Columbus Pro Stock Preview

PAWUK POSITIONING FOR PRO STOCK SUCCESS AT NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio -- Success often comes in small, gradual steps. For Mark Pawuk, those steps are getting bigger as he and his Summit Racing Pontiac team continue...

PAWUK POSITIONING FOR PRO STOCK SUCCESS AT NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio -- Success often comes in small, gradual steps. For Mark Pawuk, those steps are getting bigger as he and his Summit Racing Pontiac team continue to work hard to close the gap with his competitors in NHRA Pro Stock racing. Pawuk, from Akron, Ohio, hopes to realize his dream of returning to the winner's circle in NHRA Pro Stock competition at the 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 10-13, at historic National Trail Raceway, near Columbus. The $1.6 million race is the 10th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Pawuk, 41, has four wins during his NHRA Pro Stock career, which began in 1987. His last victory came at the 1995 Mid-South Nationals, Memphis, Tenn. After rallying to finish 10th in the NHRA Winston standings last season, Pawuk has started the 1999 campaign with much better results. Following eight events, Pawuk has posted four second round appearances, four first round exits and one DNQ (did not qualify). He's currently 10th in the standings, and closing in fast on ninth place driver Steve Schmidt. "The car's coming around," Pawuk said. "The guys back at the engine shop have been doing a great job. The car has been running faster than it ever has. We've been real good to the eighth-mile and we're getting it to pick up speed on the back half of the track. It's just a matter of time before we start winning some rounds. Our performance has dramatically improved over last year and we're just going to keep working on it. I feel like we're going to be very competitive in Columbus." Pawuk recently joined the Speed-Pro 200-MPH Club, clocking a 200.08 mph speed during qualifying at Richmond, Va.'s Pennzoil Nationals. He also posted a career-best elapsed time on that pass, crossing the finish line in 6.883 seconds. With new crew chief Rob Downing firmly planted, Pawuk is optimistic about his team's chances during the second half of the season. "I'm really proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this season, especially with our 200 mph run," Pawuk said. "We just have to be able to convert that into strong race day performances. The game plan going into the second half of the season stays the same: work hard, win rounds, win races and try to think of a way to catch Warren Johnson. One of these days everything is going to go our way, and when it does, this Summit Racing Pontiac is going to win a race." * The Kid: Richie Stevens, driver of the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird, has been one of the hottest competitors in the Pro Stock category of late, posting three straight final round appearances at Richmond, Va., Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J. He earned his most recent victory at Englishtown by defeating hometown favorite Tom Martino.. Stevens, 20, from New Orleans, is currently third in the Winston point standings. He hopes to improve on his '98 finish at Columbus, where Jim Yates had the horsepower advantage at the finish line and won a close semi-final contest. "The team's on a real high note," Stevens said. "Here lately we have been really intense and having a lot of fun. It's always great when you are a contender. To win like we did at Englishtown just makes it even better. We were fast at Columbus last year and we feel pretty confident about our chances there this season."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tom Martino , Steve Schmidt