Phoenix - Pontiac Sunday Notes and Quotes

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 15th ANNUAL CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1999 PHOENIX, ARIZONA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) Lane choice was crucial but like I said in pre-race, we've...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 15th ANNUAL CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1999 PHOENIX, ARIZONA

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) Lane choice was crucial but like I said in pre-race, we've never run this car in the heat so we don't have any record of it's performance in these kind of conditions. We just didn't have the right setup for the heat and that's why we lost lane choice in the first round. We actually could have won the race in the second round from the left lane but just couldn't keep the car straight. We left on him well enough that we should have been able to run at least a 7.05 or 7.06 in that lane. The car just took a right turn. After all the oil downs out there, no one was able to get down through there. For Gainesville, we're going take this GM Goodwrench Firebird out and run the heck out of it until we learn what it likes under these extremely warm conditions. We'll probably be testing in Bradenton next week. It should be hot enough there so that we can get some adequate data. Lost in round two

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) This was our first race with this new engine and we kind of got behind the eight ball trying to find the right combination. We ended up qualifying No. 8 and had a pretty tough run in the first round. We're really impressed with this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird and the engine. We were No. 1 in the afternoon session and we were No. 2 in the first session this morning. This engine has a ton of potential. We're going to Gainesville early to test for a couple of days to try and find the right carburetor and timing combination that will work on that race track. Then we're going back to the dyno, try and find a little more horsepower and then go back to Gainesville ready to rock and roll. The combination we have is pretty fast. We needed a little more horsepower and this DRCE engine really came through. It gives us the raw material to compete with the front of the pack. With that in mind we have to get this car to be as fast as it can be. As long as we can go out there and run good, I think we'll do that. And when that happens, we'll win some races. Lost in round one Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) That was a pretty close race. It's great to win for our team. We really needed the morale boost. It's too bad that it happened against Mike (Thomas). We made a good run and we'll need to do it again in the second round to get by Jeg (Coughlin). We don't have lane choice but about half the guys that won that round didn't have lane choice either. Just like I said before this race, we'll need to be perfect to win.

Second Session: We got qualified and won a round -- we did all right. We're not fast enough so it takes us a little luck to win. We'll just have to continue to improve and get faster where when you have lane choice in a situation like that you use it to your advantage. You have to be fast enough where you can take advantage of other peoples disadvantages. We're not quite there yet. We're going to pick up a new Firebird before Gainesville, get it done, test it and continue to make some changes on the car we raced this weekend. Then we'll have two good cars including a new one that if we get it running better, will just be icing on the cake. We made four successful runs down the race track, not fast enough, but there again, that's nobody's fault but ours. We were fast enough to qualify and we're making progress. As slow as it might be, a few races into the season this Outlaw Pontiac Firebird will be in good shape. Lost in round two

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) We have a long term game plan that's going to make us successful. We were disappointed at Pomona because the lanes were much more even and I didn't do a good enough job of driving. Here at Phoenix, with the way the ladder was, we expected to win the first round, which we did. We felt that if we didn't have lane choice for the second round that we were going to have a problem and it proved itself out. None of the cars in the second round got down the left lane. On the first part of the track, the Dynagear Firebird ran better than any car in that lane that session. But you just weren't going to win out of that left lane short of a miracle or someone red lighting. You have to be realistic and we liked the fact that we got out of here with a round under our belt. Where we are as far as our program is concerned, we felt that it was going to take three or four races for Terry (Adams) to get acclimated with this car under race conditions because he hasn't worked on this particular type of chassis. We felt that if we could just get to the first few races and get qualified and win a couple of rounds here and there we would be on track to be a serious threat by the fourth or fifth race. We'll have a new engine at Gainesville that we brought here -- the race track situation didn't lend itself to letting us bring it out. We're going someplace three or four days before Gainesville, test a couple of engines, work on the race car and the clutch linkage and be ready to go. Lost in round two

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) My hats off to Bruce (Allen). He did everything he needed to do to win and that's the mark of a great driver. The Pennzoil Firebird was way down on power. Just before the run we discovered a slight crack in the head and we just didn't have time to switch motors. We can't catch a break this year so far. It's frustrating to have a car that you know is really fast and then not be able to show it off at the track. We will get all these motors freshened before Gainesville (Fla.) and we'll just have to fight through this dry spell. Lost in round one

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) I thought for the first few hundred feet that this Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird had the win. We actually lost a cylinder on the run and after that happened that was all she wrote. It was a good day though overall even though we had the damage with the supercharger in the semi-final round. To get to the finals is going to move us up in the points which is our primary goal. But if we can advance to the semi-finals at every race and rack up points that way, then I think it won't be long until we're back in contention to win the thing. Sometimes you're going to get runner-ups and you're not going to win them all, so we were very encouraged with our performance this weekend. This was definitely a confidence builder.

This Firebird was steady all weekend even through qualifying. Every round it went down the track and that's what it takes to win. The Pomona non-qualifier was a fluke. This weekend was more like it and there are a lot of rounds and a lot of racing to go. We're going to continue to work and make our Firebird body more competitive so that we're not handicapped with what Force has brought to the table. Runner-up

Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) When I hit the gas the Mad Magazine Firebird darted towards the retaining wall. I didn't worry about it because it was still going along pretty good. I never saw Whit (Bazemore) but kept looking for him while at the same time looking at the wall. I kept turning the wheel a little at a time because if you jerk it you stand a good chance of unloading it. I kept moving towards the wall, and I kept looking and kept looking, and when my wrists were touching that's when I knew it was over. I tried pedaling it but when he went by me the only thing I would have gained was a broken race car. The game plan for Gainesville is to go down there with the same setup that we had here in Phoenix. If we can run well on the first run, come back and make a couple of more runs, then I think we can shake this thing down a little bit more and stay competitive. I honestly thought we would do well today. If Bazemore ran as good as he can then we weren't going to beat him. But like I said before, our plan is to run our race and make them beat us. He did and my hat goes off to him. Lost in round one

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) We did make it down the track this weekend on one lap. The NEC Pontiac Firebird ran a 5.10 and it looked very promising because everything seemed to indicate that it wanted to run really-really good. It was spinning the tires a little bit on the big end and unfortunately it hurt a cylinder head. After changing cylinder heads we've been fighting dropping a cylinder since then. We're not exactly sure what the problem is and thought we had it cured before the last run but it still went out and dropped a cylinder. This Firebird is showing a lot of promise because even on seven cylinders it still is running 5.10. We know as soon as we pick up that last cylinder and get it running on all eight we should be able to run low 4.90s. We're thinking about doing some testing after Gainesville. We're one of those teams that's thinking about going to a five-disc clutch. Lost in round one

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) I believe the race track bit us. If our Firebird makes it past the 1.2 second mark it's usually in good shape. But we had absolutely no problem clearing that landmark. After that, it struck the tires hard. We were out there running with Force and we knew what we had to do to win. We had this Pontiac set to run a 4.84 0r 4.85 and as you can see they knew it was coming. That's why racing John Force is always such a good race. I left on him, did my job, but that left lane is pretty tough out there today. If we wouldn't have smoked the tires it would have been the best drag race of the day. I could look over and just see his front fender so it was going to be close. At least we got our 4.80 hot rod back, that's what's important. We're looking to get back to Gainesville. I feel that place owes me a winner's circle celebration.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , John Force , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Steve Schmidt