Joliet: Mark Pawuk final summary

Broken Rocker Arm Ends "The Cowboy's" Ride In The Windy City Season's-Best Elapsed Times Highlight Another Good Outing JOLIET, IL 6/11/06 Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's day ended in the first round of eliminations at the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals...

Broken Rocker Arm Ends "The Cowboy's" Ride In The Windy City

Season's-Best Elapsed Times Highlight Another Good Outing

JOLIET, IL 6/11/06 Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's day ended in the first round of eliminations at the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL after the engine in his borrowed Chevy Cobalt broke a rocker arm "at the top of first gear," he reported. For the second race in a row Pawuk's team muscled their car into eliminations, but a first round loss was not the result he was looking for. "We ran our best elapsed times of the year during qualifying," Pawuk said, "but so did a lot of other people. We ended up in the 11th spot on the list, and we might have done even better with a fourth run, but it wasn't to be."

Pawuk was referring to NHRA's cancellation of the fourth and final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon due to a series of rain showers that slowed down the action. "That was probably the right call to make," he said, "but I'm sure the guys who didn't make the cut wouldn't agree with that. Including the King Demon Crown and the All-stars race there just wasn't enough time to run everyone, which is kind of a shame, but that's what happens sometimes in racing."

Pawuk, who continues to compete with the Chevy Cobalt he borrowed from fellow Ohio racer Ron Krisher, was this weekend powered by an engine from Steve Schmidt Racing.

"I've had a lot of questions about that," he said, "so here's the explanation. Ron and I continue to be good friends, and he's the one who suggested to me that right now his engine program isn't quite where he wants it to be. He told me to do whatever I felt I had to do to remain competitive, so we're using engines from Steve until Ron feels his powerplants are on a par with the competition.

"We got some good news from chassis builder Jerry Haas, who's told us our new Pontiac GTO went into the paint shop a few days ago. We should be able to pick it up during the Sears Craftsman Nationals in St. Louis in a couple of weeks. I don't think we'll be able to run the car there, but we should be able to test on the Monday following the race. After that, depending on how things go, we'll make the decision as to whether or not we make the three races on the West Coast Swing."

Like many other competitors, Pawuk is reluctant to admit driver errors, but after Friday evening's second session netted a season's-best elapsed time of 6.683 seconds at 206.26 MPH he was quick to acknowledge that "the car got a little tiny bit out of the groove, but I yanked it back and kept going. It might have been even quicker if I'd've been a little gentler with that move, but it's too late to worry about that now."

Pawuk ended up 11th in a field that featured a bump spot of 6.700 seconds which, as he said "is just another indication of how competitive Pro Stock is. All you've gotta do is blink your eyes once, and you don't make the show. Every year the class gets tougher and tougher, which is what I like about it. The challenge to excel just never ends. You've gotta be on top of your game every single run, so the pressure's intense."

Pawuk said of his first round race against Kurt Johnson, "I never saw him after we left the line, but I felt the engine stumble at the top of first gear. I looked up and he was out there, and I knew I couldn't catch him, so I shut it down to keep the damage to a minimum. Kurt's a very good driver, and there was just now way we could match a 'sixty-seven with a hurt motor.

"Maybe we can turn the tables on him in Englishtown next weekend," Pawuk added in reference to his team's next outing in New Jersey at the K&N Filters Super Nationals.

-mpr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Ron Krisher , Steve Schmidt , Jerry Haas