Pawuk set for 11th campaign with Summit Racing.
RICHFIELD, OH 11/20/02 Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk and Summit Racing Equipment of Tallmadge, Ohio, have announced they have reached agreement on a contract extension through the 2003 season and possibly beyond. "I'm extremely pleased to have been involved with Summit Racing Equipment for the last 10 years," said Pawuk from his office at Empaco Equipment Company in Richfield. "Our relationship with Summit is one of the longest running programs in Pro Stock, which is something everyone on our team is very proud of. Not only does Summit offer an extensive line of high performance racing and street equipment at reasonable prices, they provide their customers with exceptional delivery service, which can be incredibly important when you're trying to get your car ready for the next race. I just hope that we can do a better job in 2003, because quite honestly, this year was the most difficult time we've had in 16 years of Pro Stock racing."
Pawuk started 2002 out in fine fashion, but then struggled through the second half of the NHRA POWERade season, finishing out of the Top 10 for only the third time in the last 13 years. "This season was a humbling experience for all of us," Pawuk added. "We've had some serious discussions since the end of the racing year, and our gang is more dedicated than ever to getting the job done. We're going to do extensive testing between now and January, and plan on hitting the ground running at the Winternationals in February."
Pawuk had hoped to give Summit double exposure at the recently completed NHRA AAA Finals at Pomona by adding talented driver Richie Stevens to his team for the weekend, but their plans went awry when two days of qualifying were unfortunately rained out. Stevens drove Pawuk's Jerry Bickel-built Pontiac Grand Am while Pawuk was behind the wheel of his Don Ness-built version, but unfortunately, both drivers only got one shot at the track, with their elapsed times falling short of the mark.
As Pawuk explained, "When there's only one qualifying session due to rain the fields are set with the Top 10 in points and the next six quickest cars. Unfortunately for us, we were 17th in the standings coming in to the race, and our times weren't among the quickest six, so we didn't compete on Sunday.
"When it rains like it did at Pomona everyone loses, but we had our shot, and things just didn't work out for us. It may seem like a tough system, but it's fair for everyone, so we've got no complaints."
On Sunday morning of the race Pawuk was invited by his friend James Brown to visit the set of Fox Sports in Los Angeles to watch Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson host the "NFL Today" show. After being introduced to Brown's cohosts Pawuk observed show from the set, during which his racing endeavors were mentioned in an on-air comment. If his scheduling permits, Brown is planning on visiting with Pawuk at the track during the Winternationals. "James had planned on coming out to Pomona for qualifying at the Finals," Pawuk said, "but that didn't happen because of the weather."
During the days leading up to the AAA Finals Pawuk was involved in the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and will also attend the PRI Show in Indianapolis in early December.
"Everyone talks about our 'off-season,' but we really don't have one," Pawuk says. "We really struggled with our Bickel car late in the year, but the Ness Grand Am showed a lot of promise at Las Vegas, although I don't think the one run we made at Pomona gave us much feedback. We need to spend more time at the track with the car, so that's our plan for the immediate future. That, and coming up with more horsepower in our engine development shop.
"Nobody's going to be standing pat between now and February, and that definitely includes our team. We are not going to have another disappointing season in '03. I guarantee it!"