Denver Friday Pontiac Notes

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MILE-HIGH NATIONALS FRIDAY, JULY 17, 1998 DENVER, COLORADO Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) That run even surprised us. We were out here testing last week and we had kind of a handle on what this race...


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) That run even surprised us. We were out here testing last week and we had kind of a handle on what this race track will take. We went back, pulled down our real race motors (we don’t test with our race motors) and we felt that we could run a little faster than a 7.39, maybe a 7.37. We thought a 7.36 would be about good as we could run and it surprised us when we ran the 7.34. In the afternoon run today, we had an ignition coil that went bad. Conditions tonight we’re about 1000 feet better than they were today so that’s about a tenth of a second in ET. Part of that is that the track was also cooler. With the relative altitude change, we made about three percent more in power, but the track cooled off by about 20 degrees and that was the biggest factor. That enabled us to put more clutch and gear in the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird so that we could apply more of that power to the race track. Tomorrow, the track will completely go away with the temperatures expected to hit 100 degrees. You won’t see any 7.30s tomorrow, I can guarantee that. At least not from our car anyway.

No. 1 qualifier: 7.346ET (track record)/187.46MPH (track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) Frankly, we’re a little bit confused. The motor in Jamie’s car went 7.41 here in testing last Saturday with the same air that we had tonight. He runs a 7.49 tonight and then my Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird runs a 7.44 and it has an even better motor. Hopefully, tomorrow we can come out and make a run that's good compared to the rest of the field. I don’t know if we can step up much, but we'll look over every aspect of our combination to see if we overlooked something.

No. 15 qualifier: 7.443ET/183.82MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We were here last week testing and it looks like it paid off. The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird started bouncing around in third gear, so I think we could have run quicker. I'm a little concerned about tonight because it's going to be a one shot deal, and we’re in the right lane. All of our test runs were in the left lane. Hopefully we'll be able to get down the track tonight. This afternoon's run was a pretty good way to start the weekend. It was a real nice run until third gear, and we lost some ET on the back half. But still, I'm not complaining. We're three thousandths off low ET right now. I just hope the right lane is as good as the left lane tonight.

No. 5 qualifier: 7.404ET/ 184.69MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) Something shut off. Fuel, ignition, the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird quit running between second and third gear It started running again in fourth, but we were out of sequence and the run wasn't any good, so we shut it off. We're trying to decipher what's going on. The carburetor may have flooded over, but it's a problem we haven't had before. We're going to run some carburetors and some regulators that were on another motor when we tested here last weekend. We went through low gear fine. I put it in second and it just kind of laid there. I thought I had shifted it from first gear to third, but we came back and looked on the ratio chart and it was in the right gear. The motor just wasn't running. After I went through third gear, it took off and started running again.

No. 7 qualifier: 7.410ET/184.72MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) We had a little too much clutch, but overall, this was a great way for us to start. It was the first run on that engine and it ran great. I can't wait for tonight. We'll be in the right lane, which looks a little smoother, and the night temperatures should cool the track a lot. The Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird should be on top after round two.

No. 8 qualifier: 7.414ET/184.69MPH

George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) We were here last weekend and tested on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We tried some different things, some different combinations and we ended up running pretty good. We've always run good here. We went back to the setup we had last weekend, established a good baseline, and now we'll see if we can get this Tenneco Pontiac Firebird back in the show. We've been plagued by different problems all year. Trying to get those things sorted out has been our No. 1 priority. We'll keep working to get car competitive once again.

No. 24 qualifier: 7.491ET/181.92MPH

Tom Martino (Six Flags Pontiac Firebird) Unfortunately for the poor guys who didn't make it tonight, it will take a monumental effort tomorrow. The Six Flags Pontiac Firebird made a gorgeous run. We've just struggled a little bit with the tune-up here. We made as nice a run on the computer and in the car, that if I could do that all the time, I would be happy. At just about 8600, it was laying over. You could see it on the G-meter. This is the first time we've run up here with our combination and we don’t have it right yet. It's just a matter of us getting a few more runs on this race track. It will be good for us tomorrow because we don't have to worry about getting bumped out. We're going to try some different combinations tune-up wise--one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It will give us a couple of different directions to go and hopefully between the two, we'll be better off for Sunday. We could have run a 7.41, not by picking up the run but by picking up the motor. I had to shift it right at 9000 and it likes 9250 up here. It just didn't want to go. We're going to get a little more aggressive tomorrow.

No. 12 qualifier: 7.440ET/184.12MPH


Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) We're having fun and we're keeping busy this weekend with the Small Soldiers Firebird and the challenge of racing on the mountain. Wes' (Cerny) been so good every place else we’ve been this year that the entire team has a high level of confidence in his ability here. This is the seventh time I've been here in a Funny Car, but it's the first time I've raced here with someone like Wes to face this challenge. The car was on a good run in that first session, it got a little bit sideways, and I got back into it, but decided we’' be better off otherwise. I actually got it to recover OK, so we'll be ready for tonight. We've had a couple of weeks off, half-time's over and now we're ready to start the second half of this football game. We've regrouped, the crew is rested and we're ready for the Western swing. This time of the year is so critical. It will be interesting to see how we fare when we finally get to Indianapolis. We've had three wins this year, we can't complain and we need to stay focused. I think if we can get a little bit of racing luck on our side that would be nice, but you make your own luck in this sport and our team is more than up to the challenge.

No. 12 qualifier: 6.336ET/151.66MPH

Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) There's no doubt that we have our work cut out for us going into the second half of the season. There's a lot of optimism on the Parts America Pontiac team, we know what we have to do and we're going to get there. We're setting some big goals to achieve, but we still feel like we can get this thing turned around and get back into the top five before the year is over. That's what we plan to do. It's difficult to race at Denver sometimes because we only come here once a year and the tremendous altitude creates unique challenges that we have to deal with. The corrected altitude here today was 10,000 feet when we usually race at around 2500 feet. It's the same for everybody and it can be frustrating, but we're going to do our best and then go on to Sonoma.

No. 13 qualifier: 6.510ET/141.64MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) It looks like we weren't the only ones who smoked the tires that time. Every one seemed to have the same problem, although a couple of guys went a little farther and a little quicker. The track temperature was 135 degrees on the concrete when we went up there so the asphalt was probably another five degrees warmer. We have an advantage since with the Pontiac Firebird, but we don't have much downforce because there's simply no air. It won't affect the Top Fuel guys as much because they can just crank more wing into it. Tonight, the track will cool off and it will be better. Right around 6:30, the mountain begins to shade the surface and when that happens, the traction will come.

No. 6 qualifier: 5.573ET/244.10MPH

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) That Firebird did precisely what we wanted it to do that time. We decided we just wanted to get down the race track today, not clutch it or hold the brake--none of that garbage. Just see if we could go down through there to make sure we can decide on a good tune up. As usual, my guys did a great job. We haven't done a thing since St. Louis as far as testing for this race. We've been focused on getting our new 1998 Firebird body on the car. Now that we've that done, it appears that it woks pretty good. It went straight down the track and if the clutch hadn't locked up, we would have been in even better shape. These guys will fix it and hopefully, we'll be No. 1 after next session. We'll step it up. We're about 40 points out of the Big Bud Shootout, so we need to qualify at least third. You're going to see us lean on this thing every race until we get to Indy.

No. 2 qualifier: 5.288ET/271.57MPH

Del Worsham (Checker-Schucks-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) Off the track we hosted Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in our pit area and at the starting line all day. He's a big fan of motorsports and he had a great time. I never really knew what Senators were supposed to be like, but he was just a great guy, real easy to talk to and real excited about our car and our transporter. Then we went out there and smoked the tires twice on our Pontiac Firebird. On the first lap, we almost made it. It was real close to going all the way but it smoked them out there around 300 feet. So we took a little out of it to give it a better chance at making it in the second session, and it was just all messed up. We’re going to look at the clutch system real hard tonight because something was just wrong out there in the second session. It was just messed up from the hit of the throttle, so we have to see if there was a malfunction in the clutch area and fix what's broken.

No. 17 qualifier: 11.161ET/82.26MPH

Top Fuel

Cory McClenathan (McDonald's/Pontiac) After seeing what everyone else was doing it was just a matter of asking the guys what they thought we could do. We knew we could probably run a 4.85 and stay right there with them. It started spinning the tires at the other end, and when that happened, the holes started mixing up. But it wasn't really too bad of a run for out here on the hill. Even if we can just grab the No. 1 spot by a little bit, we’ll take it. I think that time has a good chance of standing tomorrow. The McDonald's Pontiac has been known to be able to run quick in hot weather. The heat will definitely affect track conditions tomorrow so just because we can make more horsepower doesn't necessarily mean we will run better.

No. 1 qualifier: 4.868ET/294.88MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell