Denver: Pontiac Racing Saturday notes

DENVER, Colo. (July 15, 2000) - Qualifying was completed today for the 22nd annual NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson was the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time in the final session of...

DENVER, Colo. (July 15, 2000) - Qualifying was completed today for the 22nd annual NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson was the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time in the final session of 7.339 seconds at 187.81 mph. Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac improved in the morning session and is the highest qualified Firebird in the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 7.347 seconds at 187.96 mph. Larry Morgan is qualified third in a Dodge, Ron Krisher and the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is fourth and Jeg Coughlin Jr. is fifth. Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird is 10th, Brad Jeter is 11th, Tom Martino is 12th and Jim Yates is 15th. Bruce Allen was 19th and Richie Stevens was 20th.

In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore took the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Kendall Camaro with a run of 5.026 seconds (track record) at 302.82 mph. Bruce Sarver was the quickest Pontiac, qualifying the Firebird in the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 5.040 seconds at a speed of 301.81 mph. Jim Epler is qualified third in a Camaro, Tony Pedregon is fourth in a Mustang and Dean Skuza is fifth in a Dodge. Jerry Toliver's WWF Firebird is qualified seventh, Al Hofmann improved to eighth, Frank Pedregon is 10th, Del Worsham is 13th and Tim Wilkerson rounds out the field in the 16th position. Dale Creasy Jr. was 17th and Tommy Johnson Jr. was 18th.

In Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi was the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.697 seconds at 308.21 mph. Team Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan improved to the No. 3 spot in the MBNA dragster with a final-session run of 4.770 seconds at 308.00 mph. Joe Amato is qualified second, Larry Dixon is fourth and Tony Schumacher is fifth.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We had the wrong lane in the right session. That lane's been oiled down numerous times, and you saw a few cars and some motorcycles get crossed up over there. We made some minor changes to the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird for today anticipating what the track would hold. It worked this morning, there just wasn't any racetrack tonight. The cooler temperatures predicted for tomorrow should make everyone quicker. Depending on how much it cools down it should also help the track so we might even see some 7.20s." No. 2 qualifier - 7.347ET/187.96MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "The good news is we're qualified. We were in the right lane for both good sessions - last night and tonight. We just didn't fare very well. This morning when we were in the good lane we had an electrical snafu. The car didn't go but eight to 10 feet before it shut off. For the situation we put ourselves in I feel pretty fortunate that we qualified, now we just need to buckle down and see what we have to do to beat Warren (Johnson). That right lane is going to be handful. In the last session, the lane was really loose downtrack and I think a couple of other cars got out of shape. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird started getting close to the centerline and I had to lift. It's just not worth wrecking the car. I was hoping we could hold on and we were fortunate enough to stay 15. I think we could've run a 7.38 in the left lane that session, but coulda, woulda, shoulda doesn't get it done." No. 15 qualifier - 7.406ET/185.84

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "I told Fred (Simmonds) that this race was shaping up a lot like Columbus except this one didn't take as many years off my life -- this race only took a couple. We know the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird has enough power to run good. We struggled here all weekend with our setup and we still didn't make that great of a run. We're having a problem getting off the starting line, but the car came around in second gear and ran good. It's tough though. We got the right lane choice, we were the last car to go down the track in the final session, the clouds came in and cooled things off and we had a lot of good things happen that helped us get in. But it all came together and the guys did a great job. I was sitting in the car watching the bump drop and that made me a little anxious. I let the clutch out and the car shook pretty bad in low gear. I said to myself, 'please come out of it.' As soon as I put it in second gear it stood up and felt like a pretty good run. We've been having trouble all weekend in fourth gear, and it was really smooth through fourth so I felt we were going to be okay. But you never know. All the guys on the crew pulled together and got it done. Thank God for the weather. These cars are so close. We don't have lane choice in the first round tomorrow but I don't think that's too big of a deal. It may have been Friday but not today. I want to go some rounds, and if we can do that anything can happen." No. 10 qualifier - 7.365ET/186.79MPH

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "I've got faith in everybody working on this Dynagear Pontiac Firebird -- everyone's doing a great job. We struggled a little bit at Bristol, struggled a little bit here this weekend and finally we found out what we needed to do. We don't have lane choice in the morning, but I'm confident that Terry Adams (crew chief) and Steve Schmidt (car owner/engine builder) will give me a good car to race with. We knew we were going to make a good pass sooner or later, we were just hoping that we wouldn't run out of time or opportunities. We're awfully proud that this Firebird stepped up when it did, now we're going to try and win us some rounds tomorrow." No. 11 qualifier - 7.378ET/186.23MPH

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We had a real good lap out of that right lane tonight - you can't run any speed over there. We were just a couple of hundredths slower. We tried something on the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird this morning, and it didn't work but we had to try it. We were just dropping too much on the shifts in the first session, so we changed some ratios ,and our clutch setup for this afternoon and now I think we're ready to go for tomorrow. At least I'm pretty sure we're set for tomorrow. We can definitely run out of either lane and the left lane is definitely faster, there's no bologna about it. We're pretty excited about our chances. We did what we wanted to do in that last qualifying round. We knew it would be hard to get into No. 1 from that lane, but at least we were the quickest car over there. It's been a struggle this weekend, but I'm pretty happy about where we are tonight." No. 4 qualifier - 7.355ET/186.51MPH FUNNY CAR

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "We just wanted to get the Pontiac Firebird down the racetrack. After we realized the track was going to be fairly decent, we didn't have time to step it up. It would have been nice to qualify No. 1, but No. 2 isn't too bad. We wanted the car ready to race - that's the important thing. That run was so safe it wasn't even funny. We should be able to run five-ohs all day tomorrow. We left it alone to see what we had and basically we left the car like it was when we ran the 5.04. The goal today was to see what the car would run in the heat, where it would fall off and where the track would fall off. The car wasn't going to run a 5.04, but we had to know where we would fall off so that we could adjust for the racetrack tomorrow. Now if we need to play hardball we can definitely get more aggressive and do that." No. 2 qualifier - 5.040ET/301.81MPH

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - It's difficult racing at this altitude. I still don't know what happened. The Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird was on a pretty good run so we're happy with that. All we can do is come back tomorrow and see what we can do with it. I'm a little singed and I breathed in a little smoke but I'm okay." No. 8 qualifier - 5.171ET/287.78 MPH

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) -- "It had a hole out so as soon as it smoked the tires I let go of the wheel to grab the brake and as soon as I did that it moved over to the line. I let off, got it turned back in the other direction and when I nailed it again that's when it blew the blower off. It wasn't the prettiest run, but right now we're in the show. Hopefully the track will cool down a little bit this afternoon when we run. If we tweak it just a touch, the Hofmann Racing Firebird should run a 5.15 to a 5.20. It's pretty close to running good, but like everybody else we got loose on the other end. It ran good through the middle of the track and wasn't bad at all. It was soft, but it made it and that's encouraging." No 18. qualifier

Jim Dunn (Car Owner/Crew Chief: Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We blew the rods out of it last night and don't know why. We started it up today, and the rear main seal was leaking on the new motor so we didn't make a run in the first session. But we'll be up there tonight. It's all new - new blowers, new mags, new coils, new wires, so we're giving it our best shot trying to keep this Mooneyes Firebird in the show. The 5.43 we ran yesterday will probably stay in. We're 13th right now but we can't take that to the bank. The heat we can run in, it's the altitude that gives us problems. We're at 5200 feet before we correct it. We're 9000 feet corrected, and even at St. Louis where it was so hot and humid, it only corrected to 3000 feet. We only run here once a year, and every year we either have a different kind of blower, or something and this year we have 90-percent. It's just a gamble with all of us throwing darts at a board. Every year it's a different kind of curve ball. Everyone in the pits is running around looking for bigger and smaller pulleys to turn the blowers because the air here is awful. If you hit the combination, it runs because the blower makes enough boost to run it fast, but then the track's not good enough to hold at the other end. We're going to give it a good shot."

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "We're pretty happy with the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird. We made some changes to the clutch and the fuel system and it was real, real weak early. I could tell driving it that it wasn't going anywhere and then it just took off. That's what has us in the field so far. We're going to change a few things, nothing big, and just try to make it run a little bit better. If we can get this Pontiac in the 5.20s, we'll be pleased. We've got this thing hopped up so much up here that I don't even know if it would start at sea level - there's no air. We have the blower turned up so high and we still can't get the idle up high enough. We'll get it figured out. Everybody's having the same kind of problems." No. 17 qualifier

Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "We're still looking for the right combination on this Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird. We're turning the blower up higher and higher - I don't even know if I ever ran my alcohol blower this hard so I'm not quite sure where we are yet. We're just going to keep trying. That last run is the first time all weekend that we were able to keep all eight cylinders lit. But now of course the weather is as bad as it's been all weekend. We're still down on power, but we still have a couple of tricks up our sleeve. We're not out options yet. We'll go up on the nitro a little bit, put more timing in it and try it one more time. It's pretty tough up here. As soon as it gets hot up here the track gets tricky. If the temperature were in the 80s I think you'd see some better numbers from everybody. But when it's a hundred degrees like this it's hard." No. 16 qualifier - 5.345ET/250.37MPH

Del Worsham (Checkers Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We didn't want to drop out of the top half, and I'm really surprised we fell to 13th, but we did what we set out to do. After we came out yesterday and put a decent number up on the first pass, we smoked the tires twice. We wanted to get the CSK Firebird down the track and improve our performance. We did exactly that. We feel good about getting from A to B because that's what it will take to win tomorrow. We know we left a bunch on the table on that run, but I'd rather we did it this way than try to spin the planet out there and mess up. We'll be ready for Sunday." No. 13 qualifier - 5.195ET/284.75 MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We were truckin' a little bit better on that pass. It was more like a 5.10 or so. But we're spinning these blowers so hard up here in this altitude just trying to make power that the blower belts are having a hard time staying on. I've seen more belts break this weekend than the rest of the year put together. We tossed ours' off at about the 5.00-second mark so I was coasting for 17-hundredths. I was in there pedaling like Fred Flinstone trying to keep her going. I think we just need to come out tomorrow and be consistent. Consistency will win this race. I don't mind saying that I like our chances." No. 10 qualifier - 5.175ET/267.25MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Larry Morgan , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Terry Adams , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.