Denver Pontiac Racing Finals Notes

21st Annual Mile-High Nationals Bandimere Speedway Denver, Colorado Sunday, July 18, 1999 PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We lost lane choice in the first round and that put us over in the left lane where there was a...

21st Annual Mile-High Nationals Bandimere Speedway Denver, Colorado Sunday, July 18, 1999

PRO STOCK

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We lost lane choice in the first round and that put us over in the left lane where there was a lot of oil dry. When the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird left the starting line, it went about a foot or two to the right of the groove, got out into that oil dry and started spinning the tires pretty much from the 60-foot to the 1000-foot mark. I realized that I was either going to shut the car off or put it in the guard wall. I elected to save the car. I knew I was behind him and I knew that I couldn't catch him at that point in time, so there was no reason to keep beating it up. We won first round and lost in the second round; there's not much else you can say. But it does beat not qualifying and a lot of good cars didn't qualify this weekend. This track was extremely tough to get a handle on this weekend. We come up here once a year, and I think we had a good combination, but we were at a disadvantage to some cars with superior horsepower. I don't know what kind of deal they're running out there, but we can run with everybody but them. We still have to move forward and hopefully we can cover some of that ground when we get to Seattle. Right now we'd like to win some more races--that's our goal. We won St. Louis and the car wasn't really that good. It wasn't performing as well as it should. We went to Bristol, ran a good patient race and the car was good to 60-foot, but wasn't running to the finish line. We went to St. Louis and tested, and we got this Firebird to run to the finish line really well. We came here and put both packages together and got the car to run both the front and the back half of the racetrack. I feel confident that we can put some good numbers on the board, now we have to go to Seattle and make sure that we can put those packages together and run some good ET's. I think if we can run within two or three hundredths of the fast cars like we used to be able to do two races ago, then I think we can win us another race.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We broke the rotor on the distributor on the burnout and that's why it wouldn't run. That's just an example of how our year's gone. We thought we had a shot at Jim (Yates) today but if you can't race then you can't find out. I thought the second half of the season would start out a little better and I still think we have the potential to be a top contender. We'll keep working at it and it will get better. The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird ran really good here last year. We went to the semi-finals and we were confident we could do that again. We'll get back on track in Seattle.

FUNNY CAR

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) Overall, after this morning's run, I'd give us about a "C" for our work this weekend. The track changed a little bit and we were just too aggressive. The JCIT Pontiac Firebird just didn't make a good run. We were in the trailer talking about it a few minutes ago, and we're not upset, but we need to learn how to stop beating ourselves. We did this exact same thing in Atlanta. We went out and couldn't do a thing wrong in qualifying, ran down the racetrack like we owned it, and then in the first round we went out and smoked the hoops. We looked like we'd never seen a racetrack in our entire lives. There has to be some day when all of this data we're collecting starts to pay off making this team even stronger than it is now. We're trying to learn, and you can see why some of the guys who have been here a long time have done a stellar job. I think mentally yesterday's mishap may have worked on me a little bit. It takes you a little while to get over a fire. I mean, I was fine up there staging the car but the race didn't turn out like we expected when we came here this morning. We're not quitters that's for sure. We're out there flying John's (Costanza) flag, we're here to support his company and to do that we need to run fast. You'll see us in the winner's circle again. Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We needed to win that round today really bad. We've been working on the clutch trying to get this Firebird down the racetrack. We've basically turned the computer off and we're going on feel. We made some changes, discussed a lot of things, decided to do something that we thought would never work and early in the run our Pontiac was out in front of Tony (Pedregon). We have a decent engine combination and we know that we do, but we've been chasing gremlins around, fighting bad luck, you just name it, we've been fighting it. We're encouraged by what we saw here this weekend and we're going to do more of what we did today. We had Jim Dunn down here to take a look and he said that we weren't very far off. He made a few suggestions but basically he told us that there wasn't a whole lot wrong with our combination. We're making big moves and it's something we feel we have to do if we're going to be competitive again. If we can go to Seattle, pick up a round or two and continue to build on what we learned this weekend, then I think we'll be okay. By the time we get to the U.S. Nationals, I want to be in the top 10 and in a position to win a race.

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) I was doing my burnout, started backing up, and everything was good. I felt a clunk while I was backing up and I thought maybe I had put into drive too soon. It was still in reverse though, so when I put it into drive, I was a little leery because I thought that maybe the rear end had broke. I pulled the Mad Magazine Firebird forward, grabbed the brake and it stopped. They lifted the body, put it back down, I went to stage and the brake pedal went to the seat. There was nothing I could do about it. It broke the caliper bolts off while I was backing up and it just pulled the end of the line out. Maybe we're going to have to service the car more often. We've had more problems like that this year than we've ever had. Maybe with these new carbon fiber brakes it grabs a little bit more - I don't know. It's been one of those years. We've been running real well and things keep breaking that we're not used to having brake. It's stuff that's not a service item and it's frustrating. Once we get through all of this bad luck I'm going to win me a race.

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) For years now, whenever we've seen teams struggle with dropping cylinders we've always thought at least it wasn't a problem we had to deal with. We've had to battle our way out of a lot of ruts and a lot of problems over the years, but we've rarely had to deal with dropped cylinders. Now for some reason, we've got cylinderitis. We're dropping holes on about half of our runs. It could be electrical or it could be something else. We've got to figure it out before Seattle. We've got a history of doing pretty well in Seattle, and I aim to keep that tradition alive. Staying in the top 10 is really a tough deal out here and we're managing to do that. Looks like we should leave here still in eighth place. The key for us has been qualifying at every race so far, because we haven't won the numbers of rounds we should have won. On the one hand it's been gratifying to stay in the top 10. On the other hand, it's frustrating to realize that if we'd just win a few more rounds here and there we could be in fifth or sixth place.

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) It was a rough weekend for this MBNA/Pontiac dragster. With the data we had from last year, we thought we had a good tune up to come in here with. We were fighting some cylinder problems and blowing some stuff up that we didn't think should have been blowing up. So we changed the whole combination around, went out and ran 4.74 in qualifying. Then last night we were taking some things apart and found we had some nozzles clogged. At that point we couldn't put it back to the way it was and we had to run the car the way we had it. We got lucky second round and it's just one of those things. We still have parts breakage, so we need to figure it out and make this car run from A to B. That means 1320 feet, not 1200 feet or 1000 feet. We just need to take it one step at a time. We'll make it happen, it's just a matter of time. We're a little discouraged right now because we expected to come up here and do a little bit better. I thought we would rule this place forever, at least one more year so that we could threepeat. I guess were not the (Chicago) Bulls.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson