Phoenix: Pontiac Racing qualifying notes

PHOENIX, February 17, 2001 - The field is set for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Mike Edwards and his Young Life Pontiac Firebird held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot In...

PHOENIX, February 17, 2001 - The field is set for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Mike Edwards and his Young Life Pontiac Firebird held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot In Pro Stock with an elapsed time of 6.886 seconds at 199.88 mph. Kurt Johnson and his AcDelco Chevrolet Camaro is second, Warren Johnson and his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am is third, Ron Krisher and his Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is fourth and Jim Yates and his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am is fifth. Mark Pawuk is seventh, Richie Stevens is 11th, Bruce Allen is 14th and George Marnell is 15th.

In Funny Car, it was the first four-second field in NHRA history and quickest Funny Car field ever. Dean Skuza capped it all off with a track record elapsed time of 4.805 elapsed time at 308.57 mph. John Force in a mustang is second, Whit Bazemore and his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird is third, Scotty Cannon is fourth and Bruce Sarver and his e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird is fifth.

In Top Fuel, Mike Dunn and his New York Yankee's/GMC Dragster held on to the top spot with a track record elapsed time of 4.521 seconds at 328.22 mph. Larry Dixon and his Miller Lite/GMC dragster is second, Doug Herbert is third, Tony Schumacher is fourth and Gary Scelzi is fifth.

PRO STOCK

Mike Edwards (Young Life Pontiac Firebird) - "We figured we'd be a little bit behind with the Firebirds, but I think once everyone gets a handle on these new cars, they'll really start to shine a lot more than they are right now. We're real happy with our program, happy for Young Life and I'm the happiest guy in the world right now. We qualified No. 1, get to race and tell these young kids about Christ - that's the greatest thing in the world. We still need to make some adjustments on Ron's (Krisher) car - we made a wheelie bar adjustment on his car and he had to shut off. I feel pretty comfortable with my car. It looks like the right lane is the lane of choice for Pro Stock right now. It's hard to get through a section of that eighth mile on the left side, at least for me and that will be something we work on. If it's cloudy like this tomorrow, that left lane may come around, but right now the right side is the lane of choice. I never was scared to work. I want both cars to run so well and sometimes I beat myself up when one doesn't do as well as the other. It's a long season and that's how we need to look at it - it's just not one race. But working with the two cars is definitely harder. This class is so competitive and just to qualify is a big achievement. But to qualify No. 1 and put that Pontiac Firebird up at the top of the ladder is pretty special."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "The right lane is the lane of choice here. This morning we missed an excellent opportunity. We probably should've run a 6.88 or 6.89 but we just missed it a little on the clutch and went 6.90. We've got some problems with our clutch material right now and it's giving us inconsistency. It's just coming apart. It's hard to race a car when it's running inconsistency to be quite honest. We're fighting an uphill battle right now. I mean we're qualified fifth and hopefully that lane will be good enough in the morning so we can go out there and get a round one victory."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Grand Am) - "You always want consistency above everything else. But you also want to be consistently fast. We're close but I'd like to be a bit quicker. It'll come. I'm just glad we qualified for both races so far this year even while we're working out a new car. I expect he'll put us on the left side because almost everyone else is running their best laps on the right side. I guess it really doesn't matter to me because we've been running the same sort of numbers no matter what lane we're in. In fact, the 6.92 I ran was on the left side so lane choice just doesn't seem like as big a deal. Tomorrow against Jeggy it'll come down to driving. If I can get him at the starting line and post a good light then I'll have a real good chance of winning. Once you get past the first round it's anybody's race to win. I just need to concentrate on my job."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am) - "I guess we're pleased with the results but we always would like to run faster and qualify better, but we're in the top-half of the field which is an improvement from Pomona. Since Pomona we've started to run a lot better and more consistent. I think we're heading in the right direction with this new Grand Am and we're going to keep beating on it and hopefully go some rounds tomorrow."

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am) - "We're disappointed but kind of fortunate to be in the field. We haven't made a decent run yet and we're still good enough to be in the show. I think we've got quite a bit of room for improvement and I think we can make some adjustments for tomorrow and give somebody a really good run. I know we won't have lane choice, but I'm not real sure that's a big deal here. Neither lane here is really that special. So the plan is to just look at the data from the last two days and make the necessary adjustments and try to go out there and give someone a good run."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We should've done a lot better then that in the second session. We were in the better lane. But it went dead left into the center lanes and I didn't want to find out what would happen, so I shut it off. We're not real sure what happened yet. We think and hope it was just over clutched. If that's not it then we have a serious problem. But, hopefully it's just the clutch. The Eagle One Firebird will be ready tomorrow and hopefully we'll be able to go some rounds this week."

FUNNY CAR

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Seeing this track you wouldn't think it was even possible to smoke the tires out there. It looks like it will hold anything, but we managed to be too aggressive. This is crazy to be #15 with a 4.95."

After second session: "Are you kidding me? What a huge couple of days of racing. We can run mid to low 4.80's with this car, I guarantee it, but we got a little behind and had to try to run a safe lap that last time to make sure we made the field. Apparently, 4.91's are now safe conservative laps. I was so nervous before that run I could barely breathe. Our sponsor's race, we have a 4.95 on the board and we were in serious danger of being bumped out of this show. That is incredible. Now I get to say what I've been saying since before Pomona: If you're quick enough to make the show, you're quick enough to win. Any one of these 16 cars can win." No. 14 qualifier - 4.915ET/308.85mph

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Every team out here is swinging for the fences, every cut is a home run cut. And a lot of them are connecting. Ten cars in the 4.8's, are you kidding me? Fletch is such a great tuner, this car is a dream to drive. Now we need to keep getting better, and get both of these Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac's in the top half. And if you end up in the top half of this field, you should get a medal."

After second session: "That was a much more important lap than you'd think, considering we slowed down two hundredths. Consistency will win you this race, and quick consistency will be critical. We have a car that will run 4.80's without hurting itself, and I'm very excited to be driving it. Being in the top half of this field is an honor and an accomplishment. I'm really excited about tomorrow." No. 8 qualifier - 4.873 ET/311.56mph

Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "It's been exciting. Yesterday we were dicing with Etchells and today with Force and his guys and it's been fun. The potential was here today for us to make an improvement, but we had a problem with the motor on the last run. It was talking to us in the pits, but we thought it was okay, but when we started it, Lee (Beard) and I both noticed something at the starting line that wasn't quite normal. We were shooting for No. 1 today, and came up short, but this team was outstanding today. The Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird finished up third and now we just need to focus on tomorrow, try to be consistent and try not to have the same problem that we had tonight. We made three very good runs and that gives us a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow. Even with the runs that we made, while they were very good, the car's still not perfect. We're still chipping away on the performance of this Firebird, and when we get it right it's going to be an awfully tough racecar to beat."

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "We're definitely ready to go tomorrow. That last session the track was very, very good. We knew that but we looked at either going for the pole or trying something. We had tried something on the clutch in the first session today that helped us considerably and we wanted to take it a little bit farther to find the limit. If it ran to the finish line the e-moola.com Firebird probably would've grabbed low elapsed time. That doesn't even phase us a bit because we weren't just trying to be No. 1, we were trying something that would help us in the long run. We have a good gameplan, a perfectly good hot rod and we're ready to get it on tomorrow. If it's overcast tomorrow like it was today we can run mid to low 4.80s all day long. The track can hold it. And if the sun comes out, you're still going to have to run high 4.80s to win this race. We were able to do that when it was hot out here and it when it cooled down."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "Well we were going pretty good and everything was going right where we wanted too. The 60-foot was good and the motor felt really strong and then the burst panel let go. At that point the run was over and I had to shut it off. We're going to go back up their tomorrow and put it close to where we had it and try to win a round. No. 15 qualifier - 4.937ET/299.06mph.

TOP FUEL

Mike Dunn (Gwynn/Steinbrenner/GMC Yankee Dragster) - "We're still No. 1, but I really wanted to try and back it up today. We put a new blower on it for the first run and it came up a little soft. We weren't too concerned with it because it was a decent run. For the next run we tried to step it up, but it didn't and it went out there and shook the tires. So we're going to put our other blower on there that we had on yesterday for tomorrow and try and step it up. Hopefully there's not any kind of a problem. They're going to look over it all tonight. Hopefully it will be myself and (Larry) Dixon in the finals because we've both been running so well, it just seems right. But you never know what is going to happen on race day. Seeing how we have a bye tomorrow it does change the strategy a little bit. We'll try and go out there and give the track all it can hold. I don't think I've ever had a first-round bye. The lanes here are real even, so on race day a lot of guys like to go in a little deeper at the starting line because it makes your reaction time better, but makes your elapsed time a little worse. So we will probably just play it safe tomorrow, go up to the line and won't stage to deep. We're still excited about our chances and hope for a great day tomorrow. No. 1 qualifier - 4.521ET/328.22mph

-GM Racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Bruce Allen , George Marnell , Mike Edwards