Dallas: Pontiac Racing qualifying

ENNIS, Tex. (May 27, 2000) - The field is set for the running of the 4th annual Castrol Nationals at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock Kurt Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 6.976 seconds at 198.28 mph. Warren ...

ENNIS, Tex. (May 27, 2000) - The field is set for the running of the 4th annual Castrol Nationals at Texas Motorplex. In Pro Stock Kurt Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 6.976 seconds at 198.28 mph. Warren Johnson moved up to the No. 2 spot in the GM Goodwrench Service Firebird with an elapsed time of 7.001 seconds at 197.10 mph. Ron Krisher is qualified third in a Firebird, Tom Martino is fourth and Richie Stevens is fifth. Mark Pawuk is qualified seventh in the Summit Racing Firebird, Jim Yates is ninth, Brad Jeter is 14th and Bruce Allen is 16th.

In Funny Car, John Force is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.872 seconds at 319.71 mph. Whit Bazemore is qualified second in a Camaro. Tim Wilkerson in the Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird ran his career-best elapsed time and moved to the No. 3 qualifying spot with a run of 4.877 seconds at 299.30 mph. Jerry Toliver is qualified fourth and Jim Epler is fifth. Bruce Sarver turned in one of his best times ever when he drove the emoola.com Firebird to the No. 6 starting spot with an elapsed time of 4.933 seconds at 310.55 mph. Frank Pedregon's CSK Firebird jumped to the No. 7 position, Cristen Powell is qualified eighth, Del Worsham is 10th and Al Hofmann is 16th. Gary Densham ended the weekend qualified in the 17th spot, Dale Creasy Jr. was 19th and Cruz Pedregon was 21st.

In Top Fuel, the No. 1 qualifier is Gary Scelzi with an elapsed time of 4.577 seconds at 322.81 mph. Joe Amato is qualified second, Kenny Bernstein is third and Cory McClenathan improved to the No. 4 position in the MBNA/Pontiac dragtser with an elapsed time of 4.610 seconds at 316.56 mph. Tony Schumacher is qualified fifth.

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

PRO STOCK

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We were definitely feeling the pressure this morning, especially being the first car down the racetrack. Greg (Anderson) and I both made decent runs -- they weren't exceptional but at least we can build on them. Both cars ran pretty good, and right now they're in the top half of the field, but there's three or four good cars back there that can step up this afternoon depending on the weather. We're pleased though with the performance of our Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebirds. The two-car concept has helped us quite a bit. We made some changes in the second car this morning based on what we learned from the first car. We have a lot of parts and pieces in the truck but it's difficult to go into test mode when you're on the verge of falling out of the field. It definitely helps us to run more parts on the racetrack, gain more data and try to get where we hope to be some day and that's faster. We have a good racecar for tomorrow, and I feel we still have some work to do but we're gaining on it. It's a tricky racetrack out here. The air's not very good so we're not making a lot of power -- we can't seem to get through the first couple of gears very well. We're moving in the right direction though and I feel like we can make another good run this evening." No. 7 qualifier - 7.022ET/195.86MPH

Bruce Allen (Texas Harley Pontiac Firebird) - "We got out of the groove a little bit and didn't make a very good run - we were lucky to stay in. We're trying as hard as we can, and you don't always get good results, but sometimes you're lucky and I guess this time we were a little lucky. We probably would've run a 7.02 but we just got way out of the groove along the wall. That killed off a lot of e.t. We made a lot of changes to the Texas Harley Pontiac Firebird trying to figure out what to do to get better because the 7.04 we ran this morning was a pretty good run. It was just slow, so we were in the process of trying to figure out how to make it run faster. What we did should've made the car run better, but for whatever reason it got out of the groove. The first run yesterday had an engine misfire, and wouldn't run so I shut it off. That gave us no information at all, so the second run we made we didn't have any idea what to do except fix the miss, and we did but we didn't have enough clutch. We would have found that out if we had made the first run, so we started out on the wrong foot. This morning's run was the first pass where we had any information, and that's why we were adjusting for the final run because we felt we could make a real good run. We would have if we could have got down through there. I feel like we have something to work with tomorrow. We'll make some changes and figure out why it went crooked. We have clutch data off the run and I feel that we're better than where were qualified. We'll go out and do the best we can. You don't have you're best chance when you're running the No. 1 qualifier, but when you're in the game, you always have a chance." No. 16 qualifier - 7.049ET/ 196.03MPH

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "Now we can breathe. That was a little too close for all of us. I'm starting to understand why my dad is nervous all the time. Give all the credit to (crew chief) Tommy Utt. He knew what was at stake and he pulled us through. We're lucky to have him on our team. I don't know where we'd be without him. We were leaking fuel and we were worried that if we re-fired the car we could start a fire," Stevens said. "So we just decided to give up the run and play it safe. It was hard to do because the way everyone was running I thought that might be our only chance to get in. We had to keep that streak alive. Everyone is talking about it more and more at every event. We might have waited to the last second to get in this time but I'll take it anyway. It's really cool that we ran quick enough to get on the good side of the ladder so we have lane choice. I like the left side. It seems a little smoother. I know we'll have a tough race against Kenny Koretsky (7.039 at 195.99 mph) in Round 1. He was out of racing for a long time and I know he hasn't qualified for a race in several years but the guy sure knows what he's doing. Plus, he's got Rickie Smith as his crew chief so you know his car will be ready for action. I just hope we got all of the close calls and bad breaks out of the way and we can go a bunch of rounds tomorrow."

FUNNY CAR

Cristen Powell (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "The run last night was awesome. It was Andy Neering's fourth pass as crew chief and to run in the fours was quite an accomplishment. This team has turned around, now we're competitive and ready to race with the rest of the pack. Even though this is just my fourth year a racecar, Helen's been racing a long time and her experience has proven that we know how to win. We knew it was just a matter of time before we got this deal going in the right direction and the hard work is beginning to pay off. What we want to do is be consistent, get the Hofmann Racing Firebird dialed in for tomorrow and that's what we're doing." No. 8 qualifier - 4.954ET/299.60MPH

Bruce Sarver (emoola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "We wanted to get a couple of good runs in and then Alan put some more power in it for today's pass. The emoola.com Firebird has some more in and is starting to come around. We've made so many changes to the car and the body over the past few weeks that now we feel we have a combination that we can work on -- it should be a lot better. We're going to try and run quicker tonight, give it a wee bit more power, a little more clutch and see if it will go another three-hundredth's quicker. Our run today was nice and soft and ran it's best speed ever to halftrack. It started catching the clutch at 300 feet, hiked the wheel up and when it got to halftrack it laid me back in the seat even more. I knew it was a good one - I was smiling." No. 6 qualifier - 4.933ET/310.55MPH Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "That's kind of what we were supposed to do yesterday evening. We were just too aggressive though because we're still trying to learn how to use this new fuel pump. That run looked real sweet. I think the humidity is helping us quite a bit. There's a lot of water in the air and it makes it more difficult for detonation. I guess what we need to do is run in races where there's high humidity, although that's what we'll be doing for the next couple of months. I know enough about this to be dangerous and I know that the humidity helps. That's why at places like this we run pretty decent. We're all right though. We'll try to run faster this afternoon. I don't know if we can, but we went way back from our second run and now we're going to go back the other way. We'll try not to shoot ourselves in the foot and run our kind of race tomorrow. We know we can't run 4.80, and even if we could we couldn't afford to, so we won't even try. We'll just go up there, do the best we can and if you can run better than a 4.95 then you'll probably whip us. But if you don't go faster than that then you'll probably be going home. That's our goal for the whole year, to be a middle of the pack car, be there on raceday and make somebody whoop us." No. 3 qualifier - 4.877ET (career best)/299. 30MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That was 99% of exactly what we tuned it to do and what we thought it would do. It actually dropped a cylinder before the finish line and that may have cost us a hundredth of a second, but we were aiming for a 4.96 to 4.98. With one session to go we've established the quickest Funny Car field ever, and if the air comes around just a bit here we might really see something impressive when we're all done tonight. Right now, we would need six more cars to run in the fours to make it the first four-second field but there are six cars here that are fully capable of that. But it's asking a lot to move six more cars up the ladder that much. Either way, I'm proud we're right in the middle of this thing as it stands. Our red Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird can go quicker and we're going out there for the last run to do that."

Second Session: "Man, our cars were set up almost identically, so while I was sitting in my car and watching Frankie run I was jumping all around in there. I knew we could run a 4.90, and through half-track we actually were quicker and faster than Frankie. But our red car decided to drop two cylinders right at the end and I felt it nose over and slow down just before we got to the lights. It's great to run a pair of 4.97's, but we wanted to run quicker than that and we were on our way to running quicker when it nosed over. But, let me tell you it's still an honor to be part of the quickest Funny Car field in drag racing history. I hate that we have to run each other in Round 1. We are both running well enough to win this whole thing, but one of us is going to have to put his car away after first round. I know we'll both be ready, and it will be a battle."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "My run and Del's run were actually identical. All the incremental numbers were dead on the same right out to the last hundred feet or so when my car's manifold burst panel let go. If we just go out there to repeat the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird should run a 4.97. But there's more track out there than that, so I think we'll go out with the same tune up as Del and both try to get in the low to middle 4.90s. After the lap I saw my brother Cruz down there and heard about his wheel stand. I guess it almost went over on him. He said he saw a lot of sky, but I haven't seen the replay or anything yet. I was ahead of him when it happened, so I guess that makes me the only guy here who hasn't seen it yet."

Second Session: "The blue Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Firebird pulled so hard at the top end it threw my head back into the roll cage. I mean, it yanked hard when the clutch locked up, and I've got a headache to show for it. Dave Fletcher has been working so hard and doing so well he is the one who deserves any accolades. I needed to do my job as a driver today, because the cross-winds had been blowing pretty hard here and it was easy to let the car get out of the groove if you weren't really sharp. We all did our jobs and we're #7 in a super-stout field. I'm like Del, I know we could both win this whole thing tomorrow, so it's just pure bad luck we have to face each other in Round 1. I don't often make bold guarantees, but I will guarantee you this: One Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac is going to the second round. Count on it."

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) - "We were disappointed last night because we wanted to take advantage of the great conditions. We couldn't get it done and we did it to ourselves. There was a lot of racetrack but we didn't have enough power for it. We turned around this morning and Wes (Cerny) said, 'don't worry about it, everything's going to be just fine.' By gosh he was right. The MBNA/Pontiac ran 4.61 at 316 even after clicking it off a little bit early so those are good numbers. We're just going to try and repeat that in the second session and try to get something going for tomorrow."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Kenny Koretsky , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Rickie Smith , Jerry Toliver , Cristen Powell