Bristol Pontiac Saturday Notes

INAUGURAL WINSTON SHOWDOWN BRISTOL DRAGWAY BRISTOL, TENNESSEE JULY 9, 1999 PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We're in pretty good shape. We came up here with the idea that we would be doing some...



Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We're in pretty good shape. We came up here with the idea that we would be doing some testing at the same time, we've done that and now we have some changes to make on the GM Goodwrench Firebird tomorrow to get back in race mode. We put in an engine this morning that we knew was our best piece, I was putting valve springs on it and found two exhaust seats that are either cracked, or something is wrong with them because it was leaking 15 percent in one cylinder and 20 percent in another. So we never even got to run it. We'll run our backup stuff and with that we can run with anybody out here. Today the track actually got a little bit better than we thought and we weren't quite prepared for it on that last run. We were a little off and that's why it slowed up to a 7.09. The car was actually considerably faster in the backhalf than what we've run all weekend, but we just didn't get the front half right. We know what we did wrong so we'll have it fixed for tomorrow.

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We're struggling just to make a good run right now. We're still working with a brand new car and it's probably one of the best 60-foot cars I've ever had, but we're having trouble getting the car up on the tire in the middle of the track. It runs really good to 60 foot, it's been making perfect graphs after that, and then it runs really slow to the finish line. I don't know if we have a problem with the tune up on the car, or a problem with the engine, or a problem with the chassis, but right now we're just going through every aspect of it to figure out what it might be. Then we have to come up with a combination on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird for tomorrow. It's going to be tough. Kurt's (Johnson) running really good but he's only got three-hundredths on us. I think there's more left than that in our car right now. Our car is really 60-footing good. We're going to run first round in the heat of the day and the track will not be as good as it was today. The track will be a little slicker than what we've seen and what we need to do is figure out how to get from 60 to the 330 and from the 330 to the finish line. Obviously right now we just have the tune up wrong. We went one way tonight and it hurt it, so we're going to go back the other way two steps. Hopefully we'll hit it. We're usually pretty good at doing that in the first round, and I'm pretty confident that tomorrow we'll be able to continue that trend.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) Up to this point, after three qualifying sessions, we just haven't run as well as we should. We're not covering the first part of the racetrack very well and we don't know if we're just missing on the tune up, or the clutch, or if we have a problem with the engine. We've decided for this last shot that we're going to change engines on the Summit Racing Firebird. We're pretty happy with the way Greg (Anderson) ran so we know that horsepower isn't a problem. The gameplan for tonight is to make a good pass and move up in the field. I don't think we're going to stay in where we are now. We're down to No. 5 and that's too close to being completely out of this race. There are a lot of cars that are capable of bumping us out so we definitely have to come out tonight and make a good run. We should be in good shape but you never know. Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) As usual, Winston puts a lot into drag racing. They put that money into the sport every year and they have been for years and years. This is our way of showing them our support. Since I like Winston so much I'm going to do everything I can to see that that $50,000 check goes to either myself or my teammate this weekend, Mark Osborne. I'm happy to see Mark back in Pro Stock and we'd like to see him run it full time again. He's a guy I've always been friends with, and he helped me get the Mama Rosa's deal so I'm letting him use one of our cars this weekend. Of course he's using my second-best motor - I like him but I don't like him that much. I'm just hoping that we can be on opposite sides of the ladder and go a couple of rounds. My Century 21 Firebird isn't running too bad right now. We were both testing some different stuff yesterday. I was doing some things a little more conventional and we ran all right. Not as fast as we would like to go, but all things considered, we were pretty happy with our elapsed time. The stuff we were trying on Mark's Firebird didn't work as well. The transmission broke on the first run, and during the second run he just didn't make a good run. We have it set up back towards normal for today and it should be a little easier. We're just going to try and work on our race day tune up.

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) If we can improve as much in tonight's evening session as we improved in the daytime session, we should be right near the top of the field. I have no reason to think that won't happen. We're basically still tuning the Pennzoil Firebird and now that we have three full runs under our belt, we know exactly what we can and cannot do out there. The left lane is the one that has been producing the quickest times so far and that's where we'll be tonight when the cooler temperatures come into play. This appears to be playing right into our hands. I like to save my best pass for the last one and give whoever I'm racing tomorrow something to think about.

Second Session: We're building momentum every round. We have such a killer baseline on this Firebird now. We're set for battle tomorrow. I wish we could fire it up right now. I'm ready to go. I wish I could open up against someone else but you just can't think about stuff like that when you get on the track. I'm just thinking that we could really use this race as a springboard to success in the second half of the season. If we could get on a roll and win some rounds over the course of the next few races, we could really charge up the points. And you can't overlook what winning here at our home track would mean to all of us on the Pennzoil Pontiac crew. Our family and friends are all here and the fans have been unbelievably nice to us all weekend. I'd love to have a victory party right here with about 50,000 of my closest friends.

Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) This is the first all star-type race that we've qualified for and we're super excited and honored to be here. Maybe we'll have a little beginners luck tomorrow and take home the trophy. At the very least I hope we're working late into the evening. I wish we could have qualified our Valspar Firebird a little higher up the ladder. A lot of guys are running real quick and consistent here this weekend and I'd like to think we're right there with them. We had a near-perfect lap last night, which allowed us to try a brand-new motor today to see what it could do. We were hoping for a big number out of it but we missed it just a little. We're still optimistic that we can go some rounds tomorrow and compete for the title. This car has been very smooth over the last several races and I don't see any reason to think it will act differently tomorrow. We just need a little luck, I need to take care of my driving duties and we should have a good shot at the win.


David Spitzer (Dynagear GMC Sonoma) Today we're going to work on the motor tune up a little bit and try and adjust for the altitude and the heat. We're also playing with the gear ratios again. This is not quite like a Denver situation but it is close. We're just trying to make some runs and learn a little bit more about this Dynagear Sonoma. The goal is to make four runs down the racetrack and win a little cash as well. Conditions probably won't be as bad at Indy as they are here, but it's going to be close. Other than a few test sessions we'll participate in, this will be the last place that we'll get to run the truck under national event conditions with everyone at one spot. It's our last chance to gauge our performance off of everybody else. Since Jeter and Freeman and those guys are here, it gives us a chance to see how what we're changing stacks up against the rest of the field. After this race, we'll take the turck back to the shop, work on the engines, maybe go to one or two test dates and then go to Indy.


Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) I think the JCIT Firebird is going to be just fine for tomorrow. This hot racetrack seems to have thrown everybody for a loop. We tried to run a little quicker than we ran yesterday afternoon and spun the tires out in the middle of the racetrack. I'm sure you'll see Terry (Manzer) and John (Stewart) make a little different move for tomorrow, but no matter what happens, we need to make it down the racetrack tomorrow - at least for the first two runs. After that we can get after it and get mean. We know we can run 4.95 if the conditions are right and I think that's all we'll need to do. Last night we broke a push rod and I had to shut the motor off. There's one area of the racetrack that just won't cooperate with what we're trying to do. We're all trying to go too fast and I think that even the dragsters are having a problem, but the ultimate goal is to make it a fair race. It won't be any fun if it's too lopsided one way or the other. When we ran in the right lane yesterday we went 5.07, and today in the left lane we were just too aggressive. So I don't think that any one lane is better than the other. We've never been too worried about that in the past. We'll just take what they give us and do the best that we can do.

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) The dragsters did us the biggest favor of them all during the last session. By all of the Funny Cars failing to run better and by all of the Dragsters picking up, they just widened the gap for the handicap start. I'm disappointed because we couldn't run quicker, but at the same time I'm pretty happy because we have more of an advantage on race day. More important than anything we accomplished our primary goal and that was putting the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird in the show. The car is very consistent. We tested the track this morning to see what it would and wouldn't take on race day. We got a lot of good information for the first round and that should help us. When we need to we can step on it and we know how far we can go now. We're actually looking pretty good for race day.

Cruz Pedregon ( Pontiac Firebird) After a couple of days with this new program, things are looking okay. We're making runs and every one is a new learning experience for us. We're about as green as green can get as far as getting the Pontiac Firebird from point A to point B. Ron (Swearingen) is learning something new each run and he felt like we could've run a 5.10 or a 5-0 this afternoon, but we dropped a cylinder, so we're looking into the ignition on this thing. It really kind of surprised us. We're going out there tonight, staying on the gas and seeing if we can't step it up. We feel like we're about a run or two away from being where we need to be. We're on course, and we're having a good time, but at the same time, we're serious about winning this race. We're ready to go some rounds let's put it that way. After this race, we'll go home and take delivery of our new transporter. Then we'll race in Seattle, Sonoma, Indy and then Pomona. We'll need that time in between races to get fully prepared. We'd like to go to Denver and Brainerd, but at this time we just don't have the manpower to do it. If we could stay in the top 10 that would be great, but what we're really looking at is the Bog Bud Shoot-out. We've been fortunate enough to win the Labor Day race but the Big Bud has always eluded us.

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We're going to take this Firebird out tonight and leave it just the way it is. Everything looked extremely well in the first session, but I just think the racetrack got us. At least that's what appeared happened. It didn't shake and it didn't leave any marks on the ground, it just went into tire spin. We finally have the engine right for these conditions and we've been trying to find a combination that will make it easier to produce power. We've kind of progressed into a situation where the engine was hurting itself. We can't afford that considering the budget we're on. Today the engine was going like it should, the driveshaft looked good, and the clutch was working okay, but like a lot of people, we just spun the tires. No matter what happens though, this has been a heck of a learning experience. The air is so bad here that this has kind of been a Denver tune up for us. This lets us get used to being halfway to Denver and then next week we'll go all the way to Denver. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow but we're going to give it everything we've got.


Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) I can't complain. Everything seems to be running good on the MBNA/Pontiac dragster. We went out there and ran 4.62 in the last session. I wouldn't mind seeing it rain a little bit so that we could run this whole thing at night. It's cooler, it's easier on the guys and the car seems to like it a lot more. That 2:30 wake up call is going to be a little different tomorrow afternoon. In the heat of the day it's going to be tough. I think we're going in the right direction though. The dragster's running pretty good, the Funny Cars running pretty good and tomorrow should be a lot of fun. Whoever wins this thing is going to need a little luck on their side and have things go their way. If the car goes from A to B that's half the battle.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.