Atlanta: Mark Pawuk eliminations summary

Better, but still not perfect! Pawuk's Pontiac picks up the pace in Atlanta RICHFIELD, OH 5/6/02 The Summit Racing Equipment Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway continued to demonstrate how close the competition is in Pro Stock...

Better, but still not perfect! Pawuk's Pontiac picks up the pace in Atlanta

RICHFIELD, OH 5/6/02 The Summit Racing Equipment Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway continued to demonstrate how close the competition is in Pro Stock along the NHRA POWERade Series trail.

After two straight DNQs Pawuk drove his Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am to the 15th spot in the field, but as he said, "You can't win it if you're not in it! Maybe getting just three qualifying runs instead of four is the answer," he joked after Friday's first session was rained out.

As things turned out Pawuk only managed two full runs, as the third was aborted due to a variation in the lanes, which was graphically indicated when the wheelie bars hit hard enough on the launch to cause the car to go into a violent shake. "I thought we'd broken the rearend or something like that," Pawuk said afterward. "We'd changed the wheelie bar setup and were about a quarter inch off, but with the lanes being a little different, that's all it took.

"I think we would have moved up on the list if we'd've gotten that run in, but there's nothing that can be done about it now. I'm just glad we made the show, and while I'm disappointed in our results, I'm still encouraged by how we ran in the first round."

Pawuk had a better Reaction Time than first round opponent Warren Johnson, but as luck would have it, Johnson ran Low E.T. and Top speed of the Meet against the Summit Racing Pontiac, ending Pawuk's day.

"There's not much to say about what happened against Warren," Pawuk said. "We needed him to run his second round time against us in the first!" Pawuk's first round elapsed time was 6.873 seconds, while Johnson ran a 6.811. In the second The Professor ran a losing 6.878, a time that would have advanced Pawuk withhis holeshot had it come against him in that first stanza.

"Sometimes I wonder if the fans realize how tough this class is," Pawuk said the morning after the race. "Three of the drivers in the Top 10 didn't make the show this past weekend. Mike Edwards, who won the last time out, wasn't even close this week. I don't think anyone can look at Pro Stock and pick out one single reason why everyone's running so much harder this year than they were in 2001, but for whatever reason, the level of competition's much higher.

"We're continuing to make progress, but we're obviously not where we want to be, so we've just got to keep on working as hard as we can. As most people know, we were forced to make some personnel changes in our engine shop late last year, and we're still trying to find the right replacements. There are plenty of people out there who are supposed to be able to do the work, but separating the pretenders from the 'real deal' guys isn't easy, so our search goes on.

"Ya know, my Summit teammates had a heck of a weekend, and I'm proud to be a part of it. Here at Atlanta Dan Fletcher won Stock and was runner-up in Super Stock, while Mark Horton won Super Gas. Carl Baker also won at the IHRA race in Shreveport, and I just wish I could have made it a Pro Stock double for Summit."

Results:

Qualifying:
Session #1 - - 6.932/198.26 #11 (6.976 Bump)
Session #2 - - 6.887/199.40 #11 (6.928 Bump)
Session #3 - - No time, tire shake

Eliminations:
Round #1 .451 R.T. 6.873/200.74 lost to Warren Johnson .473 R.T. 6.811/202.61

Next: Matco Tools Spring Super Nationals, Englishtown, New Jersey, May 17-19

-pr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Mark Horton , Dan Fletcher