Dallas Pontiac Racing Eliminations Review

WARREN JOHNSON WINS AT DALLAS AND CAPTURES HIS FIFTH WINSTON TITLE Tommy Johnson Advances to Fourth Consecutive Final Round ENNIS, Tex. (October 24, 1999) - Warren Johnson came into the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals needing to acquire the...


ENNIS, Tex. (October 24, 1999) - Warren Johnson came into the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals needing to acquire the maximum 138 points in order to clinch his fifth Winston Pro Stock championship. He did just that by driving the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird to the No. 1 qualifying position, a new national elapsed time record, and his seventh national event victory of the year at the Texas Motorplex. "It's been tougher and tougher all year long," Johnson said. "I'm happy for our team and happy for our sponsors and most of all for the fans - I appreciate them all." Johnson came into eliminations the race day favorite after setting both ends of the track record during Saturday time trials with a qualifying run of 6.822 seconds in the morning session. In the final Saturday qualifying round, he set the new national top-speed record at 202.33 mph. He defeated Mike Edwards in round one, Allen Johnson in round two and Troy Coughlin in round three before facing off against two-time Winston champion Jim Yates in the final. Johnson's performance numbers throughout the day kept the competition back on their heels with a 6.860ET/201.16MPH in round one, 6.854ET/201.47MPH in round two and 6.858ET/202.11MPH in round three. In the finals, Yates' Firebird left the starting line first and appeared to be out ahead of Johnson's Pontiac far enough to make up for the performance disadvantage. But Johnson caught Yates at the stripe running a 6.842 elapsed time at 201.74 mph to Yates 6.892 elapsed time at 199.24 mph, and taking the win by less than one hundredth of a second. It was the seventh time this season that the two Pro Stock rivals had faced each other in eliminations, with Johnson winning five times and Yates twice. "I tell you, the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird was awesome on the final run," Johnson said. "I stuck it in second gear and it just hiked up the front end and marched right to the finish line. It trembled a little in first gear so the 60-foot time wasn't the best. It went in second gear and took off - we ran the quickest e.t. of eliminations on the last run." Today's win gave Johnson his third straight victory at the Texas Motorplex and the 79th of his career. His Firebird topped 200 mph seven times during the weekend including three 201 mph runs and one 202 mph pass in eliminations. "I knew it was going to be fast all day long, and that was going to help anyone who had a marginal setup," Johnson explained. "The track was going to be good enough to cover up for it. I knew it was going to be tough out there every round. There were 16 cars within nine hundredths of a second, and that's the blink of an eye. "I had Edwards first round, and he's the consummate holeshot artist. Once I got by that round I felt we had a good chance of winning based on what everyone else was running. We were competitive and that's all we really needed, just so we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. That was the biggest thing. With the air conditions we had out here, you could make enough power that if you make a real error in clutch, chassis, or gearing, you'll have to abort the run." Yates came into today's race qualified in the No. 8 position defeating Mike Thomas in round one, Tom Martino in round two and George Marnell in round three before falling to Johnson in the championship match up. Going into the final session, Yates felt confident that the momentum was beginning to swing his way. "I felt really comfortable in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird this weekend," Yates said. "I was comfortable with my lights, the car was going good and straight, and we have the chassis where it's doing everything right on the first half of the race track. But from the eighth mile on, it was just loose and out of control. I don't know if it was the racetrack or this car, but I felt like we should have been able to run faster in the final than we ran all day. "I figured if we could have run a 6.87, or 6.88, we could have beat Warren (Johnson). I had a good jump on him at the starting line, but he's running real strong, he took the national record and set low e.t. of every round, so it's hard to beat him. We had him right where we wanted him, but he just slipped through our fingers." George Marnell had one of his best weekends of the year qualifying the Dynomax Firebird in the No. 7 spot, joining the Speed-Pro 200 mph Club with a run of 200.08 mph, and advancing to round three of eliminations before losing to Jim Yates. Tom Martino and the Century 21 Firebird lost in round two to Jim Yates. "The whole weekend was excellent - the best outing the Dynomax Pontiac Firebird has had in a long time," Marnell stated. "We got into the Speed Pro 200 mph Club, that was a tremendous success for us, and then going some rounds was pretty gratifying. This car has been consistent and going down the racetrack. Even in some conditions that were less than optimum we were able to make some pretty good passes down the track. I'm pretty happy about it. We backed up our 200 mph run to show that it was no fluke, so all in all it was a great weekend, and we're looking forward to going to Houston to build on what we've started here." Richie Stevens, Mark Pawuk, Bruce Allen and Mike Thomas lost in round one; Stevens to Allen Johnson, Pawuk to Tom Martino, Allen to Darrel Alderman and Thomas to Jim Yates. "We didn't have a good result in the first round today, but Darrell's (Alderman) a good driver, he had a good light, he ran well and you can't be too disappointed with that," explained Bruce Allen. "Overall the weekend went pretty well. In this sport you have to find the good things. The Outlaw Pontiac Firebird made a real good run in the first round, got real loose down track and kind of got sideways, but still managed to run the 6.86. It's a good lap, I had a .460 light, and that's not bad, but obviously it needs to better. "Obviously the car's running good, and my driving is getting better, so basically we're making progress in all aspects of our program. I wouldn't be surprised if we went to Houston and won. I feel that confident about out program at this point in time." Warren Johnson wins his fifth Winston Pro Stock championship in a Firebird and has 1650 points. Kurt Johnson is second in a Camaro with 1367 points, Jeg Coughlin Jr., is third in an Oldsmobile with 1273, Jim Yates is fourth in a Firebird with 1181, and Richie Stevens is fifth in a Firebird with 1036. Mark Pawuk is in eighth place in a Firebird with 897 points. Tommy Johnson Jr. drove the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird to its fourth consecutive final round, and became only the third driver after John Force and Tony Pedregon to exceed the 320 mph barrier in a Funny Car. Johnson's performance this weekend moved him into the Winston top-10 for the first time this year. Johnson entered final eliminations qualified in the No. 2 position and defeated Scott Weis in round one, Gary Densham in round two, and Whit Bazemore in round three before meeting John Force in the finals. Johnson's performance numbers were 5.176ET/259.96MPH in round one, 4.868ET/312.17MPH in round two and 4.841ET/320.05MPH in round three. In the final, John Force took the win, and his ninth Winston championship running 4.827 seconds at 319.60 mph to Johnson's 4.843 elapsed time at 319.82 mph. "It was a great race in the final round," Johnson said. "It doesn't get much better than that -- I really enjoyed that. To run 320 mph in the semi-finals and then to go out in the finals and run 4.84 to his 4.82 with both us at 319 - that was pretty special for everyone who saw it. You can't ask for a better drag race. I'm disappointed but not too disappointed. You can't be when you're running like that. "At least he (Force) knows that Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird is over there. Next weekend we race in Houston and I love that. Back-to-back races is great. That week off after Memphis it seemed like it took me forever to get back into the rhythm of things." Cruz Pedregon and Gary Densham advanced to round two before being eliminated; Pedregon by Ron Capps and Densham by Tommy Johnson Jr. "I felt we needed to try something new in the goracing.com Pontiac Firebird this weekend and it paid off," Pedregon said. "Our car ran the best numbers so far all season and we let 'em know we were here. In round two today the car left the line with the most power we've generated yet in our match up with Ron Capps, and we had him until half track when we ran into trouble. "We had an engine malfunction of some sort, and the reason is not apparent at this time, but the result was severe damage to the motor. The connecting rods exited the block on the left side of the case, we had a small fire, and the body was damaged. I'm not upset at the damage, this is the price of running the engine hard. You have to run the engine hard to win on race day. You can't hold back and win races." Al Hofmann, Dale Creasy Jr., and Frank Pedregon lost in round one; Hofmann to John Force, Creasy to Ron Capps and Pedregon to Gary Densham. "The Red Line Oil Firebird got out of the groove a little bit, started to smoke the tires and I shut it off," Pedregon said. "We were dead even up to that point, but it's just one of those deals. We were hoping to do much better, but it looks like we have fourth place locked up so that's what I'm excited about. We have two more races to go and Jim's (Dunn) going to run it hard. It will be our last two races together, and it's kind of a bummer but hey, we're both going to be doing something that will make us happy, and that's what's important." John Force wins the Winston Funny Car championship in a Mustang and has 1857 points. Tony Pedregon is second in a Mustang with 1496 points, Whit Bazemore is third in a Camaro with 1342, Frank Pedregon is fourth in a Firebird with 962, Dean Skuza is fifth in an Avenger with 892 and Del Worsham is sixth in a Firebird 865. Tommy Johnson Jr., is in ninth place in a Firebird with 774 points. In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan and his MBNA/Pontiac team came into today's final eliminations battle qualified in the No. 5 spot and looking to move up from their eighth place position in the Winston standings. McClenathan defeated Tim Gibson in round one, but lost to Mike Dunn in round two when the MBNA/ Pontiac suffered an engine explosion. The race was won by Tony Schumacher who defeated Scott Kalitta in the final round. Schumacher ran 4.621 seconds at 323.39 mph to Kalitta's 5.072 elapsed time at 205.62 mph. It was the first career Top Fuel win for Schumacher. With two races left on the schedule, Tony Schumacher leads the championship race with 1338 points, Joe Amato is second with 1257, Doug Herbert is third with 1198, Gary Scelzi is fourth with 1187 and Mike Dunn is fifth with 1172. Cory McClenathan is in eighth place with 1082 points. In the Sportsman categories, Pat Austin of Tacoma, Wash., won in Federal Mogul Funny Car in a 1999 Pontiac Firebird by defeating Chuck Cheeseman's '99 Firebird. Austin ran 5.656 seconds at 253.52 mph to Cheeseman's 5.734 elapsed time at 249.30 mph. Bo Butner of Clarksville, Ind., won in Super Stock in a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am and Lee Bannister of Crosby, Tex., won Stock Eliminator in a 1972 Formula Firebird. The next stop on the schedule is the Third annual Matco Tools Supernationals on October 28 - 31 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex. It is the 21st race on the 22nd event NHRA Winston championship tour. Final-round coverage can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, October 31, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. First-round coverage can be seen beginning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Scott Weis , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Tommy Johnson , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Allen Johnson , Tim Gibson , Bo Butner , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.