Memphis: Pontiac Racing Saturday notes

PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, we're qualified. There's way too much bite in this racetrack for the way we have this car set up and we can't back it down far enough - at least predictably. I...

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, we're qualified. There's way too much bite in this racetrack for the way we have this car set up and we can't back it down far enough - at least predictably. I can back it down but then we could be on the other side of the fence and be completely out of the realm of getting down the racetrack. So we have to approach it cautiously and we haven't gone far enough yet. We have plenty of power. With these air conditions power isn't a problem. Backing the car down to adapt to the track conditions is what we're working on. We'll take a stab at it tomorrow and see what happens." No. 11 qualifier - 6.846ET/200.47MPH

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "Today went pretty good. We came out this morning in the right lane and decided to take it easy to see what the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird would do in that lane. We got the motor from Ron Krisher and he said we could use it for the rest of the weekend. I can't tell you how much we appreciate what Ron and his team have done for us. Our two motors are still hurt and we'll have to send them back to get them fixed. We ran a 6.87 this morning, got a little loose in the middle of the track and that hurt us a bit on e.t. Tonight we came out ready to go after it since we had nothing to lose. Scott (Geoffrion) was a couple of cars ahead of us and went the 6.80 so we thought we were looking pretty good. I left the starting line and it picked the front end up as high as it's ever been. We had our best 60-foot time of the weekend at one-flat, but it drove over to the wall, got out of the groove and I had to bring it back. I shifted it a little too early, and it knocked the clutch out of it but we still went 6.89. We had four good passes this weekend and I feel pretty comfortable going into tomorrow. We have lane choice, which will be important, but we have a tough customer in Mark Osborne so we'll have our work cut out for us." No. 4 qualifier - 6.836ET/198.96MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) -- "Even though all four runs had us in the top sixteen, we weren't really pleased with them. We tried everything we could to make the car run well. We put in different motors, four-links, clutches, transmission ratios and tires, all trying to get on top of it. If we're able to straighten it out and make a good pass, I know this Century 21 Firebird would run 6.83 at 201 and change. Fortunately, we were able to get close enough to make it in the show. "Tomorrow, our game plan for the first round is simple. Without lane choice, I know we'll be on the right side, which has a few bumps in it that people have had problems with. I guarantee we will go down that lane tomorrow. After that, I will try to leave on Larry (Morgan) and hope he doesn't catch me." No. 14 qualifier - 6.873ET/200.11MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I think we need to make some adjustments to get this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird down the track. That right lane is real slick so thank goodness we have lane choice in the first round. When the sun goes down it gets really cold out there in the middle, and the graph you make looks really nice, it's just spinning the tire all the way down through there and you're not going forward. I don't think we'll make any big changes for first round. Hopefully the sun will warm up the track and make it a little stickier for us. We do a lot testing in the winter in this kind of air, so we have some idea on what to do. The hard part is adapting to the air with the kind of track conditions we had today. I think we're in pretty good shape for tomorrow. The field's pretty tight, so we'll have to see how everyone settles down. We'll know better after first round. The guy who gets the combination right then could run well all day long and if you don't, you're going to shake the tire and possibly cross the centerline. We've led up to going faster and faster all weekend long, now it's a matter of picking the right combination in the morning to get down the racetrack." No. 5 qualifier - 6.838ET/200.98MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "The Summit Racing Firebird ran real well through the 330 and then the car got pretty loose out there. I've been struggling this weekend because the car keeps going left and I'm having a hard time judging it, but racing at night's never easy when you're running at over 200 mph. We dodged another bullet and got into another show. We didn't qualify here year so we're already ahead there. I guess it just shows you how tough this class is when you have guys like Kurt Johnson that don't make the bump. Now it's down to five of us who've made every race this year. We have lane choice first round. We would've liked to have qualified higher and three thousandths of a second would've made us fourth. Anything can happen on raceday. I'm looking forward to going fast, winning some rounds and maybe a race." No. 7 qualifier - 6.839ET/200.56MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We know we can run fast and depending on what happens in the first round, we may have a decent shot at this thing. At least we're in. We have a good car and if we do the right thing in the morning go some rounds tomorrow." No. 12 qualifier - 6.856ET/200.32MPH

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We tried some different things this weekend on the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. The track was cold, and we were going left and right having a heck of a time. We kind of settled it down tonight and went back to everything we knew. My problem is that I can't see at night with all of that glare so it was kind of a bumpy, wavy, swaying ride. We got something left in it but now we have something we can tune to tomorrow. We went back to the standard program, but came out idling, and then drove off the starting line so it didn't get the car up right off the bat. That cured it because every time we tried to come out with a different gear ratio the car would go right or left. I was pretty excited when I got to the other end because I knew it was good enough to be in, I just didn't know how good it was. When they told me it was a 6.83 I was pretty happy - I knew I wasn't going to get bumped out. We were down to the last run tonight, let me tell you. We kept changing and changing all the way up to the staging lanes. I think the last time we were right under the bridge and got into the clutch for the last time. Then Mike (Edwards) dropped the rpm's right on the starting line and we just drove her out. You'll be surprised at how fast we can go now." No. 6 qualifier - 6.839ET/200.92MPH FUNNY CAR

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "We ran our normal deal out of the box and went a 4.98. We got some new discs here about four races ago and they're so much softer, we're throwing the clutch out of it and we're having to change how we run this e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird. We're getting closer. Last night we smoked the tires because we had it loaded up and this morning it shook because we didn't have enough power in it. It's freezing cold and basically a crapshoot on how much power we're going to have. Hopefully we can get it down the track on this last run. We're real close." No. 12 qualifier - 4.985ET/294.43MPH

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "That should make the show, but it's close, we could get bumped out. Atmospherically, the conditions are outstanding. The hard part is getting the power put to the ground which is tricky. We've been sneaking up on it though. After having trouble at Topeka, we came in here with a little more conservative approach -- ran a 5.14, a 5.13 and kind of saw what it needed. There was some pressure on this morning since we weren't in the show, so we had to step on this Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird a bit more than what we normally would have. I would've liked to have gone a 5.05, and then maybe into the fours, but we had to guess a little bit and take a shot. That gave us the 4.99 and it was still on the conservative side. Andy (Neering) and I feel that there's still a low 4.90 in it real easy. We'll get it ready to run in the low to mid 4.90s, but if we don't have to run we're not going to just so we can save some parts. With the limited crew that we have here this weekend, it's tough on them getting the car prepared for each run. I'd rather go up tomorrow being more prepared, and having my crew warm and rested than worry about qualifying position. They stayed here late last night working on the car and we just might send everyone home for the evening and out of this cold air. The 2000 Pontiac Firebird body has worked great in these conditions. It drives straight as an arrow. It's kind of windy out here and cold and we need all the traction this car gives us. That's one of the advantages of having a body that's as good as this Firebird. On the top end it spun the tires a little bit, but it would have been a lot worse without this car. I think this cold weather and the tricky track conditions plays into the hands of a team like ours, much the same way a bad track helps us out. Everyone has lots of horsepower but you can only put so much of it to the track. You have to finesse it to get the car down through there. You haven't seen a lot of guys smoke the tires, but you're seeing them shake." No. 13 qualifier - 4.997ET/295.08MPH

Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird) - "The weather was in our favor when we were going up to the starting line for our last session. Being the last pair, we had hoped to use it to our advantage. Unfortunately, we had a major Top Fuel accident and a couple of Funny Car fires that delayed the proceedings. The sun went down and it was very hard to negotiate the cold track surface. That's all it took. We'll be all right for tomorrow and the weather is supposed to cooperate. We hear it will be clear and sunny, so we'll be ready to go." No. 5 qualifier - 4.896ET/302.28MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That's a lot better, we had a pretty good day really. We just got behind being a little messed up yesterday, and that kept us from our maximum. But when you've got a 5.02 bump, and you run a 4.95 to get 10th, well you just have to be pretty happy to be in the show. We've got Scotty Cannon in the first round, and he's right ahead of us in points so we'll have a lot of our destiny in our hands. I'm looking forward to it. Scotty will be tough, but so will we. It will be a battle." No. 10 qualifier - 4.958ET/300.20MPH

Tim Wilkerson (Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird) - "That's what we should've done last night. Last night it lost a mag when we broke one of the crank trigger wires. We just took the Levi, Ray & Shoup Firebird back up there as it was, hit the gas and she was hauling down through there like she was supposed to. The thing went one-to-one, spun the tire just a hair and knocked the belt off of it. I figure maybe it was lean, or hurt or something, but we went through it and it's fine. The motor's plenty happy, we just need to get this rubber band to stick clear to the end. It's okay, we'll see what happens. All things considered, we've made three nice laps. The mag died yesterday about five-tenths of a second into the run, and of course when it did that, with the one mag we still went 5.06. That's okay. We're just trying to be consistent. We're not trying real hard to be fast. This car is so quick early that we're really not smart enough to slow it down. But it's not in trouble, nothing looks dangerous, so we're going to take it back up there and run it like that. If we can make it go the end, we'll run it like that all day tomorrow. We took the conservative approach at Topeka on raceday and we're not going to do that again." No. 2 qualifier - 4.871ET/308.64MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "This was not one of our better days, but we've got some smarts and we've got the parts so we'll be here to win tomorrow. We've got Scott Weis in the first round, and that's a little scary. Those guys are confident and feeling like they can do anything. I applaud what they've done. I won't like breaking Scott's heart, but we're here to go rounds." No. 8 qualifier - 4.936ET/267.27MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Scott Weis , Del Worsham , Ron Krisher , Scotty Cannon , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.