Four-Thousandths Of A Second Is A L-o-o-o-n-g Time! RICHFIELD, OH 2/14/05 "Man, I was looking forward to the Winternationals," bemoaned Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk the day following the season-opening NHRA Winternationals. "The last week is one I...
Four-Thousandths Of A Second Is A L-o-o-o-n-g Time!
RICHFIELD, OH 2/14/05 "Man, I was looking forward to the Winternationals," bemoaned Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk the day following the season-opening NHRA Winternationals. "The last week is one I will never forget and hopefully, will never be repeated. Everything that could go wrong, did. It was almost comical, but for us, it was anything but funny."
During the very short off-season Pawuk's team had almost more work than they could handle. Along with re-painting and lettering the transporter, crew chief Marcus Bowen and mechanics Craig Hankinson and Robert Morrow also stripped, prepped and painted Pawuk's 2005 Pontiac Grand Am race car. While all of that was going on Hankinson did double duty, working closely with Mike Smith and Jim Shaver on new engines in the team's Ohio shop. At the same time east coast Pro Stock engine maven Bob Ingles was also prepping a new engine for Pawuk. Everything was to come together in the weeks leading up to the Winternationals.
But, things came unhinged in the week prior to the Winternationals when Ingles reported his engine project wasn't producing the kind of power he'd been seeking. But, Pawuk's own engines were showing a great deal of promise -- until one of them failed spectacularly during a dyno pull.
With just two engines left the team headed for a last- second test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before heading to Pomona, California. On the car's second run down The Strip a connecting rod broke, ruining the team's second best engine.
With only Number 3 remaining the team pulled into Pomona, hoping against hope that they could pull off a miracle, but it just wasn't to be. The car had too much wheelspin on the first attempt on Thursday afternoon, and believe it or not, things went even further downhill from there.
On Friday morning, with rain washing out the qualifying action at the track, crew chief Bowen came down with severe stomach pains, and had to be briefly hospitalized as he suffered through an attack of kidney stones. "I had never experienced anything like that before," said Bowen after being released from the hospital. "What's got me worried now is that the doctors said there's definitely a second stone in my system, and it's going to work it's way out, and soon. I can hardly wait!"
Back at work on Saturday morning, the team made all the right calls, and Pawuk did his job behind the wheel, coming up with an elapsed time of 6.765 seconds, and even though that left them 17th in a 16-car field, they had high hopes coming into the third and final qualifying session, but a 6.804 proved to be too slow to make the show.
"This is obviously disappointing," said Pawuk. "This is exactly where we ended up at last year's Winternationals, which is a heck of a way to start the season. Missing out by just four-thousandths of a second is pretty tough to take.
"With all of the bad news that came out of Pomona for us, there's actually some good news all ready. Robert (Morrow) brought our engines home from the Winternationals in our van while Craig (Hankinson) and Marcus (Bowen) took the rig over to Phoenix. It looks like we can repair our Number 2 powerplant and our best engine, which broke on the dyno. We're already working on the engine we ran in California, and so far things look good, and (Bob) Ingles says he's also headed in the right direction.
"I guess we'll know for sure at the CSK Nationals in a couple of weeks!"
Next: Depending upon the time of engine repairs, the team will test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway prior to the CSK Nationals.
CSK Nationals, Phoenix, Arizona, February 25-27.