Dallas: Pontiac Racing Friday notes

ENNIS, Tex. (May 26, 2000) - Qualifying for the 4th annual Castrol Nationals got underway today at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock Kurt Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 7.004 seconds at 196.59 mph. Tom Martino...

ENNIS, Tex. (May 26, 2000) - Qualifying for the 4th annual Castrol Nationals got underway today at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock Kurt Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 7.004 seconds at 196.59 mph. Tom Martino and the Century 21 Firebird qualified in the No. 2 spot with an elapsed time of 7.040 seconds at 196.16 mph. Ron Krisher's Eagle One Firebird is qualified third, Jim Yates is fourth and Warren Johnson is fifth. Richie Stevens is qualified ninth, Brad Jeter is 11th, Mark Pawuk is 14th, Jamie Yates is 20th and Bruce Allen is 26th.

In Funny Car, Cristen Powell made a move on the field in the second session today placing the Hofmann Racing Firebird in the No. 3 qualifying position with an elapsed time of 4.954 seconds at 299.60 mph. Whit Bazemore is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.887 seconds at 310.34 mph. John Force is second, Jerry Toliver is fourth in the WWF Firebird and Bob Gilbertson is fifth in a Camaro. Bruce Sarver's emoola.com Firebird is qualified eighth, Al Hofmann is 10th, Dale Creasy Jr. is 12th, Del Worsham is 13th, Tim Wilkerson is 17th, Frank Pedregon is 18th, Cruz Pedregon is 19th and Gary Densham is 21st.

In Top Fuel, MBNA/Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is qualified in the No. 7 position with an elapsed time of 4.766 seconds at 312.28 mph. Gary Scelzi is the No. 1 qualifier with a run in the second session of 4.577 seconds at 322.81 mph. Joe Amato is qualified second, Kenny Bernstein is third, Tony Schumacher is fourth and Larry Dixon is fifth.

Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on TNN on Sunday, May 28, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.


Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "We were pretty impressed with our second session compared with where we came from in the first round. We tried to make a lot of changes in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac but we didn't want to shoot ourselves in the foot. We knew the track would be good we just didn't know it would be as good as it was especially with the kind of air we had out there. That slowed us down a little bit because we couldn't get the tires to spin off the starting line, but after that it made a perfect run. We just need to tune up our engine a little more and maybe try to get a 7.02 or 7.03 out of it. There's room for improvement, we just have to make the right moves with the engine. We also need to improve some in first and second gear - I think we can pick up a bit there and then down track we need to find a combination. This is the first track this year that we've had this kind of air. We're almost 4000 feet corrected and that's 4000 feet more than what we were running in last weekend. Now we have to adapt to the conditions. We've been running in that good air all winter so this our first transition to these kind of conditions so we're trying to come up with a tune up that will work. But we don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot. We'll make a move in the morning and then another move ion the afternoon. Tonight we just wanted to get a good baseline. It's going to be like this for awhile. I figure it's going to be like this for the next six months. We just have to get used to it. Bob (Ingles) did some stuff on the dyno where he picked up the power in this kind of air. We didn't want to start out with it but tomorrow we'll go to it and see if it works." Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "We were pretty happy at Englishtown even though we didn't run as good as we thought we did - we felt like we were on to something. We were pretty disappointed the race was called last Sunday. We didn't change anything on the Century 21 Firebird and came here to see if we had made the right decision. We made two good runs and even the change in the weather didn't affect us too bad. Our problem was in the car - it hasn't been very good in first and second gear. It's been acting funny, stripping the clutch, locking the clutch up and it's been completely unmanageable. Something's been wrong that we have been unable to fix. In the last session at Englishtown it made a horrible run, and the 6.86 we put up was on sheer horsepower. I knew right away with the way the car felt what was wrong, so we made changes to it for first round Sunday morning - weight, four-link, shocks, a bunch of things and we were pretty pumped that we were going to run all right. We came here and put up two nice runs. If we can go to Chicago and do the same thing then I'll be happy that we're in that little area we can tune from. Before we weren't able to come back from a run, and fix the car because it was doing so many different things. This morning we were a little heavy and went 7.06. Came back, the track got better, we left it alone, the track came to us and we ran 7.04. We didn't have quite enough transmission in it so tonight we're going to put more in it. The computer's telling us what it's not doing right and if you're smart enough to read the computer you can fix the car."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) -


Cristen Powell (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "The conditions are rough here today as far as the heat and humidity, but it's a lot better than the cold and rain we faced last weekend in Englishtown. We did pretty much what we wanted to do in that first session and that was to get a good baseline. That was only Andy's (Neering) third pass as crew chief of the racecar so we weren't expecting to set the world on fire. We were aiming to keep all eight cylinders lit with no shake and that's exactly what the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird did. It was a little bit rich, a little bit weak, and there was no point in hurting anything so I switched it off a little bit early. It was a pretty good elapsed time considering I lifted about 300 feet before the finish line. Hopefully we can come back tonight, step on it a bit and get in the field strong. It just felt weak. At any one time it didn't feel like it was going to fall on its nose, it just wasn't very strong for the entire run, but at the same time it wasn't on full-tilt either. That was our plan, to take it down the track to see what it would do and build from there. Andy is awesome though and he's doing a fantastic job. He's worked with Helen before and we all get along great." Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We were looking to run on all eight cylinders but the Mooneyes Firebird probably wouldn't have made it if we did. The car put a cylinder out right at the hit and never picked it up. Oh well, that put us in the No. 6 spot and that's a pretty good place to start out. I expect we'll do a whole lot better tonight. If we can keep all eight lit it should be pretty fast, but we still ran 293 mph. For a seven cylinder racecar that's not too bad. If it doesn't spin the tires tonight I think this Pontiac will run real good here. We were lucky it dropped a cylinder when it did or we probably would've smoked the tires like everybody else."

Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm not disappointed but I expected to run a little bit better than what we were able to muster. I figured the Mad Magazine Firebird would run about a 5.20, but compared to the rest of the field and the way everyone else ran, that was pretty average. Usually that's about where we qualify anyway - we're not the quickest and we're not the slowest. We were looking for a quicker, but we had a one-oh 60-foot time and that is just terrible. We're working on that but we're happy because we're driving down the racetrack without hurting anything. Right now, we're not disappointed but we wish it would have run better. The way our season's been going though we'll take it and get ready for the next session."

Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "All we're trying to do is learn how to run our car with this bigger fuel pump on it. I was trying to do that in Atlanta but it didn't work out too well. I've now changed the fuel system, I have a slide valve on there, Bob Brooks helped me a little bit in getting it set up and put on there, and now I just have to decide what I want to do with it. The Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird did exactly what it was supposed to do that run. I wasn't going to drive it past half track, but it knocked the tire off at halftrack so it saved me the trouble of having to shut it off. Anyhow it was just perfect. I'm optimistic. It had all the pistons in it, the sparkplugs look new so now it doesn't have its tongue wrung out at the eight mile like it did in Atlanta. We'll go back to the drawing board and try it again."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Could there be a bigger adjustment to make in five days than what we've gone through? From cold and rain to incredible heat and humidity, it's been about a 50-degree swing. It's really tough out here right now, for the cars and the teams. I think the times show you that most teams really didn't have a great idea of how we could run here. You've got maybe the best racing surface in the world, but the air is horrible and the heat is very bad. We put a cylinder out on the left side from the moment it left the starting line and that made the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird move all over the track. It was hard to keep it straight and it finally got enough out of the groove that there was no saving it. I don't know if it would've still smoked the tires out there if I was right in the middle of the lane, but I know there was no way it was going to make it out of the groove so that was that. The air should come around some tonight when the sun starts to go down. I hope so anyway."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "It was so smooth from the moment I hit the throttle, I really thought we'd make it to the other end. But I just sat in the car and watched three or four cars in a row smoke the tires out there, so I was ready. When it started spinning I got right off the throttle because when you over-rev the car down the track like that you can easily throw the rods out. The thing is it was on a low five-oh, which would have been low e.t. of the session, but that's probably not as simple a statement as it sounds. My guess is the track couldn't handle a low five-oh. That's why we smoked the tires and the cars running the teens got it down through there."


Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) - "It really wasn't a bad run in that first session. Wes (Cerny) softened it up a lot after he saw a couple of guys that didn't make it down through there. We decided we were going to get down through there one way or another and then after awhile that 4.76 didn't look too bad. It ended up No. 3 with a low of 4.74. We brought it back and it looked perfect. It's just really warm out there, and with the humidity the track's a little on the gummy side. That makes it hard to go out there and throw the numbers down that we would normally see here. Hopefully it will cool off this evening because I think tonight's going to be our best opportunity to get after it. We can build on it though. We can run harder in the middle, definitely harder on the starting line, but there's a fine line right now. The racetrack is only going to hold so much but we'll try and push it this next time to see what it will do."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Cristen Powell