Bristol: Pontiac Racing Friday report

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 27, 2001 - Qualifying for the inaugural Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals got underway today at Bristol Dragway. In Pro Stock Bruce Allen took the top qualifying spot in the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am with an...

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 27, 2001 - Qualifying for the inaugural Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals got underway today at Bristol Dragway. In Pro Stock Bruce Allen took the top qualifying spot in the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am with an elapsed time of 6.934 seconds at 198.47 mph. Warren Johnson is qualified second. The GM Goodwrench Service Plus Grand Am took the No. 2 position with a 6.950 elapsed time at 198.03 mph. Mike Edwards is third in a Cavalier, teammate Ron Krisher is right behind him in the fourth spot, Brad Jeter is fifth in a Grand Am and Jim Yates is sixth in a Grand Am. Kurt Johnson is the No. 6 qualifier in a Cavalier, Greg Anderson is ninth in a Firebird and Richie Stevens Jr. is 10th in a Grand Am.

In Funny Car, Frank Pedregon finished two rounds of time trials qualified in the No. 2 position. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird ran 4.885 seconds at 310.20 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Gray Densham with an elapsed time of 4.870 seconds at 303.71 mph. Tim Wilkerson is third 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.

Television coverage of qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, April 28, beginning at 9:30 Eastern. Final eliminations will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, April 29, starting at 5:30 p.m.


Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am) - "During the first run we were at least able to get through low and second gear, and we were able to come back and adjust our Grand Am off it. We ended up making the right decisions. We were still a little aggressive on that run which gave us a real good E.T. but still real close to not making it, so we need to back off a little bit more. Before the second session we went and looked at the track and the rubber was much firmer. The bald spots had tightened up a lot. We knew the track was going to be as good as it was going to get this weekend so we knew this was the time to get after it. Actually we wanted to be more conservative then we were and that just showed us how aggressive we were in the first run. This is an awesome facility. This is the first time I've been here since it's been redone. The very first Pro Stock race I won was at this race track in 1985. I love it up here. It's nice now. It's better then ever."

"After Las Vegas we worked on our engines real hard. We did some maintenance on the car, broke in some tires and ran in some clutch discs. We were out working hard. The engine runs better then it ever has. It looked like it was that round - it was pretty stout. When you go a couple hundredths faster than second and third qualifiers and them being Warren (Johnson) and Mike Edwards that's a pretty stout run."

"If we could get a little bit of help, or if in the future any of the people we're talking to were to say that they would help us next year, we'd keep going. But if it doesn't look like anything is going to happen it's going to be hard for us. We're just behind the eight ball money wise and now the car is getting fast enough that at the past couple or races we've had a chance to win them. I really hope we don't have to stop, but if we do that's just the way it is, it's not the end of the world."

"We're going to come out tomorrow and take the track temperature and look at the track and make some adjustments. What we've found that's really helped us this year is being on both sides and knowing what's too soft and knowing what's too aggressive. We need to come off the car for the first session tomorrow so we know where to be on race day. We're in better shape then we've been in years. I think our program is rock solid, we're thinking better about making adjustments, and that's all real encouraging so I'm looking forward to a good race here. I don't know if we'll stay low qualifier but I don't think the track will be any better than what it was tonight. I'm optimistic that we're going to be in the show." No. 1 qualifier - 6.934ET/198.47MPH


Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That's a pretty good start. I'm happy with that as a first run, really happy. There will be some serious shuffling going on in the qualifying order tonight, and I'm sure even more teams will figure it out tomorrow, but when you get a good number on the board early you can be a lot more aggressive trying to stay ahead of the shuffling. There's more track out there than we used, and more tune-up we can throw at it. We made some minor changes in the staging lanes, and saw how well Frankie (Pedregon) did so we thought we had our Firebird dialed in pretty well. I guess we were." No. 9 qualifier - 4.931ET/304.12MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Awesome! Dave Fletcher (crew chief) was telling me, and anyone else that would listen, that he was bound and determined to get this Pontiac Firebird down the track with a full pass in this first session. We've qualified very well all year, but we had not yet gotten a good number on the board in the first run at any race! We had our brand spanking new Firebird body on and the aerodynamics on it are great."

Second session: "After Fletch got me down the track with a good number on the first pass there was no doubt in my mind that the CSK Pontiac Firebird would make it end to end on this pass. I knew if it went down there on eight cylinders it would be a stout number. A 4.88 is great - we're proud of what we're doing out here but the 310 mph is kind of neat too. That shows you this new 2001 Firebird body is one bad hombre. This thing is stuck to the track but still slippery down there. It's one impressive racecar." No. 2 qualifier - 4.885ET/310.20MPH

Jerry Toliver (WWF/XFL Pontiac Firebird) - "We've tested so much that we've tested the tires off these Pontiac Firebirds. We're just trying to sneak up on it right now and get them to run consistent numbers. We're not trying to kill the track. The track's not really very good down on the other end and we're spinning the tires. A 4.95 is not where we want to be but we got it down the racetrack and that's what counts. We tested after Houston, after Vegas, from Vegas we went to Atlanta and tested and then we went to Gainesville and tested there, went to Atlanta and then we came here. We've taken every opportunity we could find to test. We found some things that were wrong. This is really our first race back since we began the extensive testing program. I wish we could have run that 4.95 this afternoon because then we could have come back tonight and really gone after it. But, it's better than being outside looking in." No. 11 qualifier - 4.955ET/ 306.74MPH

Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "On our first run, we just wanted to get it down the track. The track was hot and the conditions were not really conducive to try and run 4.80's. We ran 5.01, which was a little softer than what we had hoped for. Tonight, our 4.926 was still a little soft, but Lee Beard, Mike Neff and the entire Matco Tools team are just working on the tune up one run at a time. To go from 5.01 to a 4.92 is a pretty good jump, and I feel very confident that tomorrow, if conditions cooperate, we can step it up and move up from the No. 8 position. I was looking at this facility today and Bristol Dragway might just be my new favorite race track. It's an awesome place." No. 8 qualifier - 4.926ET/304.46MPH

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "We were hoping to run this Pontiac Firebird much faster but we were a little weak with the tune up. The track will have a lot of rubber on it tomorrow so we should be able to run 4.80s. We ran 4.97 right off the trailer and it was weak then. We jumped on the clutch some and barely on the motor and we need a lot more motor. The track came around. It was iffy downcourse at first and now everyone seems to be getting down through there. Richard (Hogan) and the guys will get after it tomorrow and we'll be right there." No. 7 qualifier - 4.923ET/305.01MPH

-Jeff Romack

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Richie Stevens Jr. , Brad Jeter , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Mike Edwards , Mike Neff