Pontiac Racing Gainesville Review

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 30th ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 1999 GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "You get 20 points whether you set the record by a thousandth of a...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 30th ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 1999 GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "You get 20 points whether you set the record by a thousandth of a second or by a tenth. I tapped both ends as gently as I could. It's all in a days work. We haven't come to terms yet with this track yet; we just haven't been able to adapt to it. We probably left a full hundredth on the table because we don't have the transmission gear ratios we need. We're crutching the gear ratios as best as we can, and hoping that we don't outguess ourselves on this track. The wind is certainly a factor today; the car is moving around at the top end considerably. We adjusted the rear spoiler for more downforce, and apparently that helped because the speed increased one half mile-per-hour. Even though adjusting the spoiler increased the aerodynamic drag, it helped us get a grip on the race track. We'll just live with it and do the best we can."

Pontiac Racing Note - Warren Johnson raced to the quickest and fastest Pro Stock run in NHRA history today in the second round of eliminations at the Mac Tools Gatornationals. Johnson's GM Goodwrench service Plus Pontiac Firebird set the national elapsed time record at 6.866 seconds and the speed record at 201.37 mph breaking the marks he set last October in Dallas of 6.867ET/201.34MPH. Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We've been chasing the tune up on this engine quite a bit. We've only had this engine in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird since Phoenix and when we get the tune up close it runs really good. What we did yesterday was that we overreacted, burned the head gasket out of it and that hurt us a little bit. Today we put a new head gasket in it, then tried to change the timing around, tuned the motor differently and it ran consistent and fast. We're creeping up on it a little bit at a time. This motor has a ton of potential and I think we've only scratched the surface. I'm extremely pleased with the way this Firebird ran. We just have to go to every race and run just a little bit faster each time out. When we're in the same lane as the fast cars I think we can run with everyone with maybe the exception of Warren (Johnson). We're going to go back, check the motor out, make sure it's healthy again, put two new head gaskets on it and see if we can't burn it up again. We've got to keep pushing the envelope! We have to know where the edge is. Once we find out where the edge is, then we can back up a little bit and stay safe. Today we may have backed up a little bit too far and it may have hurt our performance somewhat. But we had to stay conservative and we had to stay healthy enough to go four rounds. We'll go home, fix it back up, go to some track close to Houston, maybe Houston itself, and try to find a good engine tune up that will run fast in those conditions without burning the motor up."

"Our goal is to get qualified at each race and then win as many rounds as we can when we get qualified. It's going to take us a little while to turn this engine program around into something that can compete with Warren (Johnson). He's had a lot of time with this DRCE engine and it's only our second race with it, so we can't expect to run as good as he runs. But give us two or three more races and maybe we can close that gap and make a run at him for the championship. We just can't give up too much spread at this stage of the season. We have to stay as close to him as we can. He's the man to beat and you can't take anything away from him. He's top speed and top qualifier at every race and every round. You have to go after Warren if you want to this thing. Hopefully we won't give up too many rounds before we catch up with him performance wise."

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) "The track came to us yesterday to get us qualified, and the Century 21 Firebird had enough power for us to slide into the lineup. We went 2.47 down the back at 199 mph which was good enough for a 6.99 elapsed time. We can't go 1.08 to 60-foot in a Pro Stock car and expect to win. We've done that twice this weekend and it's really cost us. You have to run this car with practically no clutch in it, otherwise it shakes after that and you can't get down track. It still spins the tires out of control. We need to make a major change. We've been working on the same areas trying to put some bite into it and we really haven't had an opportunity to test it yet. After Pomona we went back for quarter panel repairs, and after Phoenix we went back and had the paint job redone. We tested one day before we came here and unfortunately it was at a track that had an excellent starting line. We didn't do very well but it wasn't bad. Our hope was that it would be good enough to get us through Gainesville. We got here and the starting line was horrible. This used to be one of the best tracks to come to - one of those no brainer tracks where you come in, screw the clutch in and probably run the same clutch the whole weekend. You just had to adjust your starting line rpm to get off the line. It would take as much clutch as you could put in it without shaking the tires off the line. We either stopped being really good or we need to start doing something different. We worked awfully hard over the winter and I can't believe it was all for nothing. We'll stay and test and get ready for Houston." George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "We have a new race car, and we keep improving on the Dynomax Pontiac Firebird but I think one of the problems that we're going to correct is the clutch pedal. It's actually too far away. We put some new linkage in it and it seems to work very good, but I'm having a hard time moving my leg to shift. We're going to move the pedal back a little bit and hopefully that will improve my reaction time a little bit. We're just have to keep fine tuning this Firebird and by the time we get to Houston we'll have a fast competitive race car. In order to take enough clutch out of the car to get off the starting line without shaking the tires real bad, we're leaving at a real low rpm -- much lower than what we're used to. That, and with the starting line not being as good as it could be, we're spinning the tires on top of that. You start piling all of those factors up and it makes it look like you're sleeping out there but the car's just not reacting. You have to get the car down the race track and if you load the clutch up too hard you're going to shake the tires, but you have to take enough clutch out of it to get it to launch. On a good race track, you get the rpms up, you hit it hard, the car takes off and it shows up in the reaction time. It doesn't take much to be a couple of hundredths off and that's usually the difference between winning and losing."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We just have to figure out how to run this Summit Racing Firebird on race day. We have plenty of power, but I need to improve on my driving and see if we can't get a break some where that will get us a couple of rounds. We were ahead of him to about 330 feet but the car just got a little uncontrollable and I had to let up. It's a real let down because the car ran so good this weekend and everyone's been working real hard to make us competitive. We really felt optimistic today and when we've needed a confidence booster, we just haven't got it. We're not quitters that's for sure, so we'll keep working hard and we'll be ready for Houston."

FUNNY CAR

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) "As far as the weekend went, the JCIT Pontiac Firebird didn't win but I'm just happy that we qualified and got back to racing. We struggled with the new clutch combination that we ended up with last year and we're still fighting the same thing. This thing is very aggressive in a certain spot, it falls off the tire real bad and then it's real aggressive again. All of the testing that we did at Houston and Phoenix is starting to pay off. The car's going down the track and that's all that counts. We'll stay here and test tomorrow and see if we can't learn some more good stuff."

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "The Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird really had a good weekend. We came off the trailer and ran our career best at 5.04. We didn't know what to expect today so we left it alone, the car did exactly what we wanted it to do and he just out ran us. We're not going to race anybody - we're going to race ourselves and make the other guys beat us. If I can get down the track every Sunday, I'm going to win some races. If we can get a little bigger fuel pump that should get us into the fours. Our pumps are a little outdated, and if we can get some more fuel in the car.'"

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "This is probably not a surprise, but we're going to stay here and test tomorrow. It seems like that's the way this year's been so far. The fuel pump gremlins got me again - we were down three gallons and it just shook the tires loose. The clutch we seemed to use worked okay because we were right beside him, but I don't know if we could have run 4.79 -- that's pretty stout. We could have run in the 4.80s though. We really can't afford to test but at the same time we can't really afford not to test. We're going to stay here as long as it takes to get this Pontiac Firebird running fast. Before we leave here we will have some direction on where we need to go. You just can't go out anymore and call a 4.95 a good run because that's not going to win races."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Dale Creasy Jr. , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell