Dallas Pontiac Racing Notes & Quotes - Sunday

PONTIAC RACING NOTES & QUOTES THIRD ANNUAL CASTROL NATIONALS FINAL ELIMINATIONS DALLAS, TEXAS APRIL 25, 1999 PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) This Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird showed us a glimpse of what it's...

PONTIAC RACING NOTES & QUOTES THIRD ANNUAL CASTROL NATIONALS FINAL ELIMINATIONS DALLAS, TEXAS APRIL 25, 1999

PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) This Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird showed us a glimpse of what it's capable of doing Saturday afternoon and then again first round today. We got behind the eight ball with the engine again. The power curve is something we keep struggling to figure out, and if we get below a certain point it just falls on its face. That's basically what happened in the second round today. We got a little too aggressive with it because we were concerned that the track was going to get hot and nasty. But obviously it was still pretty good because Warren (Johnson) went the 6.95. The car fell on its face, and when it finally took off we had too little too late. Richie (Stevens) was over there doing a good job. I've been working on my reaction times all weekend and have had .460 and .450s pretty consistently. It's just that I have to step it up a little more. It didn't get bad in a week and we're not going to fix it in a week. It's taken us a year-and-a-half to get in this position. We've found some things wrong with the chassis that we have fixed that we feel will make our reaction times better. I think you have to blame half of that loss in the second round on reaction time, and the other half on the performance of the race car. The car did fall off but we know what's wrong there. The reaction time we can definitely improve on. If we can finally get everything working together I think this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac has the performance to win some races. The good thing is that when the motor runs in the right power range, we can run with Warren and Kurt (Johnson) like we did in the first round when we went the 6.96. It shows that it has the potential, but as tuners, we still need to do a better job to get the optimum performance out of the motor. That's where the blame lies.

We didn't qualify at Richmond last year and it's not because we couldn't get down the track. It's because we had a power problem. We've come a long way since then and we seem to be making some fairly consistent runs this year. Right now we're on a good run. The car and the engine seem to be running in the top three or four each qualifying session and we're just going to try and work on this problem we have. Our problem is between the starting line and the 60-foot. We'll just work on that hard and try and come up with a combination that will get us through that area. I think that once we get through the 60-foot in good shape, it will run the rest of the track all right. Richmond is the kind of race track that I think will work good with this motor the way it is. It's a little slicker on the starting line compared to Dallas, it will be a little less aggressive and it will help the car get up on the tire. We have a lot of friends and family coming to the race and there will be a little added pressure, but we've always performed well when the pressure's on. We'll dig down and see what we can do. Lost in round two

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) It's pretty frustrating to lose in the first round when we've been running as well as we have been. It just doesn't seem that we can catch a break. We probably should have run faster but I don't think I could have caught him with the .401 light he cut. Now we have to get ready for Richmond and see if we can put this whole package together into a winning program. One of these days, everything's going to g our way and when it does, this Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is going to win a race. Lost in round one

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) We started right and continued to creep to the right until we eventually hopped right out of the groove. I was trying to drive through it but at one point, the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird started spinning so bad that I knew we were done. There was nothing I could do. This is unbelievably disappointing. We had him by three or four car lengths. I feel like I just threw away a real good chance at making a big move up in the points standings. The way things are going it seems like I have zero luck. This car has been so quick. I guarantee that if we hadn't gotten out of the groove we would have posted a 6.93 at least. Then we would have been the quickest car of the round and we'd be looking good for the quarter finals. Instead, we're going home. I just can't believe it. Lost in round one

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) We're going to test in Darlington on Tuesday and Wednesday to see if we can't start running better times in the front half of the race track. We're happy that we got into the race during qualifying and it shows that we have adequate power, it's just that we need to start applying it better to the surface. Jim (Yates) had me by a mile-an-hour in the quarter at the eighth and the Century 21 Pontiac Firebird made it all back up in the back half. He was 1.03 and we were 1.07. You can't give anybody, let alone Jim Yates four hundredths out of that 60-foot block. We thought we were coming around, and I think we made have fooled ourselves a little bit by testing on good race tracks. The bad thing about it is that our current performance doesn't justify how good this car is. We have a lot of work to do before Richmond to get this Firebird ready. But I feel pretty good that we'll be able to do that. We qualified 16th at Virginia Motorsports Park last year and advanced to the final round, so we do know how to race there. Lost in round one

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) Another great weekend ends sooner than I wanted it to. I really thought I had a win over WJ (Johnson) this time. I got him at the line (0.426 seconds to 0.454 seconds) and I never saw him until I was in fifth gear. I was saying 'hold on baby, hold on.' It was so close at the line that I really didn't know who won. I was praying that the little win light would come on but it didn't. I even said to Warren when I got out of the car, 'I though I got you this time.' And he said, 'Well, you didn't.

Once again, I'm still happy with how the team worked together to make this Valspar Pontiac Firebird run so well all weekend. We qualified well and won another round so we continue to make progress. If we keep after it, I know a win won't be far away. Lost in round two

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) We're pretty happy with the way the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird performed this weekend, and even though that winner's circle continues to be elusive, we're starting to run the big numbers that it will take to win races. It's getting quicker and quicker each run and that's very encouraging. Wes (Cerny) will take a step back, look at the data and start preparing for Richmond. We only have a couple of days to get ready. The team did a great job giving me a car that would be fast on race day and with a few breaks we could have done much better. It's a long season, and the key is to go rounds and accumulate points and that's what we did today. Lost in round three

Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We had Bazemore by a tenth on the starting line, but that's not going to do you any good if your car doesn't to the finish line. We've changed the fuel system around on this engine and it's really starting to come around. This weekend we've been fighting a weak supercharger and it's in the mail right now as a matter of fact to see if we can't get it repaired. We don't have an overabundance of superchargers, but yesterday we put a new one on. We had the motor all wound up for the other blower and when we made the change, that's where the big wheel stand came from. We backed it up some more, and in fact we took the whole combination down some. We took more fuel out on the step of the throttle, a couple of more percent off the blower and that Firebird went out and did what it was supposed to do. The motor went up to around 8000, stayed nice and steady, and spun the tire from too much power that time, or not enough race track - whatever you want to call it. It wasn't like our typical deal where it was too weak and shaking into a spin. We're kind of encouraged because we have our motor back with an appropriate volume of fuel in it. To me that means when we get it to run down through there, we'll be able to run the 4.80s that it will take to win races. The left lane was a little iffy for about one second for everybody - even the dragsters. The motor probably had the clutch jazzed up a little more than what it needed to be because the it came around another 100 rpm that we'd been looking for, but in all honesty, wasn't expecting today. That gives you more weight on the clutch and the result was that this car was like a rocket to about 60 feet. But we all know that the track's not 60-feet long. If we can continue to make good power then we shouldn't have a problem, and we should be able to get this Pontiac Firebird back in the top 10 and maybe the top five. All we have to do is keep beating on it. Lost in round one

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We thought we had the combination to win the first round, but it just didn't work out. The track got better and our motor and clutch combination didn't agree with it. Terry (Manzer) will fix it, I'm confident of that. He's made some big strides this year and it won't be long before the JCIT Pontiac Firebird comes around. Right now I'm doing pretty good in the seat and usually that's the problem. We're going into Virginia Motorsports Park where we had some success last year (runner-up) and we'll just have to see if we can't find a little more magic there again this year. The clutch still has us somewhat baffled. We can't seem to make those clutch discs do the same thing two times in a row. Terry and John Stewart will make it right. Last year the Richmond track was a little greasy in the middle towards the end. We'll see if that makes a difference and who can figure it out. Lost in round one

Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) That kind of racing is what we need to be competitive. I was a little late on the starting line but didn't want to red light like I did in Houston. I decided to let the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird talk for me today and it did. I passed him in the lights and I could see it coming. I may not have done my job at the starting line, but after we launched, all I had to do was keep it in the groove and keep it straight. I saw Capps way out there and thought that he had spanked me. But I started catching him, saw a little smoke come out from his car and then I thought 'come on baby!' We needed every inch of the race track to catch him, but we got the job done.

Second Session: We shook real bad right off the starting line, not much farther off than a half-a-car length. We tried to hop the Mad Magazine Firebird up a little bit because we knew Tony (Pedregon) was going to run good. Now we know what doesn't work. We were going for it because we wanted to beat him and we knew that a 5.09 wasn't going to be enough. We knew he was going to run a 4.80 or a 4.90, so we figured we'd just go for it. I thought about pedaling it and when I saw how far ahead of me he was, I just let him go. We had a good weekend though. I'm happy with the consistency of our race car. We ran three 5.00s in a row and you can't ask for much more than that; especially on this kind of race track. Our past performance has been very inconsistent and now we're getting consistency. That's what we'll need to win races. Lost in round two

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) We had a lot of luck on our side today and you have to have that if you're going to go rounds. In the first round, after waiting for the rain to stop, I was ready for it to smoke the tires, and it did. We recovered okay and we were lucky. It's just one of those deals where you have to get the car to virtually run one time or another and we really went for it in that last round. We were really going for it this last round trying to go 4.55 or 4.56. It got out there, got out of the groove, started shaking and I had to pedal it - I had no choice. My hat goes off to Gary Scelzi. They've done a good job today, but we're still making headway one way or another. The MBNA/Pontiac is going to the semi-finals and a lot of guys aren't. It's going to be tough this year but I feel good about it. Lost in round three

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Al Hofmann , Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson