Pomona Pontiac Racing Friday Qualifying Notes

POMONA, Calif. (November 13, 1998) - After two days of qualifying for the Winston Finals at Pomona Raceway, Warren Johnson remains the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock with a run last night of 6.891 seconds at 201.02 mph in the GM Goodwrench Service...

POMONA, Calif. (November 13, 1998) - After two days of qualifying for the Winston Finals at Pomona Raceway, Warren Johnson remains the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock with a run last night of 6.891 seconds at 201.02 mph in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird. Today he continued his torrid assault on the 200 mph barrier with a qualifying run of 6.948 seconds at 200.04 mph. A shuffling in the Funny Car field has Cruz Pedregon in the No. 1 qualifying spot. His Interstate Batteries Firebird ran 4.947 seconds at 284.62 mph. Tim Wilkerson is qualified second and Al Hofmann is third.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We were a little too aggressive today to run a quicker e.t. The clutch was set up for a track with more traction than we had today. The car spun the tires on the starting line, locked up the clutch, and got a little out of control. The 60-foot time fell off to 1.052 seconds, and that affected the rest of the run. We were on the edge yesterday, so we backed up a bit - we just didn't back up far enough. As far as running 200 mph again, I'm just along for the ride.

I don't foresee tomorrow morning's session being dramatically better. We're looking at perhaps a hundredth of a second of improvement. No. 1 qualifier - 6.891ET (track record) / 201.02MPH (track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) I think the track is excellent. We've had good luck with it, the traction seems to be good, but the middle still feels a little bumpy. Once they run more fuel cars down through there, that will actually help us. This track is only run on a couple of times a year with this kind of horsepower and it takes a while for the middle of the track to get worked in real well. We need to work on trying to get the tune up on the motor correct, working with the timing and the carburetors. Obviously, we're a little off on our combination. The Splitfire/Peak Firebird is running real strong to the eighth mile and then it's laying down a little bit to the finish line. We have to tune it up and see if we can't keep it strong all the way to the end. If it gets as hot tomorrow as it was today, then the session might be a hundredth faster. We'll just have to wait and see. No. 6 qualifier - 6.939ET / 198.32MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) Whatever problem we're having, we're having a difficult time isolating it. That's tough because it's hard to work on the problem when you don't know what it is. The question we're asking ourselves is why are we running so slow. We've changed motors, batteries, fuel pumps, ignitions and all of the normal things that give you problems and nothing is pointing at the problem. Tomorrow morning we're going to have an excellent opportunity to make a good pass and we have to take advantage of it. I'm confident we can do that. The Outlaw Pontiac Firebird is a good race car and it just takes one little move and you can put yourself right back into contention. That's what we'll be working on here tonight, and hopefully we can get moving in that direction.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We're not where we would like to be and we're definitely not comfortable sitting in the No. 11 position tonight. I think tomorrow morning is going to be the key and I'll be surprised if a 6.96 stays in. We're planning on running better than that though, and hopefully that won't be a problem. The Summit Racing Firebird has made some tremendous strides over the last month and a half and I'm confident that we can keep that momentum going. No. 11 qualifier - 6.961ET / 198.58MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) That was a decent run but it wasn't as high a quality of run as we expected. I've got to work at getting this Pennzoil Firebird off the starting line a little faster. Plus, we're spinning the tires a little bit in every gear, which is something we need to eliminate. Tomorrow morning's run is all-important. There is no question that it will be the best session of the race and it will also be real similar to what we'll see on race day. Each round is getting better because there is more and more rubber on the track. If you're a race fan, I wouldn't miss tomorrow morning for anything. We'll all be flying. No. 8 qualifier - 6.950ET / 199.24MPH

Tom Martino (Jesel Valve Train Pontiac Firebird) This race track just amazes me. It's much better than it looks like out there. We knew that though. Yesterday we were too heavy and overcompensated. Today the Jesel Valve Train Pontiac just made a nice run. We would have been real happy to run another 6.96 or a 6..95, and we ran a 6.94, so I'm a hundredth more happy. That was a really good session for this car. This Firebird is fast and I hope one of our other two cars is just as fast. I think we're probably safe from not getting bumped out, but you still want to stay in the top half. We have the bad lane and we're the first pair out, so we're going to have go out and do what we did today, and then I think we can end up maybe No. 6 or No. 7 again. Then we'll put our new motor in for the last session. We think it's two hundredths faster and I want to save it for race day. No. 7 qualifier - 6.946ET / 198.80MPH

George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) Tomorrow morning is going to be the key session and the Tenneco Firebird is going to be ready. We were eighth in today's session so that shows that we were able to pick up with the rest of the field. Hopefully, if we don't do anything stupid we'll put this car in the top half. I definitely feel we're getting closer to where we need to be. Each session we keep making incremental improvements and that's how you get a race car ready for Sunday. The air was worse today and we still improved. That's pretty impressive. Other than being a little slow at 60 foot, the rest of the run was decent. We lost a couple of hundredths there and it would have run a 6.94 if not for that. No. 13 qualifier - 6.965ET / 198.58MPH

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) I said yesterday that the more this track is run on, the better the times get. That's what happened to us today. We had a great run going, but the engine wasn't running real strong at the end so I shut it off. That's why the speed was 284 and not 310. There's a lot left in the Interstate Batteries Firebird, but that was a good session for us because our goal coming into today was just to get it in the show. Wes (Cerny) and the crew did what they had to do. It's nice to be able to have a car that you can tweak in any direction and it responds to whatever you want it to do. We backed it down that time and it still ran 4.94. It moved over to the left on me a little. I was kind of preoccupied with the sound of the engine and how the power was transferring through the bell housing. I probably wasn't as focussed as I should have been. That's okay though. We got the elapsed time out of it and tonight we're going home the No. 1 qualifier. The big thing is that we're continuing that strong qualifying pace. I've always said that the wins will come if we can just keep that kind of performance up. Wilkerson made a good run in front of us. Whenever another car makes a good pass like that, it gives us a little more confidence and a little more information on where the track is. The car was wanting to run a 4.89 or a 4.90 flat, and that probably would have happened if I could have got it to the finish line. We run it as far as we can, and I feel if we can get it close to the finish line, we can still get a decent elapsed time out of it without the engine damage. That's our game plan and it works well. If we can get the car down there about 1200 feet and it starts sounding funny, unless it's race day it's better to shut it off. This thing makes a ton of power and you have to respect it. This car has been so good to us that we don't want to hurt it. We're happy and hopefully tomorrow we can go out and make two good passes. We'll sleep better tonight than we did last night, I can tell you that. No. 1 qualifier - 4.947ET / 284.62MPH Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) Actually, the GM Performance Parts Firebird was running a little better than it did yesterday. We made a little change in the clutch, it made a big clang sound, and I didn't know what it was so I just shut it off. We have a nice setup that seems to get this car through our bad spots, and it seems to be running pretty good. That's what we've been working on out here, getting this thing ready for Sunday and next year. We're real encouraged about tomorrow morning and I'm pretty confident that we can step it up. After we got it back to the pits, we couldn't find anything wrong, so we don't know what caused that sound. We looked at the computer and at all of the parts and nothing seems to be wrong. We're just being cautious. It wasn't going to run too much better than yesterday so we sure weren't going to throw caution to the wind. We're pretty encouraged so far with the way the weekend's going, especially with the problems we've been fighting all year, so we'll come out tomorrow and give it another shot. No. 3 qualifier - 4.976ET / 307.58MPH

Del Worsham (Checkers Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We thought we backed it down, but we ran the second quickest times of my career out to about half-track, ahead of our 4.98 runs in Dallas. We just flat overpowered the track out there at the end. I couldn't see any reason to blow it up pedaling it out there, so when the tires broke loose I just shut it off. Now we have a real good idea of where we are, and what we have to do to get down there with a real good time. Normally you wouldn't look at a 5.49 run and think of it as a good thing, but this one sure was. We learned a lot on that run. No. 12 qualifier - 5.496ET / 179.35MPH

Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) We dropped a cylinder at the hit and it was everything I could do to keep the car away from the center. I had my hands criss-crossed and the darn thing didn't want to move over. It wasn't a great pass but the Parts America Firebird is in the show - for now. We're not confident at all that the time will hold up, so we'll try and make a couple of good runs tomorrow and move a little more safely in the field. No. 9 qualifier - 5.345ET / 266.27MPH

Dale Creasy (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) We're doing all right but I think I might have hurt it that time. It kind of laid over a little bit, then it came back to life, so I thought the clutch was coming in, but it wasn't. All of a sudden it got real weak, wasn't pulling like it should and I started spinning the tires. We were smoking the tires and I stayed with it to the finish line. The early numbers are so good compared to the final elapsed time that something just doesn't make sense. Right now we're not doing anything wrong. We're getting this Creasy Racing Firebird through the middle just like it's supposed to do. Something's not right thoigh and we're just going to have to figure it out. No. 7 qualifier - 5.265ET / 271.32MPH

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We put a hole out pretty early. I think the middle of the track is marginal so I was really impressed with what Cruz (Pedregon) was able to do. I talked to Wes (Cerny) before they ran and he said they were going to step on it a little. As soon as he said that I knew that Cruz was going to put up a big number. We're very proud with our run though. I had to drive the JCIT Firebird around a little bit out there. We think if we can get it to go straight, we can definitely improve on the 4.96. We're happy with that at this point. This is the last race of the year and I was a little nervous about not being qualified after the first day. We're going to try and go out tomorrow and do the same thing. We only had seven cylinders from about two-and-half seconds on to the end, and it's not going to run 310 mph on seven cylinders. No. 2 qualifier - 4.968ET / 293.63MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell