Bristol: Allen's Grand Am No. 1 qualifier

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 28, 2001 - Qualifying was completed today for the Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. For the second time this year Bruce Allen captured the No. 1 qualifying spot heading into race day. The ...

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 28, 2001 - Qualifying was completed today for the Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. For the second time this year Bruce Allen captured the No. 1 qualifying spot heading into race day. The Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am took the top spot with an elapsed time of 6.934 seconds at 198.47 mph. Warren Johnson ended time trials qualified in the No. 2 position. The GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am took the second starting spot with a run of 6.950 seconds at 198.03 mph. Mike Edwards is third in a Cavalier, Ron Krisher is fourth in a Cavalier and Brad Jeter is fifth in a Grand Am.

In Funny Car, Frank Pedregon's CSK Firebird is the highest qualified Pontiac in the No. 2 starting spot with an elapsed time of 4.885 seconds at 310.20 mph. Gary Densham's 4.870 elapsed time at 303.71 mph gives him the No. 1 qualifying position. Tim Wilkerson is No. 3 in a Firebird, John Force is fourth and Tony Bartone is fifth in a Firebird with a career-best elapsed time of 4.904 seconds at 304.74 mph.


Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am) - "If nothing else, being No. 1 qualifier gives us the best starting position. The bonus money from Winston is certainly nice and the top spot gives us the confidence that we can run good - it makes people notice that you're out there. The 16th qualifier isn't an easy car to beat, but if you're lucky enough to win that round then you have the winner of eight and nine. The conditions were so different today from yesterday that we never caught up. But that's part of it, you only have to make one good run to make the show. The first run today we were a little too soft and got out of the groove. This afternoon we were too aggressive. We wanted to be on both sides - where we were both heavy and light on the clutch and we were able to do that. We'll try to find a happy medium for tomorrow. It doesn't make any difference who you race first round. Hopefully when you pull up there you've prepare your car the best that it can be prepared for the given racetrack. That's your goal but it's going to be tough. It'll be a battle tomorrow. I don't know which lane is the better of the two. At this point I don't think there's much difference. But from a crew chief/driver standpoint you still want to have lane choice because it gives you a good mental edge. All year this Pontiac Grand Am has been a good racecar. We've stumbled a couple of times, but for the most part we've been consistent, and when we've gotten down track we've been fast. The conditions will stay similar to what they were today. If there are no major oildowns then the track should stay pretty good. Those nets on the tailpipes of the Fuel cars have helped the Pro Stock cars. They keep the clutch dust off the track and it's been a huge improvement." No. 1 qualifier - 6.934ET/198.47MPH

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "With the way conditions have changed, the one variable that everyone will have to work with out here is the racetrack. If we can find the right combination that will get us down the track tomorrow then we'll be in good shape. We feel like we have a pretty good idea on the direction in which we need to go, but we won't know for certain until we actually race." No. 2 qualifier - 6.950ET/198.03MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am) - "We haven't made a good run all weekend. We were on a halfway decent run last night but hurt our engine. When I heard what the elapsed time was it just didn't sound right. When we got back to the pits we discovered what the problem was. Today the track has changed considerably and we missed the tune up. We're making some radical changes this afternoon, and if it doesn't go down through there, we'll be underneath the car tonight trying to figure out what it wants for tomorrow. It's been a good racecar for us even as bad as that last run was. I shook all the way into fifth gear and it still went down the racetrack. Conditions will probably be worse tomorrow so we'll work on getting down the track tonight and try to tune for tomorrow. We tested our new Grand Am last week at Atlanta and the session went very well. The car went nice and straight, ran a 6.87 and with the motor we had in it we were very pleased with the results. We're not quite ready to bring it out yet because this Bickel car has been great, but it looks like we have another good racecar. I'm real pleased with both of our new Grand Ams. Both chassis builders have done a great job. We'll just keep tweaking on them and try to find a combination that hopefully will keep us in the top five." No. 12 qualifier - 6.985ET/196.93 MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "Basically we're trying to tune up for the track conditions that we'll see tomorrow. Today was a 180-degree turn from last night and what the track was like this morning. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am was the fastest car down the right lane this morning so we know exactly where we need to go. The new motor that we put in ran really, really, well. We get over in the left lane tonight and hopefully we can make a little better run. I don't know if we can step up but most importantly, we need to see where we stand against the rest of the pack and come up with a combination that will run good on a hot track like we'll see tomorrow. Being the fastest car down the right lane tells me that the new motor is pretty good. We left a lot on the table, but that was because the right lane just wasn't where it needed to be. Going over in the left lane will give us a good indication of what the motor has. What we're trying to do now is come up with a gear ratio and clutch combination that will work for us tomorrow. Bob (Ingles) ran the new motor on the dyno yesterday and it was 10 horsepower better than what we had before. He was very, very confident that this was the way to go. Usually we don't change horses in mid stream, especially when the horse we have ran as good as it did (No. 1 qualifier in Las Vegas), but we think if we can get this power to the ground this Grand Am will be tough to beat." No. 6 qualifier - 6.956ET/197.42MPH


Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "The Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird is running great and it's not breaking anything on the runs. But after all three qualifying passes we've come back here and found the rear main bearings blackened. That's an oiling problem. Somehow we're not getting enough lubrication back to the rear main and it heats up and blackens. When that happens, the crank has to come out at the very least. We need to take our time and figure this thing out for tomorrow. With the quick sessions we run we don't have time to take the motor apart and carefully analyze everything. We can do that tonight and have a plan for tomorrow." No. 2 qualifier - 4.885ET/310.20MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm very glad we made it end to end in the heat. That's what you'll have to do tomorrow. You can't be too greedy out here, but there is room to do more than we just did. We just didn't want o get over center on the last pass and not have a solid baseline for tomorrow. Now we've got a very good baseline and I'm looking forward to a great raceday here tomorrow." No. 9 qualifier - 4.931ET/304.12MPH

Tony Bartone (Wrestlemania Pontiac Firebird) - "Our success this weekend can be attributed to the crew and the tune up on the Wrestlemania Pontiac Firebird. We've struggled a little this year so we've done a lot of testing and the car's beginning to come around. Up until the last qualifying round when I took out a couple of cones I felt like we'd been having a pretty good weekend. I feel that we have a good shot tomorrow and the crew will have this car ready to go. The car went left right away off the starting line and I was a couple of three feet off the centerline for quite a long ways. On the transition from the concrete to the asphalt the car made a hard move and the next thing I knew I was on the centerline and the cones were flying." No. 5 qualifier - 4.904ET/304.74MPH

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "I felt good heading into that last run. The run before we were on an awesome run to halftrack, but were a little aggressive coming off the pad so we just detuned it a little bit and that 'ol Firebird went on down through there. If we can run like that in the heat then we should be able to run a little better first session and then hopefully go some rounds. We're running real well. I just wish we would've had this tune up in it last night because the numbers to halftrack tell us that we could've run a 4.83 or 4.84. We just didn't have enough power. We fixed that and now the car's doing exactly what Richard's (Hogan) asked it to do. I'm pumped. I'd rate our season to this point a B-plus. With a little luck we could've had three wins instead of just the one, but now we're getting into that time of year that separates the men from the boys - the greasy, hot racetracks where Richard (Hogan) and Alan (Johnson) shine. I'm hoping that gives us a little bit of an edge." No. 7 qualifier - 4.923ET/305.01MPH

Tim Wilkerson (Levi Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird) - "We're losing a lot of traction when it goes one to one but I think it's that right lane more than it is our setup. We lined it up on the computer to our first run from yesterday and it looks just like it. We're debating whether or not to make this last run although we used the five-disc clutch for the first time in that last session. To have our Pontiac Firebird the third fastest car of the session, I'm pretty happy. We're qualified third and we were the third fastest car on that lap, that's pretty good. Plus, it was real weak. I spent a tremendous amount of time over the winter massaging clutch parts. I bought a whole bunch of stuff from Force and another team, and I have all my stuff in a nice pretty pile trying to figure out what to run each time out. I'm very happy with our performance so far. Fred Mandoline's come on board and been a big help, and the whole team, they're the same guys who have been with me since my Alcohol days. I think we all just get along so well together that it makes for a good atmosphere to work in. You can't understand how important that is. We're all here for the same reason and that's to upset the apple cart. Prudhomme was telling me what a good job we did at Gainesville and I told him we were kind of like the Indians. If you're a cowboy and you stop to water your horse at the wrong place at the wrong time, we're going to scalp you." No. 3 qualifier - 4.903ET/307.72MPH

Jim Dunn (Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We're not breaking anything, but we can't get the clutch management and the fuel system to work right. That time we thought the Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird was going to run good, but we blew the tires off. For the next round we're going to take a little more mag out of it and slow the clutch down. We should run about a 4.96. The heat got to the racetrack, and the left side, we always stop to watch, four cars smoked the tires at the same place that we did. That tells me that the track has a slick spot in that area. The right side, we think it's a little better out there at 300 feet. We have a five-flat so we have to try and improve on that. This is an eighth mile track all year until they have this meet so that's just like having a brand new track down there. They have 700 feet of cement that usually holds pretty good, but when you come off the cement there's no rubber down there. But that's the way it is. Everyone has to deal with it. We went back to a summer tune up after our first run. We didn't feel it would hold this clutch so we took it apart, put it on our summer deal, but we missed on that. Now we're going back the other way with it." No. 16 qualifier - 5.008ET/294.75MPH

-Jeff Romack

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Mike Edwards