PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PIONEER KEYSTONE NATIONALS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1998 READING, PENNSYLVANIA
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) It was a mechanical problem plain and simple. We had a stand break on the clutch. The air gap was low and we thought we were all right, but as soon as I hit the limiter, the clutch engaged and from that time on, I was just along for the ride. Coughlin went out in the same round so this weekend was in essence a wash. We're 20 rounds ahead with 20 rounds to go, so we're closing in. The plan now is to correct the malfunction and make sure it doesn't happen again. Lost in round three
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) The problem is that on race day when it counts, we can't get past first round. The track looked real nice, but the Summit Racing Firebird shook in low and didn't run well to the 330. The way our power is, if we don't run well on the first part of the track, it hurts our ET. I really thought this was our day to go a few rounds. We went four good rounds in qualifying but it's frustrating to lose in the first round. We're going to keep working at it and see if we can't get over the hump. It's kind of a let down when you run real good in qualifying. This is the most consistent we've run all year and that in itself is something we can build on going into Topeka. Lost in round one
George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) We are light years ahead of where we were just a few races ago. I believe this Tenneco Firebird is back in the hunt. We made five good runs this weekend and we're looking forward to getting to Topeka. We were the second fastest car that session, in that lane next to Mike Thomas. I've never felt this good about a first round loss in my life. We made our best 60-foot time ever and that was in the bad lane. Lost in round one
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) I must have a problem with the engine because nobody beats me at the other end of the track like that. All season our strong point has been the ability to drive away from people from half-track on. Today, Jeggy just pulled away from me. My hat goes off to those guys. They flat-out beat us. This has been a great weekend for us. We're real close to having this Pennzoil Firebird back where we were when we won in Chicago. My reaction times are better, the team is real focused and the clutch is right where it needs to be. I can't wait for the next race. I guarantee you, we can win a few events before this year is up. Lost in round two
Del Worsham (Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) There are a lot of big stories here with everyone watching the points deal and looking at those cars at the top. But let me tell you, that first round win over Al Hofmann was a huge win for us. He was eight points behind us in the standings with us in ninth place and Hofmann in 10th. Ninth place was up for grabs right there, and to us , the Winston top 10 is what the rest of this season is all about.
We pulled out all the stops to beat John Force. We were aiming to run a 4.99 or something like that. It wouldn't have surprised me if we would have smoked the tires actually. It just hurt itself down at the top end, blackened a bearing and chewed up some stuff. We're staying here tomorrow to test this new clutch set-up. We tried it for three qualifying runs here, and it kept looking better and better, but we had to bail out on it for that last qualifying pass when we needed to get in the show. We didn't run it today, but we hope to work out the kinks enough to make it part of our regular day-to-day operation. Lost in round two
Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) The Parts America Firebird left well and was on a good run, but we started leaning to the center early on. I tried to pull it back, but couldn't and had to shut it off. I don't know whether I actually hit a cone or just blew it over, but either way, the result is the same. Right now, we have more power in this Firebird than we've ever had, and we're going to my favorite track. I've had five straight final round appearances at Heartland Park and six out of the last seven. We're more prepared for a victory than we have been all year, and I expect big things at the Parts America Nationals. During qualifying, our 60-foot times were our best ever! We dropped a cylinder at 1.2 seconds into the run yesterday, but my 300 foot times were still better than they had been at Indy. We were really hauling. Then we lost our blower belt and ended the run with a 5.14. Lost in round one
Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) The motor we had last night had a little less power than the motor we used today. We knew coming into today that the GM Performance Parts Firebird was really going to have to get after it. After changing motors, it revved 300 rpms higher than the motor we used last night, and that created about 30 to 40 grams more of clutch than we anticipated. We discussed it before the run and decided to turn it up a little bit. After watching Force run, we realized that we were going to need a pretty good pass, and if we had any chance of beating him in the second round, we were going to need lane choice. We didn't want to go hunting a bear with a switch! We made some adjustments before the run and it just didn't work out. We're staying tomorrow to test with our goal being to do whatever we need to do to get the job done. Lost in round one
Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We're kind of evaluating the run trying to find out what happened. It just got out there, shook a little bit and knocked the tires out of it. We felt that we had that problem solved because the JCIT Firebird had run so well on Friday. We tried some things yesterday and didn't learn what we needed to learn. That's OK though, we'll keep our heads up, go to Topeka and see if we can't get a win there. We're going to stay in Topeka and test there if for some reason we don't run well. We're making little steps to fix this car and with the hard work all the guys have been putting in, I think you'll see this Firebird stepping it up. Lost in round one
Shelly Anderson (Parts America/Pontiac) People ask me how I feel about not qualifying. What can you say? It's upsetting; it's frustrating. It's a lot of things, and none of them are good. This is a new car for us, and it's got a lot of potential. On a positive note, the car didn't hurt any parts this weekend, and that's an improvement over Indy.
Cory McClenathan (McDonald's Pontiac) We had an ignition failure and that's why the car fell off. As soon as the engine started I got concerned because it didn't sound right. I could tell the RPMs were down and when I stepped on the throttle it seemed like the car was stuck. We had a malfunction with one (of the two) of the magnetos. We were looking to run another low 4.60 which would have been good enough to win. I was impressed that we ran a 4.71 with only one magneto working.
I'm disappointed, but not discouraged, about losing the points lead. With five races and 20 rounds of competition remaining there's plenty of time to make up the deficit. However, I would be depressed if we didn't have a solid race car going into the last five races, but that's not the case with us. What is a little discouraging is that at the last three races our car really ran well, but we don't have much to show for it (second round and two semi final round finishes). We've won races when the McDonald's car wasn't as strong as it is now. You need a little luck sometimes and definitely have to avoid mechanical problems.