal and we will. No. 20 qualifier - 6.987ET/197.62MPH

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) It's like we talked about last night, we fixed some problems we had on the motor and since it was making full power we were able to get a good read on last night's run. That helped us zero in our clutch setup. We made a much better clutch run this morning after making a change on the setup, and what we did, the Dynomax Pontiac Firebird definitely liked. The car ran very well and it performed pretty much the way we anticipated. I think we just made a very good run. The humidity is tough here but it's a factor that everyone has to deal with. The key is to be able o tune around it. There are different things you can do and the guys that figure that out are the guys who are going to run. Bob Cave and the rest of the guys on this team did a tremendous job calling the right shots and we were able to take this car right down the race track. No. 4 qualifier - 6.939ET/198.44MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) The track really got loose as that session progressed and we ended up overpowering it big-time. It felt like we spun the tires in every gear and that really slowed us down. Being at the back of the group hurt because the track kept getting hotter and hotter and we were set up for cooler conditions. We'll have to get after it tonight.

Second Session: We're very encouraged with how the Pennzoil Firebird continued to improve each lap. Our incremental times during both of today's runs were good and if not for a greasy track, we would have run much quicker. It feels great to finally get a handle on this car and to qualify again. It's starting to feel like it did last year when we were challenging for the points lead. We'll have to be sharp to beat Pawuk but we'll definitely be ready to go. I'm ready to win some rounds. No. 11 qualifier - 6.965ET/198.85MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) After four runs down the race track I'm pretty confident that we're starting to catch up with it. We were hoping that tonight's run would show us some consistency for tomorrow because we've been struggling on race day. But the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird got towards the centerline so I got out of it and still ran a 6.99. This weekend my crew has done a terrific job. We came in here and qualified two cars in the top half of the field and it just demonstrates all of the hard work that goes on at the race track and at the engine shop to make this program possible. I'm very proud of every body involved and I think this program is finally starting to come together. I'm confident that if we get the bugs out on Sunday and I finally get in the new race car, that some better ETs on race day will cure some of our Sunday blues. We were the second fastest car in the morning session so our back half performance is starting to come around. Whatever happened on Friday during the first session must have been a fluke. We think it was probably a bad spark plug but we changed everything and it definitely came around. Both motors look very promising. I think Greg's (Anderson) may actually have a little more power. But after qualifying No. 3 at Gainesville we were a little bit leery of making the change to something not fully proven. We really wanted to run Greg's car at a national event before making the change. We had it last year at Indy and didn't qualify. Plus, we're trying some different stuff this weekend. We changed the back of the new Ness car on that last run and it ran very well - it may have been second quickest of the session. We've accomplished what we set out to do this weekend but it's been a lot of work on the crew. My guys have really worked hard and running the two cars this weekend has definitely moved our program ahead. No. 6 qualifier - 6.942ET/199.05MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) Last session, we broke the transmission. But with the exception of that last round, the Century 21 Pontiac Firebird program is starting to come around a little bit. We were between eighth and tenth in qualifying in the first three rounds so we're demonstrating a little consistency. But right now, I don't think we're better than a No. 7 car anyway. The game plan tomorrow is to try and go out and not shoot ourselves in the foot. We're going to go back to the we used this morning and try to duplicate that tomorrow morning. We've had some luck here at Houston in the past and I'm hoping that it keeps on going. No. 10 qualifier - 6.961ET/198.52MPH

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) The second pass was pretty good considering we did it in the heat of the day. The sun hadn't been out all weekend so that run gives us a good baseline for tomorrow. We'll probably be racing in similar conditions so it was good that we had an opportunity to run the Interstate Batteries Firebird when we did. We were one of the few cars that made a decent pass down the race track in the second session. There's a few things that we've been changing. The car's had a tendency to wheel stand so we opted to go with a setup that we were a little more familiar with and it went right down through there. Those are things we're trying to figure out but all in all it's been a good weekend. The car's been solidly in the 4.90s and in the last run we put a cylinder out down towards the end that scrubbed off some ET. This car's ready to race though and we're excited. No. 3 qualifier - 4.921ET/302.01MPH

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) The first session was exactly what we wanted to do except we broke the blower belt. It would have run a 4.91 or 4.92 barring any problems so that would have been a good number for us. To get ready for tomorrow we're going to come out tonight and try and do the exact same thing. We'll basically leave the combination alone on the JCIT Firebird, take it back up there and see if it will make it to the end. It didn't get lean and it didn't do anything wrong the belt just fell off. It had eight runs on it and it was going to get changed this run but it just didn't make it. The car went nice and straight and the chassis adjustments we made have paid off. The car was really nice to drive - it was straight as an arrow. As long as we keep doing stuff like that, that's pretty much what we're looking for. I think we'll run a mid to low 4.90 this afternoon as long as the track conditions don't go away. This place is slowly becoming the kind of track our car runs well on. It's starting to come around to us while going away from some of the other cars. But we need to learn how to run on these good tracks. When it's time to go 4.82 or 4.83, we need to know how to do that. I think it's only a matter of time before we do. No. 6 qualifier - 4.984ET/303.16MPH

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We ran a 5.01 and it wasn't as good as we wanted to run. We put a cylinder out at two seconds and ran the rest of the way on seven cylinders. The car was on a 4.90 flat pace early before that happened. It's partially from using the new fuel pump and from the fact that the air here is very wet. That's why you saw a slew of dropped cylinders today and we had a jump on everybody with two cylinders out. That was more of a blower malfunction than anything else. We stripped it this morning, took a look at it and I think we've got it fixed for tonight. Another problem is that when it's humid like this it takes more to detonate the fuel. When the moisture in the air is this high it's very difficult to put enough nitro in it. We have a higher percentage of nitro and more blower on this thing than we have ever had. It's still not quite enough. We're going to change blowers for tonight's session, put a fresher one on than what we've been using, go up and see what happens. At the same time we're encountering weather that we're going to see later this summer. We usually don't see it this early here but it's something we're going to have to face sooner or later. No. 9 qualifier - 5.017ET/297.48MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) Sometimes, even when the car doesn't do what you think it should, or what you want it to do in the ET department, you can still learn a lot about the overall tune-up and maybe some other things you were working on. On that last pass, we just didn't make the power we've been producing lately. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird didn't leave hard enough and didn't get enough head of steam up to really do anything. It was starting to spin the tires down there at the top end and I knew it wasn't enough of a run to change anything so I shut it off. But by making nearly a full pass we got the data we wanted on some things we're working on. It was a useful pass. From about this point forward in the season we start running in hot weather and on hot tracks that can get a little loose. You need the confidence that you can handle tough conditions as well as perfect conditions. I'm kind of glad it got this hot. It's good preparation for the rest of the summer.

No. 5 qualifier - 4.967ET/305.70MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) We ran our career best elapsed time and top speed this morning and it felt terrific. I knew when this Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird got to half track and kept accelerating that we were on a good pass. It's been laying over here recently but this time it just stayed with it. When I got to the end Cory Lee got out of his car and asked me if it was better than my 5.13 and I said 'O Yeah!' We're pretty excited about it. We always knew the potential was there we just didn't know how to get it out. It's coming around. Right now it doesn't look like anyone has any real advantage out there. If you look at the field there aren't a lot of fours. There's a lot of 5.00s, but everyone's bunched together. We've got a good chance against anybody we race tomorrow. No. 10 qualifier - 5.017ET/297.48MPH

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) We've had some oiling problems in the main bearing area so we did some testing in Dallas on Tuesday. Things didn't go quite as well as we wanted but we did make some headway. We came in here and decided that we really needed to change some things on the MBNA/Pontiac. The first pass we shut it off at 1000 feet even though we had some good early numbers and good mid-track numbers. Everything looked okay so we decided we needed to get after it. We did that last night with the 4.57 and it may not be in the 4.40s, but we're getting there. The thing about our approach is that we'll be consistent, maybe more so than some of the other cars. We need to run 4.54 today and continue to improve all the way through Sunday. That's what we're looking to do. No. 7 qualifier - 4.573ET/319.90MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Cory Lee