Atlanta Pontiac Racing Review

19th ANNUAL ADVANCE AUTO PARTS SOUTHERN NATIONALS ATLANTA DRAGWAY COMMERCE, GEORGIA SUNDAY, MAY 16, 1999 PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) I think we're down a thousandth of a second right now. If we had run a couple of a ...


PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) I think we're down a thousandth of a second right now. If we had run a couple of a thousandths faster we would have qualified third and been on the other side of the ladder. Then we wouldn't have run Warren (Johnson) until the final. He's running awful good right now and you compound that by losing lane choice with the difference in lanes being about three to four hundredths difference. We tried something different on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird to get down that lane and it didn't help us. We slowed down quite a bit, and Warren just went down the right lane and made a good run. He's probably got a two to three hundredths advantage in performance, and when you couple that with the advantage of running in that lane then, he's six to seven hundredths ahead of us. That's hard to make up. We tried to get a little bit on the Christmas tree and actually got a couple hundredths, but that's all there was. He has such a fast car right now that he could let everybody get a head start and then just run them down.

Our combination doesn't seem to be working as well on a hot slippery track like it always has. In the past, we've really had a good car that was dominant when the tracks got bad, and we're not doing too bad compared to everybody else. But compared to Warren he's got a sizeable advantage on us. Hopefully in Englishtown it will be a little cooler because we know the track will be better. We still have a ways to go. We'll have a brand new Firebird that we're picking up the day after Englishtown, we have some new motor stuff going on and hopefully we can close some of that three hundredths gap that he's got. If we don't, it's going to be long season. Winning a race would be a tremendous boost. We know we've got the capability and we know that we can compete with anyone out here. The best thing about this weekend is that we moved back into third place in the points standings behind Kurt (Johnson) and Warren. With Kurt going out we closed the gap a little with them, but we want to get back to winning races. We have to better than all of the other cars out there, it's just not Warren and Kurt. There area lot of good cars out there right now and a lot of parity. Lost in round three

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) All in all, it wasn't a bad weekend, but we need to win more rounds on Sunday to get back into the points chase. We had some gremlins we were fighting and we missed two runs. Yesterday we were on a halfway decent run in the afternoon, but it wouldn't have been good enough to move us up in the field. The bottom line is that we didn't make a good enough run on Friday night. When you're right in the middle of the pack, it's tough to grab lane choice in the second round of eliminations when you're facing the No. 1 qualifier. We were fourth fastest car in that first round, and the Summit Racing Firebird made a decent run, there was a little room left for improvement, but it was probably the best run we've made since we've been here. That shows me that we should have been in the top four or five cars all weekend. Unfortunately, this track has been a problem for a few years. That bad bump has been in that left lane and it doesn't seem to matter. No one wants to do anything about it. It's just my opinion that the racers spend a lot of time and money preparing to give the fans a good show, and this is the second race in a row that we've competed on a one lane racetrack. I think more attention needs to be paid to the quality of the racetrack, the smoothness of the surface and pre-race preparation. Lost in round two

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) It's extremely tough to lose any race, but to lose like we did when we had the equipment to be competitive makes it even more disappointing. Bob (Cave) and everyone on this race team did a great job preparing the Dynomax Firebird for this weekend's race. We made a lot of big moves in qualifying that indicate to us that we can run with the quickest cars under any condition. That's encouraging, especially when you consider that we have some of the hottest months of the year coming up, and the track and weather conditions will continue to be tricky. We'll regroup, go to Englishtown and see if we can't get our first win there. Lost in round one

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) Like just about everybody else in that lane we just blew the tires right off. That thing spun up immediately. It felt like I never had any traction at all. That proves the advantage of lane choice. Your No. 1 goal at every race is to get in the field. A real close No. 2 goal is to be in the top-half of the field so that you can have lane choice. Especially at tracks like this where one lane is so much better than the other. Overall, this weekend was much more positive for us than the past few races. It feels like we made a lot of progress and that we're on the way to turning this thing around. I'm encouraged by the way the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird ran and the way the engines performed. I'm starting to think we're not too far away from having a car that can be in the top half of the field at every race. Then we can start to work on goal No. 3 which involves getting a trophy at the end of the day. Lost in round one FUNNY CAR Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) We had a decent weekend, we qualified second and we raced a couple of rounds. Unfortunately, the Interstate Batteries Firebird slowed down and we were defeated. It's frustrating because everyone's working hard and we want to win a race. This drag racing is tough and a second round defeat is not what we wanted when we arrive here. Unlike NASCAR when you can run 20th the entire race and go to the finish, this sport can be over in less than five seconds. We'll continue to work and get better and hopefully we can turn this thing around in Englishtown. Lost in round two.

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) We were happy to make it past first round especially when you consider how good of an opponent Al Hofmann is. I knew he would try to drill me on the tree, but we left together and I never saw him. I knew he was close because the time tickets indicate that it was close, but again, I never saw him. When I couldn't see him, I stayed in the gas until the very end because I knew we had a great opportunity to put this Mad magazine Firebird in the second round. We have lane choice in round two but that means more in our head than anything else. The car felt like it was spinning the tires, but it was still moving, and it wasn't smoking the tires so I knew we were going to be okay. We started hazing them at about half track, and then it recovered a little bit and then it started spinning them again. On race day you have no choice but to stay on the gas all the way to the finish line. Lost in round two

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) I kind of thought we had an advantage there in the first round, even though they qualified higher and had lane choice. We made progress, and improved on each qualifying pass over the one before it this weekend. They were baby steps at times, but we never went too far on any pass. We eased up on finding what each lane would hold. A bunch of teams qualified ahead of us off one good pass. I though we learned more than some of them probably did. We've got some guy named Force in round two. I don't know what to say about him, other than we would sure like our Pontiac Firebird to beat that Mustang. Lost in round two

TOP FUEL Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) When we got here this morning we had some problems with one of the heads, and we had to pull it off and change a head, a rod and a piston just 45 minutes before the first round. After the burnout, I started backing up and thought I saw some fuel, but it wasn't fuel, it was oil. The oil line that goes to the pressure side of the gauge came off and started spitting out oil. When you have almost 200 pounds of pressure in there, it can spit a lot of oil out pretty quick. It's a safety factor - you don't want to get out there in your own oil and do something stupid and maybe hurt somebody. So we shut it off because we wanted to be smart about it, but it definitely hurt us points wise. Some of our early numbers here were showing us that the car wants to run some big numbers. We had to back it off because the other half of the track couldn't take it. I think we'll be able to go back to the way we had the car at the beginning of this race, make at least one run and get a handle on the situation. I expect big things out of this MBNA/Pontiac Top Fuel dragster and I'm confident that we'll get back on track at Englishtown. Lost in round one

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , George Marnell