Joliet II: Pontiac Racing finals report notes

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "We've been working with the tune-up on the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac, and basically took what we had in Kurt's (Johnson) car, put it in our car, and it worked right off the...

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "We've been working with the tune-up on the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac, and basically took what we had in Kurt's (Johnson) car, put it in our car, and it worked right off the bat. The tune-up we took out of Kurt's car really made this Grand Am more consistent. Not that we couldn't get there, but I don't think we had the consistency we had with Kurt's tune-up. Every so often you get a day like we had today where things go your way. More often than not they don't go your way so you have to enjoy it when it's there."

"The best part of the win was the consistency of the performance. We didn't start out that well because we don't really race under these kind of conditions. These are premium conditions, both atmospheric and track wise, in fact we don't even test in these kind of conditions very often. We didn't find the setup as quickly as Kurt's crew found the setup for his Cavalier. We basically just plugged it right straight into the Grand Am and you saw it was as consistent a racecar as you could get out there today. I think we had the best 60-foot time in every round today so the car really came around in a hurry. I think we're onto something. Whether it will pay off for the championship is hard to tell, but we'll ride this racehorse as long as we can."

How critical was lane choice? - "I don't think it was all that critical. You saw Darrell (Alderman) run a 6.85 in the final. He really didn't slow up that much - the advantage was maybe a hundredth, but the biggest thing was the sunlight on the tree in the right lane and I thought that would play to our advantage. You saw the reaction times were within thousandths of each other, so overall, lane choice, not from the condition of the lane itself but from other factors, may have had an affect. Since we had lane choice, that was just one more option to execute. Let's face it, there's only one shot at this deal.

Is it good for the fans to have you two in the final? - "It's great for the fans. We've even had comments from the fuel car fans this weekend, with the closeness of Pro Stock competition, it's great racing. And that's what they're here for. As long as the entertainment is at the level as it is when Darrell and I race in the final, then they'll keep coming back, and that's what we hope for."

Can you talk a little bit more about the competition level of Pro Stock? - "You could probably make a 32-car field out here, and top to bottom it wouldn't be separated by a tenth of a second. Twenty years ago I remember Glidden had a tenth-and-half on the No. 2 qualifier. That's not the case anymore. You have to be spot on with every aspect of your team right now - driver, decisions to be made, equipment, everything has to be as perfect as you can make it. Without everything meshing correctly you're not going to win?

Is parity good for the sport?- "It's good for the sport, but it gives us all ulcers. Like I said before, the closeness of the racing is what brings the fans out here whether it's Pro Stock cars or SuperGas or what have you. As long as it's close enough where they have a favorite, and the idea that their favorite has the potential of winning, they're going to come back. If it's dominated by one particular driver they fade away. I think Funny Car is as exciting as it's ever been now that Force has some opposition. It's good for the sport, but it's hell on drivers, and team owners, and crew members and everybody else involved from the team side of it, but that's why we're here."

Was it a relief when Yates went out in the second round? - "It gave us the opportunity to extend our points lead. I can't say it was a relief because we still had to go win those rounds. What he did was give us the opportunity to extend the lead and fortunately we were able to capitalize on it. We didn't capitalize on it at Memphis. But at the same time, with what happened to Bobby Baldwin, and one of Richie Stevens' crew members having heart problems, and Jim having his trouble, I didn't even feel like racing at Memphis. It was one of those things, coupled with what happened in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, it was a real downer and I just wanted that weekend to be over with."

Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We knew if we didn't make any mistakes, odds were we'd be meeting Force in the finals. We were prepared for that, but it was probably one of the hardest rounds I've ever had. It was fair with good sportsmanship on both sides and a good clean drag race, and that's how they all should be."

You captured 138 points this weekend, the most you can get a national event? - "We have to look at the points spread and see what it is and go from there. This Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird is a great running car, there's no question about it, and the team did an outstanding job. We're fortunate to have the national e.t. record - that's a dream come true for me. I've had the speed record before and that's special, but the e.t. record is something I've never had, and I just can't describe how good it feels to have a car that performs like that. I'm really blessed."

Do you feel like you have the best car right now? "Yes I do, but that was today. The thing about this sport is that every weekend you start over, and that's how a guy like John Force has stayed motivated after winning 10 championships. It's a clean slate every run, and even though we ran 4.75 Friday, when we got to the finals tonight that didn't mean a thing. We all have to do a perfect job and today we had some close races. If we'd been a tick off against Frank Pedregon we'd have gotten beat. The same at the U.S. Nationals. We only beat Hofmann by a hundredth of second and the slightest let down would have made the best weekend of our lives the worst weekend. It's that challenge every week that drives you and motivates you and why people like Force and Bernstein have done this for so long."

-GM Racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force