HEBRON, Ohio, June 14, 2002 - Qualifying for the 38th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing got underway today at National Trail Raceway. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson holds the top spot in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac...
HEBRON, Ohio, June 14, 2002 - Qualifying for the 38th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing got underway today at National Trail Raceway. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson holds the top spot in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am after running 6.880 seconds at 200.02 mph.
"That's a nice start," said Johnson. "You have to get qualified before you can race. To a certain extent it surprises me that we haven't qualified No. 1 yet this year, but at the same time, when you look at how close the category is, just qualifying is a feat in itself. And then if you look at how few times the No. 1 qualifier has won a race this season it's pretty dismal."
Johnson, who is the defending champion at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals will qualify for his 300th consecutive race if he remains in the field after tomorrow's two sessions.
"If I don't stay in with that 6.88 it will scare the heck out of me," Johnson said. "I don't put too much emphasis on the qualifying streak. They don't pay anything for it, but what they do pay for is that No. 1 spot and that's what we're shooting for. Getting qualified though comes first and foremost.
"For Columbus these are probably some of the best conditions I can ever remember. It's usually pretty hot and humid although this is one of the few times we've had an opportunity to qualify later in the day, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. But still, these are air conditions we're not usually accustomed to out here." Greg Anderson is the No. 2 qualifier in a Chevy Cavalier posting an elapsed time of 6.889 seconds. Darrell Alderman is qualified third in a Dodge, Troy Coughlin is fourth in a Cavalier and 2000 Pontiac Excitement Nationals champion Mark Pawuk holds down the No. 5 spot in a Grand Am.
In Funny Car, the top qualifier is Whit Bazemore in a Pontiac Firebird. Bazemore stopped the clocks in 4.863 seconds with a track-record top speed of 316.97 mph.
"That was a good run we made tonight," said Bazemore. "Conditions were ideal, but what we had to do was get away from racing John Force in the first round and if we do that by putting the car on the pole, then so be it. But it was a great effort by everybody on this team. We knew tonight would be very important, and Lee (Beard) and the team tuned this car to go to the top. We ran decently in the first lap, so we knew we had room to take a risk and go for the pole, and it paid off. It was a great job by everybody and we'll just have to see if it holds up."
Two hours of qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 15, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, June 16, starting at 8:30 p.m.