Phoenix Pontiac Saturday Review

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 15th ANNUAL CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1999 PHOENIX, ARIZONA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We looked at the run we made on Friday morning versus...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 15th ANNUAL CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1999 PHOENIX, ARIZONA

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We looked at the run we made on Friday morning versus the run we made Friday afternoon, compared the two runs, their consequential results and made some changes for this morning's run that we felt would work when it gets warm. It obviously worked pretty decent this morning, so we made more changes this afternoon in an effort to see what this GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird will do when it really gets hot. We knew we weren't going to get bumped out, so that wasn't a concern and we didn't think anyone would run better than a 6.92. Therefore we made some changes because we haven't run this car under these conditions, and it takes a considerably different setup than the car we raced last year. This is the first opportunity we've had to run it on a hot race track and the changes we made this afternoon were some that we never even made on the other car - to see if it works. If it does then we use it and if it doesn't, then we don't even think about using it. We found out what we wanted to know, we'll make the appropriate adjustments and we'll be in good shape. Those changes we made to the car this afternoon did precisely what we expected them to do. The elapsed time wasn't what we expected - we expected to run about a 6.98 with that configuration if it did what we thought it would do. It did it somewhat excessively, but we got from one end of the race track to the other in that left lane where a lot of people didn't. We can take what we learned from this morning's run, make a few minor changes in it to compensate for the hotter race track we're going to encounter tomorrow, and I feel that even with the heat, this Firebird should be able to stay in the middle-6.90's. The real key to winning the race tomorrow though is not having the driver screw up. As long as the crew and the driver agree on a setup that will work in the heat, it will be up to the driver to uphold his end of the bargain." No. 1 qualifier - 6.920ET(track record)/199.64MPH(track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We really are struggling to find a combination that will work with this new motor. Bob Ingles has worked very hard over the winter to get it right and we've found that it has a completely different power curve of anything we've ever seen. It looked pretty good testing in Darlington but when we came out here the air conditions were completely different so we had to change our tune up. Quite frankly, we've been struggling all day to find a combination. On that last run we pulled a couple of more factors out, plugged them in, changed the gear ratios, messed with the carburetors, adjusted the timing and it rewarded us with a big elapsed time. To run that 6.99 in the last session with the air as bad as it was, I think that's a good indicator of what we can do tomorrow. The track should be about the same as it was this afternoon and we may need to tune the car up a little more if we want to keep lane choice. This Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird has plenty of potential. There was a lot left in that run tonight and we're just hoping we can get four more in tomorrow. We've got a combination on this Firebird that looks like it's going to be pretty adjustable when the conditions change. It doesn't hurt it very much to slip the clutch. It has a lot of power up high so that when you slip the clutch it runs right into it and takes off. As long as we don't choke it too hard with the clutch, it runs pretty fast. We're just going to go out tomorrow and find a combination that will run with the weather. The biggest problem we have is finding out how to tune the carburetors because we have absolutely no idea what to do. We're sitting with a combination where we don't know whether to put more fuel in it or take fuel out. We'll just maybe move it for first round to see how it runs and take it from there, one round at a time. We had plenty of confidence coming in here this weekend. Our problem was that it was false confidence. The engine had plenty of power and we knew if we could apply it to the ground it would be fast. But the trouble is that we didn't realize how hard it was going to be under these circumstances. This is a really tough track and a lot of good cars didn't qualify. We handicapped ourselves one more notch with the new motor. All's well that ends well though. We're qualified in the top half of the field and even though it's the tough side of the ladder, we're just glad to be racing on Sunday with a fast car. Now it's up to us to make something happen." No. 8 qualifier - 6.993ET/197.45MPH Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) "This was certainly a big step in the right direction. And we can still improve. The Outlaw Firebird had tire shake that round which probably cost us a couple of thousandths of a second. But we're real pleased to be in the field and I would guess that we'll stay there because it will be too hot this afternoon for anyone to bump us. Although you never know who will step it up and make a great run. There are still plenty of great drivers behind us."

Second Session: "The run this morning was an accumulation of adjustments made from the first two runs. It felt like the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird would run quicker than it had been, but whether or not it was going to qualify was our main concern. When the pressure was on we made a pretty good pass to get in the show. This afternoon we adjusted for what we felt the track would give us and we actually went a little too far on the conservative side. The track had a little bit more than we thought it would have. That's great information for tomorrow. The encouraging thing is that we made four complete runs down the race track and every one of them have been in the top 16 of the field. Maybe not in any particular order but at least we're making successful attempts down the track. Usually from there we can work on the car and improve. I thought this afternoon we had made a good run as compared to the rest of the field, but when I looked at the timing sheets it ends up that there were a lot of good runs. We were around 14th of the session and there were a few cars that shut off and didn't make good runs. This new Firebird has always run good elapsed times, it just hasn't run as much speed as we would like. But every time we make a run we get a little more comfortable, a little more confident and a little more data. Getting by the first round is always a big deal though. When you get out there on the same track with 15 other people a lot can happen. We'll make a run and someone will have to beat us - we won't beat ourselves. But that's what you have to do when you're not the fastest car." No. 14 qualifier - 7.003ET/195.51MPH

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) "We made a pretty nice run to put us in the top-half of the field. Terry Adams (crew chief) has basically had this Dynagear Firebird dialed in all weekend. All I had to do was get it to the finish line. I probably could have done a little better job this morning. I shifted out of low gear early and that probably cost us a couple of hundredths. We could easily have been No. 3 or 4 and that just shows that the crew is doing a great job in making us competitive again. I think we're okay for tomorrow. We're going back into the left lane tonight which is not as good as the other lane and that will give us a little feel for our race day setup. Our goal is just to make a real good run tomorrow morning, win the first round and run fast enough to stay in the right lane if we can. I think we're knocking at the door of being real fast. We've come a long way race car wise and I think we're in pretty good shape from an engine standpoint. We actually brought a new engine here and as it turned out, we weren't able to run it. So we will probably debut it at Gainesville. It's significantly better than what's in our car now and I'm pretty confident that it's going to take us to the next level where we want to be." No. 7 qualifier - 6.990ET/197.80MPH

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "On Friday morning, I think we just missed the clutch a little bit. We had a decent pass but nothing really to write home about. The Dynomax Firebird was definitely capable of running better than what it did. And then last night, we burnt up some push rods and bent a valve. So we stayed last night, fixed it and then Bob (Cave) just did a great job calling the clutch this morning. We were the first pair out and we were a little concerned about that. But as it worked out, the track was in pretty decent shape, and even though we spun the tires we still turned in a pretty good time. I think that's a tribute to the crew and their ability to keep this car consistently quick. Our speed fell off during the morning session, but we were strong up to about 1000 feet and then it started to lay over. We have a little bit left in the car and the left lane was somewhat shaky this morning from about mid-track on. With a little better race track and if we can keep this motor healthy for the entire quarter-mile, I think we have enough speed to be a contender tomorrow." No. 4 qualifier - 6.979ET/197.25MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "We finally made a run that's somewhat indicative of what this Pennzoil Firebird is capable of doing. Still we could go a lot faster than that and hopefully we will before the weekend is over. The car is running really strong and the track was holding up well. It's nice to make a good run like that in the third round because the conditions should be exactly the same tomorrow when we start racing for real." No. 3 qualifier - 6.956ET/197.97MPH

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "Wes (Cerny) is always thinking of what we can do to improve. We got it in the 4.80s; we're not No. 1, but we're the No. 2 qualifier and we're pretty pleased with that. The Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird made it to the other end with good speed and it was stuck all the way down the race track. We made some adjustments to make that happen but that's why they give us four runs to figure this stuff out. I feel real good about going out and racing this thing tomorrow. The combination looks good and we'll just race the race track. The first round will probably be good and then it will get a little trickier after that. But I'm sure Wes has a game plan that will keep us competitive and in a position to win." No. 2 qualifier - 4.888ET/309.84MPH

Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "Tomorrow we'll just try and win three or four rounds and see what happens. We'll just run our own race and make them beat us. We may give the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird a little more power but then we have to contend with spinning the tires. In the first round we can beat anybody - you don't want to take us lightly. If everyone runs as good as they are capable of running then they can probably take us. But if they slip, we'll take them out. It will be a good day." No. 14 qualifier - 5.103ET/286.56MPH

Del Worsham (Checkers Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "I can't tell you how mad I was when we had to shut off. Everyone was making their big statements out there in the last session and we were ready to do it right along with them. This CSK Pontiac Firebird wants to run. It's' been on the edge of a 4.90 or a high 4.80 all weekend and we didn't get the chance. When the crew lifted the body after the burnout they saw a small oil leak from the area of the oil filter. As they watched it and put a rag to it, it started leaking faster and faster. We didn't have any other choice but to shut it off. When we got back here to the pit we found a small crack in the steel line that carries oil to the filter. Maybe a fatigue or stress crack, who knows, but I guess the silver lining is to find it now and not on Sunday. I know this Firebird is a top-half qualifier, so I'm not happy at all to be heading into Sunday from the No. 12 spot. But what the heck, you've got to beat some good cars to get anywhere these days. After the first round it really doesn't matter. We'll put in a hard night's work and be ready tomorrow." No. 12 qualifier - 5.043ET/253.33MPH

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "This car has beat me up in every direction that it can. Out of the 70 runs we have on this Firebird, that last one is the only one that has gone to the finish line with all eight holes lit. We had our problems yesterday with our engine gremlins. Once we saw tonight that we weren't going to be bumped out, we made a few changes in the car at the line. We spiffed the motor up from the first session and everything seemed to work real well. It was a little nervous on the top end but we managed to get her down through there. She burnt the right head up pretty good but the left side looked great so we're only half way screwed up. But things are looking good. We have lane choice, we made our best run of the year and now we just have to see if we can't make something happen with it. If this Pontiac goes to the finish line it can run with the best of them. The motor was eating itself up at the finish line so that's why we scrubbed off the speed. We had it running pretty lean today because of the motor damage we've experienced over the last few days. We're just trying to be careful with our parts. We don't have an unlimited budget so we have to conservative with what we have. Anytime I hurt this stuff it becomes real personal." No. 8 qualifier - 4.997ET/299.00MPH

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , George Marnell , Terry Adams , Steve Schmidt