Chicago Pontiac Racing Friday Notes

NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL FRAM ROUTE 66 NATIONALS ROUTE 66 RACEWAY JOLIET, Ill. (June 4, 1999) Qualifying got under way for the Second annual Fram Route 66 Nationals. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 2 position with an...


JOLIET, Ill. (June 4, 1999) Qualifying got under way for the Second annual Fram Route 66 Nationals. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 6.964 seconds at 198.70 mph. Jim Yates is qualified sixth, Mark Pawuk is 11th, Mike Thomas is 14th, Richie Stevens is 15th, Steve Schmidt is 17th, Tom Martino is 18th and Bruce Allen is 19th. The No. 1 qualifier is Kurt Johnson in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 6.955 seconds at 197.94 mph.

In Funny Car, Al Hofmann is qualified sixth, Randy Anderson is seventh, Dale Creasy Jr., is 10th, Del Worsham is 12th and Tim Wilkerson is 19th. The No. 1 qualifier is John Force with an elapsed time of 4.856 seconds at 313.44 mph.

In Top Fuel, MBNA/Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is qualified 10th with an elapsed time of 4.633 seconds at 313.73 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Doug Kalitta with a run of 4.543 seconds at 313.73 mph.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) It wasn't an ideal run, but it was better than most! We'll take it. We had several new things we were trying, and we know there are some areas we can work on now. We've got a place to start refining the setup. The car went as straight as a string, which is one of the things we were focussing on. I really don't see anything major we need to address. We'll use a fine file to work on the car instead of the coarse one. No. 2 qualifier - 6.964ET/198.70MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) That run felt so much better than the time showed. I would have bet it was at least a 6.98-second run. I was surprised when they radioed the real time down to me. I suspect a slight power problem with this motor so we're going to switch to a new one so that we'll be ready for tomorrow. I don't want to take any more chances with this one. No. 14 qualifier - 7.024ET/196.36MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) The car got very loose and neared the wall. Plus the shift light wasn't working and I pulled a few gears sooner than I should have. Still we ran a pretty good lap and we got much closer to where we need to be. I very optimistic that we can have the car ready for Round 3 in the morning and I expect us to jump into the field. No. 19 qualifier - 7.046ET/195.96MPH Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) Something big broke in the motor. It knocked half of its rocker arms off the cylinder heads and we're not really sure why. We had a total loss of power at the end of that run, which is kind of strange considering how well this Firebird is running. I do know we need a new motor and we're definitely in for a long night as we switch everything out to get ready for tomorrow. I definitely need to move up in the field. No. 15 qualifier - 7.026ET/195.68MPH


Randy Anderson (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) I'm very excited to be out here racing with this team. This weekend is a great opportunity for me to learn and drive the fastest car out here. I'm a little rusty and probably not doing as good a job driving as I feel I should be doing, but it's just a matter of getting comfortable and that will come with a couple of more runs. Tomorrow I'll do a better job. On the first pass, Wes (Cerny) wanted me to drive it to the first light, but I shut it off a little earlier than I should have. The last run felt pretty decent. It pulled through the lights and went 306 mph. This Interstate Batteries team is a great team, the guys are doing a great job and I'm just looking to do the best I can. I'm having a lot of fun driving this Firebird, and although I realize what a great opportunity this is, I also know what is expected and know what I have to do. That's what I'm trying to focus on. No. 7 qualifier - 5.028ET/306.53MPH

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) We were pretty happy with the Mad Magazine Firebird in that first session. We weren't trying to murder the racetrack this time. We were just trying to get down it. It left and shuttered real hard, and I thought that it was going to spin the tires, so I gave the wheel a little tug and it started dancing. I knew then it was okay, but when I got past the bleachers the wind took me over, and I thought that I might be in trouble. I jerked it back and it went straight down the racetrack. At no time during the run did I consider lifting. It kept pushing towards the center, and if it hadn't come back after I jerked the wheel then I would have. Right out of the box I'm happy with the run. We had such a hard time here last year and today's first run is a tenth-and-a-half better than last year, so we're getting there. We have a lot of people in our camp this weekend. It's sort of like having reinforcements. This is our hometown racetrack so we have plenty of help.

Second Session: We were on a good run but it started getting loose on the other end. Sometimes the car will spin the tires on these newer racetracks and I didn't think anything of it so I just drove it through the lights. I hit the parachutes, looked down and we were on fire. We took the Mad Magazine Firebird back to the pits, looked at the motor and there were no rods out of it. I think we burned a piston, it pushed the end rail gaskets out and it just lit up. It wasn't as bad as it looked because as soon as I hit the fire bottles it went out. That's my first fire and it looks like I did the right thing this time. We don't see any holes in the motor so that's a good sign. If it didn't hurt the crankshaft, we'll be ready for tomorrow. We probably won't run the first session, we might be ready for the second session, but we're hoping that 5.07 will be good enough to stay in. I'm just happy to get down this racetrack. We had a lot of trouble here last year and had a lot of little things going wrong. This is our hometown crowd and we let them in the pit area. Our friends and family come here to see us race. They sacrifice a lot during the season so that we can do what we love so we're going to give them every opportunity to get in there and see what they can see.

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) That was a nice run, everything went along just fine and we didn't chew the motor up. That's about what we were hunting for. A five-flat was what we were looking for. We've been working on this combination for some time and it's not as fast early as we would like it to be, but the important thing is that it's not smoking the tires at 1.2 seconds. This Firebird just motors through there. After today's first session, we have three free runs to get ready for Sunday. It's going to be a low bump here and I probably wouldn't be going out on a limb to say that it's going to be a 5.05. The conditions seem to be pretty good, but if the sun comes out tomorrow all bets are off. If it stays like this then anything can happen. I don't see any problem stepping up and running somewhere between a 4.95 and a five-flat next time. If everything really works out maybe a touch better. If it runs 4-anything next run we'll call it a victory and go on to the next session. Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We've been blowing up a lot of stuff lately, and the key for us was to start nice and easy and get a lap in the book. I wanted it to be a solid conservative lap, and we could step up from there. I guess hindsight is 20/20, because now I wish we'd have put a little more in it. It needs more power, but after knocking the blower off it the last two races we weren't ready to go out there really aggressively. It's a start, I guess. This track is pretty good right now, it will hold a lot. We'll turn the dial up a notch or two and try to keep moving up the board.

Second Session: We were side by side (with Dale Creasy Jr.) the whole way, and I saw his Firebird light up as we crossed the finish line. There's a bit of a head wind out there, and with the 'chutes out we stop in a hurry, so it wasn't hard to bring my car to a quick stop and get out. The Safety Safari was right on the scene, but I wanted to help "Peanut" (Dale Creasy Jr.) if I had to. He was fine, but I was glad to be there. I've been through enough of those things to know real well what he was involved in. It actually didn't look that bad considering how big those things can be, but none of them are fun and all of them are expensive. All of us drivers are really good at talking about our plans and making predictions about how we're going to run. For once, I got it right. I said we were coming in here kind of conservatively, and just wanted to keep the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird in one piece for a few runs and improve each time. We were 2-for-2 doing that today. Nothing Earth shattering, but we improved and the motor looked pretty good after that run. We'll just try to keep it up tomorrow and end up in the thick of this thing. We did this same thing here last year and went all the way to the Final Round. I wouldn't mind doing that again in 1999."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Steve Schmidt