Pontiac Racing Pomona finals notes

PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Pontiac Firebird) "We made a pretty darn good run in the right lane considering how many guys didn't get down that side. The lane was obviously a little suspect. We made some changes to...

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Pontiac Firebird)
"We made a pretty darn good run in the right lane considering how many guys didn't get down that side. The lane was obviously a little suspect. We made some changes to compensate and my car went right down it - and it ran 200 mph, too. I feel pretty good about what my crew did to get the car down that lane. Considering where we started on the elimination ladder, we didn't want to get too aggressive today. Kurt and I have made a lot of changes in our cars in preparation for next year. We didn't want to go back to our old setups for Pomona Raceway because we're trying to garner more knowledge for next year. I'm not happy about losing the championship, but I'm happy about the progress we made in the second half of this year. We're looking forward to next year with our new cars."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird)
"The transmission just popped out of fifth gear. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird was on a pretty nice run. We were low e.t. of the weekend to the eighth mile, and I don't if it would have run down the back, but I think we could've run a 6.87. The car looked pretty good. We changed some things around on the chassis, and the last run the car made was probably the best run we've made all year. It got out there, I put it in fifth gear, and it didn't go 50 feet before it popped out. Then I couldn't get it back in gear. That's not the way you want to end a season, but the way things have gone, maybe that's one less thing we have to worry about next year - get it out of our system now. All weekend long I've said that I hate to see this season end with as well as we're running now. The car's running great and everything seems to be going good. We felt like we were on a roll and that all we needed was a break, and we got a break - we broke fifth gear. Hopefully by changing years we'll change our luck. Last week when we crashed the car I figured we had it all out of our system and now we can start all over again. But I don't think we can start over again until we get a new car, a new season. The good news is that tomorrow's the first day of 2001 for us. We have a new Grand Am coming and we'll be on the track with it next week testing at Bradenton, Fla. We'll be the first to get the clutch out on the car. We'll go down there, put some runs on it and try to work our way through it. The car, the engine and the program we have now has the potential to run at the front of the pack. We won't run away from anybody but we can run at the front. We're within a hundredth of the fastest cars out here right now and that's what you need."

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird)
"Everybody's real fast out here and you have to do everything perfect all day. I don't know if we could've beat Kurt (Johnson) anyway, he was awfully fast. It's just real tight. You get down to the semifinals and you've got some real good cars - Warren (Johnson), Kurt (Johnson) and Jeggie (Coughlin). Today we got there but we need to get faster to be able to be there all the time. Something happened to the engine on that run and we don't what it was yet. No excuses. It was still a good day. We got a top-10 finish and that never hurts. It's gratifying to run good at the last race of the season. We needed to come here and qualify ahead of Martino and we were able to do that and then we a real good day racing. In the first round we made a really nice run and then in second round it just went crooked and got real loose out there. The first run, everybody's on a new track with a new day and there're a lot of nerves. The fastest car doesn't always win first round. But when you get down to the semifinals, you usually have three or four of the fastest cars here. If you're getting there by being lucky, then you need a break. We wouldn't have beat any of the other three cars in the semifinals that time but I'd say the Reher-Morrison Firebird was one of the four fastest cars out here today."

Richie Stevens Jr. (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird)
"I did everything I could but the right lane is just terrible. The car got loose and it was basically over by half track. Kurt (Johnson) just cruised on down the other side. Part of racing at a one-lane track like this is that you have to go quick enough every round to keep lane choice. We didn't do that today but it doesn't take away from the great season we had. Considering the up-and-down stretch we had in the summer, seventh place is nice. Next year will be my fourth as a pro so it's like my senior year. We wanted to finish higher than we did last year but the top of the class was just too tough. What's cool is we'll have No. 7 on the car next year. Seven has always been my lucky number so maybe 2001 will be the year we break through and win the championship. We need some major funding to get it done but with my crew -- Tommy Utt, John Utt, Vincent Davis, and my dad -- I know we have all the essential pieces in place to win it all."

FUNNY CAR

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com/Hot Wheels Pontiac Firebird)
"After the first round this morning we knew that's what we wanted to run last night. We had that same tune up and the car did basically everything we asked it to do. We were contemplating stepping on it a little harder, but you know, we didn't want to beat ourselves. We don't have as many laps as John (Force) and you never know what may happen when it cools way down. We went up there and made him beat us. I looked over and felt like I was ahead at about 900 feet. He just shot out by about a half a car length and that's the way it ended. The car ran great all the way out - we were just a little shy. This was a nice momentum builder heading into next year - they know we were here. This Firebird is ready to go. Since St. Louis we've been on a fast pace forward. We got a great group of guys together, everyone hung in there and we made some progress. We were calculating it the other day and if we started counting points in July, we'd be a top-five car right now. We couldn't be more tickled heading into 2001. We'll give the guys a little break and then we'll start getting ready for next year. We have a whole new team, a Funny Car team we're putting together. We have two new cars we're building for me. We hope to start testing in December to get our new teammate Bruce Penhall going, start working with him, get double data, and hang on. I'm beat! This has been mentally draining. I'd like to take a couple of weeks off. But it's like after a race, I can't wait to get home and then I get bored and I'm ready to go racing again. I'll take a deep breath, spend some time with my family and then we'll be ready to get it on."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird)
"We have worked hard to be in the Top Ten. I came here thinking we could still grab seventh, or even sixth. But we were determined not to leave any lower than eighth. We were pretty aggressive, but the set-up we had would have been fine yesterday. Instead, the track went away with all the sun beating on it, and a lot of cars had trouble down-track. I just legged it out to get the win light, it was time to have some guts and keep your foot in it. I'm proud of the 18 wins, I'm proud of another Budweiser Shootout berth, and everything else we did this year. What I'm most proud of is our team. I've been around this sport nearly my whole life and I know how difficult it is to find people who work hard, work smart, and mesh like a unit. This group is incredible, and they are some of the best people I've ever met. It would be normal to be at each other's throats after a full year of this, day after day with hardly a break. But this is one very tight group, and they are good friends and great crew people. I can't wait for 2001."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird)
"I wanted to win this thing so bad, especially after the problem Scotty and I had in qualifying. But we had something wrong with the fuel system and it made the car weak, really weak. It was just slow. But I want to say that I'm really proud of what we've done. We put a whole new team together and represented our sponsors well all year. The Winternationals, where we made our debut, seems like ancient history. It's been a long year, and as of this second we're already on 2001 mode. Next year starts right now."

Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird)
"I'm just disappointed. I'm not upset but wish we could have finished better than we did. The boys on the WWF crew worked hard - we tried hard, but we got the bad lane, and a bad draw. Yesterday's rainout really hurt us. "I want to tip my hat to Dale Armstrong and the crew guys. For our first year together, it was total team effort. They're some tough teams out here in our division. Capps and his team also did very good and they've been together for a little while. We moved up from eighth last year to third this season. All we need to do now is move up two positions and that will do it. We really wished we could have had second, but we'll be back in the thick of it next year. "

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird)
"I think when Jim (Dunn) gets a handle on this thing we'll be tough to beat. We just got thrown a curve here a few times and couldn't get the car consistent. We have an excellent team, and great sponsors with Mooneyes, Pontiac and Red Line Oil - a lot of good backing. We also have some good people coming over from my old crew and I'm pretty excited about next year. I'd like to pull out of here and go testing right now if we could. I know when things come around this Firebird is going to be a bad hot rod. I'm going to be putting 120 percent into this program next year to make it a winner. Today we just encountered a bad racetrack. Anybody in the right lane didn't stand much of a chance. They need to do something to make these tracks more even, especially this place. You go out there, you want to be competitive, you lose lane choice and it's over. As soon as you come off the concrete, I mean, this track is old. It's 30 years old, they need to do something with it. We have a lot of good tracks now like Las Vegas, but it's not fair when you're chasing championship points to have to go to a track that's one lane. They really need to get after it and not worry about fining us for oil downs when half the reasons we're having oildowns is because we're spinning the tires so hard on the track. Then you throw the rods out. Improving the tracks would sure help the sport out a whole lot."

TOP FUEL

Mike Dunn (Gwynn/Steinbrenner/Yankee Dragster)
"The front end carried pretty good until I got into some tire shake. I pulled the brake and tried to drive through it, but it wasn't enough. As soon as I let off the brake, the tires went up in smoke and it became a peddling contest, Gary's (Scelzi) one of the best in the business and he's awful hard to catch. They have a great team and deserved the win. We didn't change much from our earlier combination. We had lane choice and the track still looked like it was going to hold a 4.5-second run, so I'm not sure if our problems were mechanical or not. Like I've said all along, we have the combination to run a 4.5 when needed. We just need to find the combination that will allow us to widened our window of opportunity when the conditions don't call for that much horsepower. It was important for us to continue our positive momentum. Each race we competed in, we went one round further than before. Each round win for us was another opportunity to gain valuable information that we can use in the off-season as we prepare for the 2001 season. I think we made a statement," said Dunn. "We've made 13 runs in national event races and the Yankee dragster now holds the three quickest runs under the 90% nitromethane rule. It's a credit to Ken (Veney) and Todd (Smith) and the entire crew who have worked their butts off trying to get us in this position. It has been a true team effort."

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