Dallas Pontiac Racing Notes & Quotes Friday

14th ANNUAL O'REILLY FALLNATIONALS TEXAS MOTORPLEX ENNIS, TEXAS DALLAS, Tex. (October 22, 1999) - Professional qualifying began today for the 14th annual O'Reilly Fallnationals at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock, Tom Martino took the No. 1 ...

14th ANNUAL O'REILLY FALLNATIONALS TEXAS MOTORPLEX ENNIS, TEXAS

DALLAS, Tex. (October 22, 1999) - Professional qualifying began today for the 14th annual O'Reilly Fallnationals at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock, Tom Martino took the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Century 21 Firebird with an elapsed time of 6.900 seconds at 199.29 mph. Bruce Allen is qualified in the two spot in the Outlaw Fuel Additives Firebird. The local favorite from Arlington, Tex., covered the quarter mile in 6.906 seconds at 199.51 mph. Warren Johnson is fourth, Jim Yates is eighth, George Marnell is 10th, Steve Schmidt is 12th, Mike Thomas is 22nd and Richie Stevens is 23rd.

In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. took the No. 1 qualifying position in the Interstate Batteries Firebird with an elapsed time of 4.857 seconds at 316.45 mph. It was announced earlier in the day that Joe Gibbs Racing will not be fielding a Funny Car team in 2000. Frank Pedregon is qualified seventh, Cruz Pedregon is ninth, Dale Creasy Jr., is 10th, Gary Densham is 12th, Al Hofmann is 13th and Del Worsham is 16th. John Force is qualified second, Ron Capps is third, Whit Bazemore is fourth and Jerry Tolliver is fifth.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan qualified his MBNA/Pontiac dragster in the No. 3 position with an elapsed time of 4.580 seconds at 311.74 mph. Scott Kalitta is the No. 1 qualifier covering the quarter mile in 4.546 seconds at 318.92 mph, Tony Schumacher is qualified second, Eddie Hill is third and Kenny Bernstein is fifth.

Three hours of television coverage of the O'Reilly Fallnationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, October 24, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We'll take this motor back to the shop, beat on it a little, and turn it into a real race engine - it already ran well enough to put us among the top four qualifiers. We made some changes for the second session based on what we saw on the first run and improved the 60-foot time from 1.07 to 1.04 seconds. We'll see how we did on the incremental times, but I suspect they'll be closer to the top than we were on the first run. We'll stick in one of our proven engines for tomorrow. Both sessions on Saturday will probably see better air and track conditions than we had today. According to the forecast, it will be cooler tomorrow so I expect times to improve." No. 4 qualifier - 6.913ET/200.13MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "I think what we're looking to do is step it up in each session. There are a lot of new things going around including all new fuels. We didn't get an opportunity to run it in the car before this race, so we're taking the conservative path so as not to hurt this engine. It's been pretty good to us so we're just trying to sneak up on it. Hopefully if we can tweak it just right then the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird can jump up a couple of spots in the morning and then we'll see what we can do in the afternoon. The sessions should continue to get faster because the track is coming around really well. It will be a matter of getting the car set up right to run on it. I think the morning will be the best opportunity to run faster because of the way the air is going to be. Basically, right now we're just trying to find the right tune up for this fuel. It kind of caught us by surprise having it available to us right away, so we don't have any testing data available on it." No. 8 qualifier - 6.932ET/198.54MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) "We've been improving so much from race to race that we felt like we could make some adjustments after the first run and make a strong pass in the second session. When you make a run about as good as you can, you're happy with it. That's kind of how we were tonight. That run, if you look at it on the computer, you think that maybe there's something you can do to improve. But I don't know if the track would have taken anymore if we had it. When you run as fast as the fastest guy in the session, then for us that's all you can ask for. Tomorrow, the conditions will probably be better after the cold front moves through and even though the 6.90 we ran probably won't stay second, it will stay in. You can never be happy with where you are, but everyone's been working hard at the shop to get us to where we are and it's great when you see some results. It's a close field though. Tom Martino ran a 6.90-flat, Kurt Johnson ran a 6.908 and Warren (Johnson) ran a 6.913 with a bump at 6.96. There are a lot of good cars out here and when you're running up to your potential, then you feel good about it. It's been a long time since I've been able to say that and it's great. The guys have worked hard, they've pulled together and we're running good. Everyone on the team is responsible for that." No. 2 qualifier - 6.906ET/199.51MPH Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) "We did some testing the Monday after Memphis and felt we had gotten the Century 21 Firebird to run a little better. We made some changes based on what we learned there and then a couple of runs in Englishtown last weekend. Our goal was to improve our performance off the starting line. We haven't had a problem from 100 feet to the finish line, but lately our 60-foot times have been at the bottom of the page. In today's first run, we were number one to 60 feet, and overall we made a better run than we had of late. Basically that told us that if we can run the bottom of this track, we'll also be strong in the back half. I'm not saying that 6.95 will stay number one - we have three sessions left and a tough field chasing us. But we have a good starting point to work from and no matter what, it's always great to be number one."

Second Session: "We're really happy to make two very good runs with the CENTURY 21Ò Firebird today. In fact, we were on the pole in both lanes - first on the left then in the right. That's important, because it shows we have a set-up that works in both lanes. The easiest way to explain today's success is that I finally have enough runs on this car to feel what it's doing, instead of simply reading the computer output. After Memphis we tested and made some suspension changes, because our car wouldn't hold any speed in low gear. A few days later we ran with the new set-up in Englishtown, and it got off the line really well. Knowing how good the surface is here at the Texas Motorplex, we left it alone for today's runs, figuring the track would come to us and it did. It's not as much rocket science as it is getting the car right. If you get the car in that happy zone, the window opens up. Tonight's run was not a perfect clutch run, and it carried the wheels way down track, which pulled it out of the groove. Even so, it was a really nice run, and that's all you can ask. I know I'll sleep well tonight. Being number one is great, but our emphasis is on winning rounds and races. If we're able to run consistently throughout qualifying, we'll be in a better frame of mind and have a better handle on the track for Sunday. That's our goal for tomorrow (Saturday)." No. 1 qualifier - 6.900ET/199.29MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "Most of the cars that ran quick in the first session were on the left side and we ran as well as we did on the right side. That was pretty encouraging. We had the good lane tonight and I thought we'd be flying but it just didn't happen. We destroyed our transmission in the second session. There was nothing I could do but shut off the Pennzoil Firebird. This string of bad luck that's been following us around is still here, I guess. Just when we find something good to talk about then something out of the ordinary like this happens. The only way I know to get through times like this is to keep working hard so that's what we're going to do. It's tough not to get discouraged but we'll just have to rise above this and continue on. I actually think the best times will be run tomorrow. There is a cool front coming through and that will really help us. We should be in good shape by the time everything is said and done." Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) "We had a problem with the transmission. I hope that's what it is because that's something we can easily fix. We have a spare transmission on the truck and we can put it right in there and be ready to go. If it's not the transmission it could be a whole list of things. We need to figure this out tonight before we leave the track because everyone is telling us that a cold front is blowing through here tonight and I think tomorrow's session will be super fast. I want our Valsapr Firebird to be totally ready to go when it's our turn to run."

FUNNY CAR

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "That was a pretty awesome run. The Interstate Batteries Firebird danced the front wheels all the way down the track pulling really hard all the way down. That was what we were hoping for on the first run but it blew the tires off. We were hoping the track would be better in the second session, and it would have run a 4.91 or 4.92 if we wouldn't have smoked the tires in the first run. Better weather conditions made it that quick. That's my quickest and fastest yet in a Funny Car. It actually laid over on the top end. It put a cylinder out at about 4.1 seconds so it probably would have run 320 if it hadn't of done that. We might even be able to go quicker tomorrow. "

On the Funny Car team not coming back in 2000. "At this point Interstate Batteries is going to put more resources towards the NASCAR program and we were informed of that not too long ago. Then today I got the word that the team will reduced to a one car team next year and that it will be a Top Fuel dragster, so the Funny Car team is going away. It comes as a big shock and I'm disappointed because the chemistry for winning the championship is there. The guys and I get along tremendously well and we keep getting better and better at each race. Maybe things could change but it doesn't look very good for us right now. There were a few things they were working on for next year that didn't pan out, so they elected not to continue with the Funny Car. That's basically all I know." No. 1 qualifier - 4.857ET/316.45MPH

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We put a cylinder out and I shut it off at about 1100 feet. I was happy with that run considering it's the first one right out of the box. We were weak, but we went up there trying to get to the end and it's the first time that the motor looks like brand new after a run. We didn't hurt it at all and everything looks great. We probably won't come back out tonight. The conditions are supposed to change and get cooler tomorrow and I want to make sure this Firebird is right. If it's on all eight then it should run 4.95. Tomorrow we'll make two runs and I think you'll see a definite improvement in our performance over what we've been doing. That will give us an idea of what we have to do on race day. We're taking it one step at a time and if we can keep our Pontiac qualified, we should be able to run consistently in the five-ohs on Sunday. We have the equipment, and we have the talent. It's just a matter of putting it all together." No. 13 qualifier - 5.206ET/274.55MPH Cruz Pedregon (goracing.com Pontiac Firebird) "The car was flawless all the way down the track. That gives us a baseline run and that's all we've wanted since we started back at Bristol. We found a few things that weren't right on the goracing.com Pontiac Firebird. We changed our personnel a little bit with Mark Conyers as a co-crew chief and Bob Brandt as a consultant. He's tuning the Montana Express car but we have a lot of history together when we worked with each other at Joe Gibbs Racing in 1995. We're just running this car the way we know how to run it. The 5.01 is by no means is not Earth shattering, but it's solid and it can win you rounds on race day. We're going to come out tomorrow and creep up on it, but the main thing is just getting it from point a to b on all eight cylinders. The fact that it ran 308 tells us it was on all eight. The engine and everything looks good. My goal is to run in the fours, even if it's only a 4.999. We'll start tinkering with it and get ready to race." No. 9 qualifier - 5.019ET/308.11MPH

Jim Dunn - Crew Chief/Car Owner (Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) "We were very happy with the 5.005. We didn't hurt anything, so we'll just sit on that for awhile, but we'll make another run tomorrow to make sure our combination's good for race day. We don't care if we're No. 9 or No. 10. That's just the way we race. Next year we'll change our approach and try to stay qualified in the top five. We'll have a little more financial help so we'll have an opportunity to go after Force a little harder. This year we're just finishing out. We can't finish third because they're too far ahead of us, and I don't think fifth place can catch us so why break a lot of parts if it doesn't mean anything. Come race day, if the Red Line Oil Firebird has a chance to win, then we'll break some parts, but we'll wait for race day before we hurt anything." No. 7 qualifier - 5.005ET/302.62MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) " We finally got rid of our tire shake but then we smoked the tires. I was encouraged because we didn't shake. So we found something, but now we just need to continue from here. We'll get it done. We'll run this mad Magazine Firebird until we get it right because we're on the verge of finding something. We put the old pump back on the car that we ran at Indy so that's fixed. That's one of the variables gone that we've changed and now hopefully we can find something else and keep going.

Second Session: "When I hit the gas I wasn't sure what was going to happen since I've had so much trouble with the car lately. It got through our problem spot, then the Mad Magazine Firebird got to about halftrack and it was hunting all over the place. Normally when it does that it's me, so I just let it go. It started moving towards the wall but I could see the finish line, it went through the lights and I didn't realize it was that good. I got around the corner and they told me what I ran. I was excited because this car went to the finish line. We tried some different things that didn't work, so we went back to our Mallory mags because we know how to make those work, and the Mad Magazine Firebird went right down the racetrack. I don't know if was the mags or exactly what made it work, but that's our combination and we're sticking with it." No. 10 qualifier - 5.026ET/301.00MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt , Tommy Johnson Jr.
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing