COMMERCE, Ga. (May 7, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals were held today at Atlanta Dragway. PRO STOCK Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We knew we were going to have to run...
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 7, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals were held today at Atlanta Dragway.
Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We knew we were going to have to run good to beat him (Jeg Coughlin). We changed some things on the Reher-Morrison Firebird and that's what it's all about. You have to try and learn even if you don't win a round. You have to constantly be preparing for the next time you're in that position. He's the baddest guy, he's out there flying down the track on every run and he's tough to beat. You're not going to beat him going out there running slow, but nonetheless this Firebird ran awesome. We had a good weekend, we're happy and this is the best that we've done in a long time."
How disappointed are you? "Not too much. Sure we wanted to win here today, but we won a couple of rounds there that maybe we shouldn't have. We got lucky a little bit against Martino, and Krisher got out of shape, and in the first round I was late against Terry Adams and we won that round by nine thousandths. In this sport you're going to win some that you shouldn't and lose some that you should probably win. It all seems to even out in the long run. There is absolutely nothing bad about this weekend, nothing at all. We may have been a little off in the final but we're not as fast as he is. As close as Pro Stock is and as close as qualifying is, he still has the best car on race day. He still goes out there and runs about what he qualifies. We're working to get faster and if we keep making progress we'll be fast enough to win some of these races. We've had some rounds this year where we got beat by three or four thousandths of a second and today we won a couple of rounds that way."
How will you prepare for Englishtown? We'll have Jeg in the Shootout so we had better be ready. We'll go home and try to work on some things that we're hoping to make our car better on raceday. We'll work on the motors and two weeks from now we'll be back ready to go.
Do you like the progress you've made this season? "I felt like we were going to be good this year, but I thought we would do a little bit better actually than what we've been doing. Most of our races have been so close where they could have gone either way. By winning a couple of more rounds we'd be having a better season than we expected. I haven't driven all that good and maybe we've missed on a couple of opportunities to win rounds. You always say what goes around comes around and I kind of feel like it does. There are a lot of rounds left to race this year, and at this point of the season we're battling with a lot of cars right there in the middle of the pack. We can make a nice move in the next couple of races if we do all the right things."
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I thought we were real strong after the first round. I was really impressed with the run the Splitfire Pontiac Firebird made - I mean it was a darn near perfect run. It went a 6.96 and I thought we were in pretty good shape for the second round. The clutch was a little aggressive, it pulled the motor back, and got on the tire a little too hard, but I was late on the tree, Tommy (Martino) got out in front of me and I couldn't get around him. The crew has been working great and the car's running well, it just makes you mad when you don't do your job as a driver on the starting line. We had an opportunity today, but Tommy's a pretty good driver -- he makes his living cutting good lights. We've been on a roll the last couple of weeks, but it just proves that you can't let your guard down for one lap because it will come up and bite you. We're going to do a little testing before Englishtown. We have some clutches to break in, some tires to break in and some other stuff that we need to get ready. We have that shootout coming up, so we want to be ready for that, and we'll have a Friday night qualifying session so it's going to be fast again. We'll have to be on our toes from the minute we get to New Jersey if we expect to do well. We get a lot of fans up that way because it's only a couple of hours from the house, so we get a lot of people coming up from Maryland and Virginia who have been going up there for years. We need to get our homework done. Bob (Ingles) has a lot of customers that come down to that race. He'll take the motors home, make sure everything is good, give it a clean bill of health and then we'll head out to test for a day at Bud's Creek or another local track. I think we'll be in pretty good shape. The car's are running really well. I'm really impressed with the numbers my Firebird put up this morning and I think when we get to New Jersey we'll be fine. I think we have a lot of consistency, and I'm beginning to love this car. I'm getting better with it every race we go to. I can change something a little bit and tell if it works right away. We're moving the program forward every week and what we came up with and ran today was a good combination for this car. I believe that when we get to the hotter tracks this is going to be a good racecar. It made a perfect looking run in the first round. I have a car now that I've been striving to get, not so much a fast car, but a consistent car and a car that will run good on a bad racetrack."
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "The way we have our car set-up this weekend, I couldn't do anything with the tree. We knew we had the wrong clutch set-up for a good reaction time, but since we were getting away with it with good elapsed times, we thought we'd stick with it. In the round before against Yates, I had a .480 light, and that was all I could do. For the run against Bruce (Allen), we took a little clutch out if it and I slowed down to a .490. Bruce had a hard time getting down the right lane, and I had lane choice and outran him, but it wasn't enough. The final margin of victory was only five thousandths, so if I had made just a little better run, we would have won. We're going to do some testing before Englishtown and get that clutch set-up out of there. It's just not something we can run in the summer. After the first round, we changed the car drastically and it paid off. We moved the suspension, switched gear ratios and clutch packs and the weight. That 7 flat we ran in the bad lane against Yates was awesome. We left it alone for the semis, thinking we'd go 6.98. It was on its way - at the 330-foot mark we were two hundredths faster that the previous run. Unfortunately, we ran into something on the track, which I suspect was clutch dust from the fuel cars, which took us out of the groove. I'm not using that as an excuse, because I'm sure Bruce had to run through it on his side. It's just something to consider. Even so, this was still a great weekend for the Century 21 Pro Stock Firebird Racing Team. Anytime you can reach the semi-finals, you've had a good day."
Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) -- "I couldn't do much in that lane. Jeggy would have been tough anywhere but the few pros that did win in the right lane had a bunch of luck on their side. We stayed with him as long as possible but the car got loose at the other end and Jeggy was so far ahead that I just lifted. I knew I wouldn't catch him and there was no point in jacking up the car. There's not much to be excited about at this race. We did keep our streak of consecutive races alive (at 27) and we locked up a spot in the Holley Dominator Duel so there were a few bright spots. But every member of this team will tell you they wanted more out of this race. We reached the finals last year and we wanted to go one more round this time. It just wasn't meant to be. Don's (Beverly) got that car completely dialed in now and it's time for us to make the switch over. It's a newer car and Don was working out the 'new car' problems you usually have for us. It looks as though it's ready for action now. I think the more aerodynamic design will like this Warren Johnson horsepower we're using a little better than the old car. I hope it takes us to the next level. We slipped in the points but not by much. Now we really have our work cut out for us at the next race in Englishtown, N.J. We won that event last year so I need to defend my title for the team and for Valspar."
Jim Dunn (CAR OWNER: Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We were pretty much playing catch up all weekend. We got behind and never got caught up. We knew we couldn't beat Toliver with a 5.05, so we stepped on it trying to get this Mooneyes Firebird to go a 4.90 and just didn't get it done. The five-disc clutch is throwing us a curve - we just haven't got hold of it yet. We think we know what to do now for Englishtown. Every time you make a mistake you should learn by it and this was a pretty good mistake we made. When you get behind as bad as we were - I mean we weren't qualified going into the fourth round and had to run a five-oh to get in the show. We had to soften it up so that we wouldn't smoke the tires and not qualify. Trying to run a 4.95 today we blew the tires off. What happened was that we put the five disc in, it worked good, then we changed the motor, and the motor is happier. That gives it more clutch and now we have to soften that up to work with the motor. Step one, step two, step one step two - right now we're out of step. At Englishtown we'll be fine."
Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California Pontiac Firebird) - "It wasn't too bad of a weekend considering some of the problems we had earlier in the week. We were a little disappointed about first round, but Dean (Skuza) was No. 1 qualifier and we had to stand on it hard. Unfortunately we smoked tires before he did, but we'll have a couple of weeks to regroup, get our act back together again and restock the trailer with what we need to have. I think we'll be ready to go at Englishtown. We had some problems with the right lane, but that's no excuse. There were some pretty good runs down that lane.
We ran identical numbers on both sides and looking back on it, maybe we shouldn't have tried standing on it so hard. You have to learn - these guys are playing hardball out here. We're looking forward to Englishtown but we're also looking forward to a week where we can get our NEC Pontiac Firebird program back on track."
Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We made a decision before the round to play it a little safe. Our car had been edgy all weekend, and we didn't want to smoke the tires and have no chance. I'm over that stuff. We know we have to make it to the end to win. Then, we sat there and watched Skuza, Densham and Hofmann smoke the tires in front of us. We knew the air had changed a lot but it would have been a risk to hop it up right in the staging lanes. We figured we had the best chance by getting it to the other end. It put a cylinder out basically at the hit of the throttle and just didn't have enough to stay with him. Right now we're snake bit. If we get aggressive, we smoke the tires. We play it safe and put a cylinder out."
Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Dave Fletcher put a perfect car under me. It was a perfect run. The driver lost the race, period! I wish I could explain it, and I wish I could go back and get to do it over, but I just messed up - that's all there is to it. It's a heartbraker when the team gets it right, and we get nothing for it. We haven't really gotten too many brakes around here, considering how well the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird has been running, and I know that as the season goes on we'll get lucky at some point. It's just really frustrating."