Chicago Pontiac Finals Quotes

PONTIAC RACING NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL FRAM ROUTE 66 NATIONALS ROUTE 66 RACEWAY JOLIET, ILL SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 1999 PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "I don't think we have a better handle than our ...



Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "I don't think we have a better handle than our competitors. It's more like we've been lucky today. Under these conditions, the race track is marginal. It's no fault of the track. When you have this much heat and rubber on the surface, you've just got to live with it. There is nothing that NHRA can do to make it better, and there is nothing the racers can do except to stop oiling it down. With the gear ratio we have in the car, there is no reason we should have such excessive wheel speed. We have to back it down far enough that it won't shake the tires - but without a clutch management system like the fuel cars, you can back it down so far that the clutch will run away. It's a matter of flipping a coin." Advanced to the final round

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "I think our problem today was that we were on the tough side of the ladder. We had Warren (Johnson) over there, we had Mike Edwards over there, and we had Mark Pawuk in the first round. We got by two of them, but when we went up against Warren we ran into a brick wall. He's just tremendous out here and it's hard to figure out how you're going to beat him when you lose lane choice and he's three or four hundredths faster than you anyway. I felt like compared to the rest of the field, the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird was running really strong. It's just that Warren is in a league all of his own. We were just happy to stick to our baseline, win rounds of eliminations and put good elapsed times on the board - even in the bad lane. We'll take all the engines home and make sure everything is fine. I felt like we were off on our performance and we don't know if it was the engine or not. We've got to get them on the dyno and find out if that's part of the problem. It's encouraging to see how well the car is running and how consistent it's running. Testing here last week gave us a huge advantage and I think that helped us figure out the racetrack in the heat of the day. We made absolutely beautiful runs and that's all that Firebird had -- we got every inch of performance out of it. We just have to see if there's anything we can do with our tune up to compensate for our performance disadvantage. There are going to be a lot of tracks where the air is like this, and one of our problems is that we have not come up with a combination for the engine that likes this kind of air. It seems the more we tried to work on it, the slower the car went. Compared to Warren we were pretty bad, but compared to everybody else we weren't too bad. That's not a bad place to be. Warren told me at the finish line that it's a matter of perspective. Hopefully we can stay as close to him as we possibly can and maybe we'll get a chance to get around him."

"We had a lot of sponsors out this weekend and it was good to make the race and do as well as we did. Last year we didn't qualify here and that was really a kick in the gut. McDonald's is here, Old World Industries is here and Dynomax is here, so we have a lot of people at this race that we wanted to do well for. We accomplished that this weekend. If we can continue in the top half of the field and go to the semi-finals at every race, then we're going to get in the winner's circle. I feel comfortable with that." Lost in round three

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "We went into the first round with a conservative setup on the Dynomax Firebird because we knew that the track was going to be tricky. Then we had an oil down right in front of us and left at a low rpm. We just didn't have enough clutch in it to compensate for the low rpm we left at, and when I let the clutch out, nothing happened. Then it took forever for the clutch to lock up, and by the time we went by the 60-foot marker, we were five-hundredth's behind. We went through a couple of gears, was three car lengths behind and shut it off. The heat didn't affect us as much as the condition of the racetrack, and consequently that was caused by the heat. We probably just over compensated. For Columbus, we don't really have a lot of time to do anything and you couple that with the fact that the conditions will be different from this place. We're going to deal with it when we get there. I don't think it's going to be too much different than here, but we'll have to dig up some of our old information to see if we can't be somewhat ready. In the grand scheme of things, we're running pretty decent. We've just made a few mistakes along the way and we're just going to see if we can't figure things out a little better." Lost in round one

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We're disappointed because we felt we had a good chance to win this race. The car just didn't want to go anywhere and we're going to tear this Summit Racing Pontiac apart to figure out why. We've got big race coming up next weekend in Columbus that we have to be ready for. We got both Pontiac and Summit as the main sponsors so we've got a little extra motivation to win us a race." Lost in round one

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "Not having lane choice burned us. He definitely got me at the light but I caught him and passed him by the 330-foot mark. Then my car hit that bump out there, got pushed out of the groove a little and it just never hooked back up to the track. It seemed like we swapped the lead 30 times before the finish line. The Pennzoil Firebird ran great and we just missed the one good qualifying session, which ended up costing us lane choice. By the end of the qualifying we were the third quickest car in the field. It was just a matter of bad timing. We'll be back with guns blazing in Columbus." Lost in round one


Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) "I knew we could get this car fixed. It took us four runs to figure it out, and as such we started out the day on the back side of the qualifying ladder. That's okay because so far it's worked out. We're just going to take the JCIT Pontiac Firebird back up there and race the racetrack. If John Force has something for us then so be it. That's why he's the champion. We think we have a shot and we're going to make him beat us. The first run I had to pedal it but he second round was awesome. Terry thought he had it fixed after the first round, and I was getting nervous, but the second run went 4.96 just slicker than anything with no problems whatsoever. That last run went 5.04 but it got out of the groove and it locked the clutch up on me. When it did that, it started spinning the heck out of the tires at the top end. We'll be okay. We're not going to hop it up and we're not going to weaken it up. We're going to run our race and hope for the best. We're just happy to be where we are". Advanced to final round

Randy Anderson (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "I'm disappointed that I couldn't put this car in the winner's circle. Wes Cerny and the Interstate Batteries crew gave me a race car that should have won here today. I just didn't cut the light I should have and that's about all there is to it. There's no excuse. This Firebird was so easy to drive and it was set up just perfectly that it just makes it that much more difficult to take. It was a good weekend for me as a driver, I think I grew up a little bit and I learned a lot as well. I don't think I've ever driven this good of a race car. But like I said, it was a good weekend for me, we went a couple of rounds and I appreciate the opportunity that Joe Gibbs gave me this weekend to drive the car. There were a million guys they could have selected to do the job and they picked me. I appreciate the fact that they had that kind of confidence in my ability." Lost in round three Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "There was a lot of waiting before our run, and by the time we were ready to go it was hard to stay focussed. Every race you want to do well but we especially wanted to perform our best here at our home racetrack in front of our family and friends. With the exception of the first round loss, we're happy with the weekend. The Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird ran well, we didn't tear up a whole lot of stuff and we got to race on Sunday. Last year we weren't as lucky and anything is better than that. It's almost overwhelming knowing that this many people are watching us. Then we come out to the track and we're talking to four or five thousand people a day. They know us and that's a great feeling. We're not going to change anything before Columbus. We have an autograph session at Dave Gill Pontiac on Thursday afternoon and then we're going out to the track to try and win us a race." Lost in round one

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We wanted to go up there and make a good run. We knew we had to run as well as our best qualifying time to win, but for whatever reason, the motor revved up a little bit at 60-foot and it just couldn't stay a hold of the track. We're not blaming the track because there were other people doing just fine in that lane, but it wasn't good for our car for whatever reason. We felt we had a chance to face Force in the second round and we're pretty confident that this Pontiac Firebird was going to give him a run for his money. It just didn't happen the way we would have liked. We'll make sure all of the parts are still good. The car's' been running okay, but when it does that in the first round it can be disappointing. We'll just go to the Pontiac Excitement Nationals and hope for the best". Lost in round one Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "I wasn't really up there trying to strap the world's greatest hole shot on anyone, I just went up there really focused and ready to do my best. (Toliver's Crew Chief) Rob Flynn has really done a great job on that car, I knew I'd have to be sharp up there, and our Firebird would need to go down the track for us to have a good chance. We stepped it up a little bit, and it still didn't run as well as the 5.10 we used to get qualified, but the air and the track temperature now are nothing like when we ran the 5.10. We're getting our consistency back right now, and that's about our number 1 priority. It's real hard to win races when you don't get the car to go from A to B."

Second round: "It stinks that we lost, but let me tell you something, we found our power again on that run. We picked it back up and I think we were pulling away from him until it ran into tire spin out there at the top end. The tire spin was a surprise, because we hadn't been running fast enough this weekend to spin them out there. We had the clutch figured out for the first part of the track, we haven't so much as hazed them all weekend. We've been tinkering with this Firebird, one thing at a time, all weekend. This time, we hit the combination right and learned a ton. Now we just have to adjust the clutch back to handle the power we're making at the top end and we'll be in business. That run was as quick as any 4.97 I've run, until it broke loose out there. I hate losing, but if I have to lose a race, I'd like it to be after round one, I'd want to learn what we did and feel pumped up about what we did. That's the way I feel right now." "I can't wait to run it again." k

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Mike Edwards