Chicago Pontiac Racing Saturday Notes

NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL FRAM ROUTE 66 NATIONALS ROUTE 66 RACEWAY JOLIET, Ill. (June 5, 1999) Qualifying was completed today for the Second annual Fram Route 66 Nationals. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 2 position...


JOLIET, Ill. (June 5, 1999) Qualifying was completed today 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 (track record). Jim Yates is qualified sixth, George Marnell is ninth, 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, Randy Anderson is fifth, Al Hofmann is eighth, Dale Creasy Jr. is 11th, Del Worsham is 13th and Tim Wilkerson is 14th. 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 11th 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) Now I know why Jake and Elwood don't live here anymore. The relative altitude was 4,089 feet when we ran this afternoon, so we're about halfway to Denver. We had the choice of being too aggressive or too soft. If we were soft, we might have burned up a clutch, and we don't have too many spares of those. We figured we'd see just how aggressive we could be. It appears that tomorrow will be even hotter than today. If the forecast is correct and the thermometer hits 90, we'll be racing under the most adverse conditions we've faced this season. If the track holds up, we'll just be running with a little less power - but if the track goes away and you're trying to make up for the lack of power, you can really shoot yourself in the foot. We may need to wear steel-toed boots tomorrow! No. 2 qualifier - 6.964ET/198.70MPH (track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We're just trying to get tuned up for tomorrow. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird made a nice run last night with a little extra tire speed in it and slipped a little downtrack, but we were in what I would consider to be the bad lane. I think the right lane has some pretty good bumps in it. Considering the lane and considering the run, I was pretty happy with where we ended up. Today we're going to find a tune up that will help us win tomorrow. The track will be completely different tomorrow than it was last night, and tonight we'll just trying some different stuff with the motor to try and find the right tune up for this weather. Realistically, this morning the track was pretty good and not the main reason for the low performance. I think the air was. There's no barometer here, and a lot of humidity and that seriously hurts the performance of these internal combustion engines. No. 6 qualifier - 6.996ET/196.22MPH

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) What we're trying to do right now is figure out what will happen tomorrow as far as the kind of setup we are going to need. The Dynomax Pontiac Firebird made a pretty good pass right out of the box and I was pretty happy with that. Then last night I was headed towards the wall so I shut it off. Today we put our other motor in and it just didn't like our combination -- at least we're trying to zero in on what it does need. I don't think we'll see any big moves this afternoon so basically we'll just concentrate on race day setup and see what we can do tomorrow. I think the track will be very similar tonight to what we see on race day since we're going to run after the fuel cars. We'll be able to gain a lot of useful information for Sunday eliminations. No. 9 qualifier - 7.007ET/196.10MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) Today the car went right down the racetrack. We were having problems with the car getting out of the groove during both sessions yesterday. We made some changes to the chassis, and changed motors this morning and it brought our Summit Racing Firebird back to life. After three runs down the race track, I think we're getting a handle on what we'll need for tomorrow. We had some trouble last year running in the heat and it was pretty hot out there today. We've been in hotter conditions and the track was decent this morning, but it wasn't super. It was about 115 degrees and about 89 degrees of air temperature. To make as quick of a run as we did is real encouraging because at the beginning of the year we changed the way we run the car from last year. We really haven't had real, real hot conditions for an entire weekend. So far this car shows us that it will get down the race track when the summer weather really hits. We're running the engine that we used earlier in the year. We're taking a look at what we have from a power standpoint because we have Columbus coming up and that's our biggest race of the year with Summit and Pontiac being the main sponsors. No. 11 qualifier - 7.012ET/196.42MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) We put a new motor in and the Pennzoil Firebird accelerated into the clutch a lot harder than the last one. That's a good sign as far as the future is concerned but in that run it just made us spin the tires like crazy. Plus the track is really in poor shape. We'll have to adjust for the heat and get back after it this afternoon. If there's a chance to move up, I'll take it.

Second Session: We couldn't be more excited about racing tomorrow. It appears we have solved the problem we encountered yesterday that slowed us down a little. It was an electrical bug and we have fixed the problem completely. The last lap is proof of that. We were the third quickest car in the session and ran just as smooth as can be down the strip. It's real nice to run well in the final session. It allows you to rest easy the night before Race Day knowing your car is fast. No. 14 qualifier - 7.024ET/196.36MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) I think the track is worse now than it was last year when it was brand new. It was so gummy out there just past the starting line area it made it impossible to get any kind of traction. Obviously, with no one else moving up at all, this was one of those laps that you basically throw away. Now we have to pray for cloud cover later or I just don't see how we'll be able to move up into the field. It's the wait-and-see time.

Second Session: Unfortunately this ended up being one of those races where everybody qualified in one session (Friday night) and that was the one time where we missed the set-up. It's too bad because, relative to the field in all the other rounds, we were actually the ninth or 10th quickest car here.

But that's racing. We weren't on when we needed to be. What happened here is that we were coming off back-to-back races where we qualified for the elimination rounds but were on the bottom half of the field. We weren't satisfied with that so we spent a lot of time testing over the last two weeks trying to make this car quick enough to really contend. We thought we had found some things and we tried them here but they just didn't work as well as we had hoped. We certainly won't quit trying. We've got just a few days to get ready for the race in Columbus and I hope we'll be ready to go there. No. 19 qualifier - 7.046ET/195.96MPH


Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We really had the JCIT Firebird set up today like we did yesterday in the first run and all it did was move the problem out. We just changed it a little bit and it wasn't there enough. Terry's (Manzer) back there working on it and he'll get the car right. We've had quite a few runs where we haven't made it down the racetrack and you'll definitely see us run better. Our goal in the next session is to figure out what this place will take tomorrow. You hate to see Skuza ruin in the 4.90s but that just shows that the racetrack will hold it. We just have to figure out how to do it. We'll try it again this afternoon and I'm pretty sure you're going to see a better number. No. 14 qualifier - 5.108ET/292.52MPH

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) Today we're just getting ready for tomorrow. We're pretty confident that the 5.07 we ran yesterday is going to hold up and we have a good race day tune up on this Mad Magazine Firebird. The 5.15 we ran in the first session yesterday was done in similar conditions. For some reason, and I don't know why, we seem to have found a combination that will go down most any racetrack. I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that, but we're running the car real safe and that seems to have worked for us. No. 11 qualifier - 5.079ET/289.20MPH

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We went out in the first round tried to get after it and we probably got the cart before the horse. The track wasn't real good and we had the right lane which is a little suspect. So went out this evening the first car out and had no idea what was going on. We may have poured too much alcohol in the tank bringing the nitro-percentage down too much. But we still made a decent run, the motor was just weak. In the past when we had a weak motor this car smoked the tires, so we're really pleased with what's going on. This Firebird is making laps and it's just a matter of time before we win a race and get back into the top 10. We think if we can get by Frank Pedregon in the first round then we may be able to run four good laps. The second round would be a pretty good battle with John Force and if that happens, we'll run our race and make him beat us. At this racetrack a lower horsepower car like ours just may have the advantage. We have lane choice in round one and if we can maintain that then anything could happen. No. 8 qualifier - 5.022ET/302.82MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) I've decided it's a personal thing between me and that motor. It doesn't like me and I don't like it, so we're yanking it out and putting in another one that already earned my affection a few races ago. I'm a little stumped why that one doesn't have any power, it just doesn't want to leave the line with anything like what we're used to. We've changed just about everything in the last 3 laps, so that everything on the car was fresh, and it still didn't leave hard enough. It wasn't going anywhere out there, it wasn't sounding too stout and I didn't think it had enough of a chance to run any better than the 5.10 we ran last night, so I shut it off. We'll come out for the last one with new stuff and see what this Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird will do.

Second Session : The good news is we're going down the track and not blowing stuff up. And that is real good news. The bad news is, we're not quite fast enough right now. We've been going at this kind of methodically, which can be the frustratingly slow way, but it's the way you've got to do it. We've turned up the dial on various parts of the car one by one, to see what works. If you change everything at once, you don't know what worked and what didn't. So, there are still a couple of key things we can do, and that will be the plan for tomorrow. We've got to pick up a tenth, and the driver has to do his job. No. 13 qualifier - 5.104ET/284.51MPH

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