Denver: Pre-race notes and quotes

"This is such an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Shirley Muldowney," said the 30-year-old Savoie. "I don't think I ever could have imagined this in my wildest dreams, but I think I would trade these 18 wins in for the three NHRA...

"This is such an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Shirley Muldowney," said the 30-year-old Savoie. "I don't think I ever could have imagined this in my wildest dreams, but I think I would trade these 18 wins in for the three NHRA Winston championships (Muldowney) won."

KENNY BERNSTEIN ON DENVER, HIS 2001 SEASON, AND CREW CHIEF TIM RICHARDS: "Tim has given me a great horse to ride this season," said the 56-year-old Bernstein. "We are having a lot of fun. It's a great feeling knowing that every time you pull to the starting line you are going to be right in the hunt and have a good chance of being able to win. I've learned one thing about Tim: Once he's onto a tune-up combination, he just sort of picks away at it.

"This strategy has enabled us to make a lot of consistent runs down the racetrack and has allowed us to go lots of rounds, and that's what wins races, and ultimately Winston championships.

"It's too early to say who will be on the podium at the end of the season. The competition is fierce and there's already a lot of seesawing back and forth in victories and points, and we expect it to continue to be that way until the end of the season.

"Most people point to the West Coast swing (Denver, Seattle, Sonoma, Calif.) as a pivotal part of the season. I think that's true. If you get behind, you can get way behind and it's hard to recuperate a lot of lost points. The Denver tune-up is a one-off. We don't race with that combination at any other track. But Denver has a lot of points at stake, so you better be in for the distance."

WORSHAM AND PEDREGON GO JURASSIC: In a joint promotional project between Worsham Racing, Checker-Schuck's-Kragen, Universal Studios, and Action Collectibles, Del Worsham and Frank Pedregon will be driving special one-race-only Pontiac Firebirds featuring graphics from the Universal Studios movie "Jurassic Park 3" during the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver.

The drivers also will be wearing special one-race "Jurassic Park" firesuits and helmets at the Denver race. The cars will be available in 24th scale die-cast form through CSK stores and via their toll-free phone line at 1-877-SHOP-CSK.

WINSTON CHAMP JEG COUGHLIN BACK IN THE HUNT: Defending Winston pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. won the recent pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals in Pomona, Calif., moving him into third place in the Winston standings trailing Warren Johnson and Jim Yates.

"We gained some rounds on Warren and Yates this weekend," said Coughlin after the win. "To kick off the 'Western Swing' and to celebrate the NHRA's 50th anniversary (with a win) is just spectacular. I can't think of a better way to celebrate NHRA's 50th anniversary then with a packed house with fans 10-deep at the fence. It was a great win for Team Jeg's and NHRA Winston Drag Racing put on the best race that I have ever been involved with. It is a win that I will always remember.

"Pro Stock is so tough and competitive this year. I've lost some races by less than a hundredth of a second, and I actually won a couple of rounds (in Pomona) buy less then a hundredth of a second.

"The points race tightened up and we're back in the thick of things. We never felt we were to far out but (the Pomona win) helped tremendously. We're pretty excited about that. We've got a couple of good summer tracks coming up and we feel we've got a good setup for them. You go from a mile high in Denver to the crisp, clean air of Seattle, then back to California in Sonoma. We had our best summer swing last year and we didn't win any of the races. We hope to come out with four wins this year - that's our goal. We feel we are capable of it. We would certainly like to get some wins under our belts before we get to Brainerd (Minn.)."

HINES ON RECENT PERFORMANCE: Three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Hines started the season off strong jumping out to the early points lead. Recently though, the Trinidad, Colo., resident has been struggling and has slipped to third in the standings.

"The Vance & Hines Eagle One Suzuki has a couple of wins, but lately, it hasn't been performing up to expectations," said Hines. "We know there's more horsepower in there. We have to find it and make it work the rest of the season. We've got a carbon fiber body (weight saving of 15 pounds) coming and that should help. We know we should be able to run with anybody."

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL CARS ON NHRA HEAT: Television coverage of the Nostalgia Top Fuel cars and other nostalgia exhibition vehicles that performed at the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels will be presented during the NHRA Heat program July 19 on ESPN2.

NHRA Heat will air that day at 6 p.m. (ET) and repeat at 6 a.m. (EST) Saturday, July 21.

WARREN JOHNSON ON WHAT HE ENJOYS ABOUT PRO STOCK RACING: "Everybody knows that driving the car is the least most important part to me," said the 58-year-old Johnson. "Figuring out the combination on what it takes to go quicker and faster than anybody else is the challenge for me.

"It's just like when they have cooking contests, where they have different chefs with the same ingredients, and they try to decide who ends up with the better dish out of the deal. That's what we're in. We've all have the same parts. GM provides the same parts to everybody, and to me the challenge is to come up with the most amount of reliable horsepower to get the job done.

"The driving part of it just comes with the territory. Sooner or later, preferably sooner, we will find someone that can drive the way I want it driven. There are a lot of people out there that think they're racecar drivers but they don't have a clue. They can let the clutch out, but they will probably smack both walls before they're at the eighth-mile. At the same time today's arena is completely different than it was five or ten years ago.

"Driving the racecar is probably the least important part of it. Media coverage, ability to transfer information to the team, along with other things are stuff that people don't think about when it comes to being a driver."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham