No sunshine for Pawuk on West Coast swing. SONOMA, CA 8/5/02 "This has been the most difficult and frustrating month of my entire Pro Stock career," admitted Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk after he failed to qualify for the NHRA Fram-Autolite Nationals at...
No sunshine for Pawuk on West Coast swing.
SONOMA, CA 8/5/02 "This has been the most difficult and frustrating month of my entire Pro Stock career," admitted Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk after he failed to qualify for the NHRA Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. "We've gone into each of these races, first the Mopar Parts Mile-Highs in Denver, and then the Lucas Oil Nationals in Seattle, with a lot of confidence that we were heading in the right direction, but we've been disappointed each time.
"We discovered some mechanical problems late in the going in Seattle and made some wholesale parts changes that we thought had cured the problem. Well, we did solve one major glitch, but we just didn't have enough power to make the show in Sonoma.
"I still feel our Summit Racing Pontiac has the right ingredients to be a winner, and we're determined to prove that. No matter what happens during the rest of the season, we aren't going to give up, and we aren't going to back off. Maybe we've been too conservative in our approach, but if that's the case I think you'll see major changes when we get to Brainerd. Rob Downing and I have had a meeting with everyone on the team, and from now on we're going to make some radical changes to the way we run our Pontiac Grand Am. We're going to try some things that we were reluctant to do in the past, but at this point we've got to start qualifying.
"We all know how tough it is out here. Just look at what happened this past weekend. There's just no better indicator than that. But there's an upside, too. You saw both sides of the see-saw this weekend, with Warren (Johnson) failing to make the field, and Larry (Morgan) winning. That told to us that if we make the right decisions with our car, no matter how radical they might appear, the results could put us right into the thick of the action on Sunday, and that's where we need to be,"
Pawuk was referring to the fact that five-time points champ Warren Johnson's string of 303 consecutive national event qualifications came to an end in Sonoma. On the other hand, Larry Morgan, who had been struggling this season as has Pawuk, suddenly got it all together, and won for the first time. Two other two-time tour winners in 2002, Bruce Allen and Mike Edwards, also DNQ'd in Sonoma. As of this writing only one driver has qualified for every race, while a year ago that number stood at nine.
"There are eight races left in the NHRA POWERade season," Pawuk added. "I'm determined that our Summit Racing Pontiac is going to play a major role in the outcome of each one."
Pawuk's efforts in that direction include some intensive dyno testing during the next week, followed by an important testing outing during the Pontiac Nationals at Norwalk Raceway Park. "I think this car's going to be running a lot harder by the time we get to Norwalk, and it should be even stronger in Brainerd when the tour continues."
Pontiac Nationals, Norwalk Raceway Park, August 9-11
NHRA Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, MN Aug. 16-18