Englishtown Pontiac Final Report

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MOPAR NATIONALS SUNDAY, MAY 17, 1998 ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) The only gremlins that kept the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird out of the winner’s circle ...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MOPAR NATIONALS SUNDAY, MAY 17, 1998 ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) The only gremlins that kept the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird out of the winner’s circle were us. We just really didn’t get adapted to this race track, and it was a little hotter than what we’ve been experiencing. We made some changes the other day and we seemed to go in the right direction. We looked like we were in pretty good shape in the first round, we just chose the wrong lane. Then we switched back and got a little gun shy. We went back to our standard setup because we lost the computer on the two runs we made with the other setup, so we had no data to confirm any performance characteristics. We figured we would just go back to a setup we were comfortable with for that last run. We ran a 6.97, but we lost two hundredths at 60 feet, and we had no way assessing where that setup was. It’s just a matter of where we’ll have to go out and test it. The weather didn’t really throw us a curve because we knew it was coming, other than the fact that we hadn’t run under these conditions. We’ve only had two test sessions with this car since we got it in December, so once we get some more track time, we’ll be fine. Lost in round two

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) Racing in Chicago is going to be fun. It’s always fun to go to a first time event. The people are usually pretty excited because they haven’t been exposed to drag racing in person, so they get an opportunity to view it live for the first time. Nobody will have run on the track, so it will be the same for everybody and nobody will have any information. It will be a level playing field, we’ll all make a baseline run, and then come back and get ready for the Friday night battle.

Over the course of the last few months, we have changed a lot of things on the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird, and when you change them you think that they are all for the better. But when you take a step back and look at things objectively, it doesn’t look like it’s doing so well. We’ll go back to the way we ran the car last year, which is more of a setup that we’re used to. It’s real important to get that first run on Friday to get that baseline and then adjust for the Friday night session. We’ll make some runs this week, test a little bit, and get this thing straightened out. What we really need to do is get our car to leave the starting line better and improve our 60 and 330 foot times. Power wise, we’ve got enough to run good, we’re just not making the run. It’s frustrating to run like this when you’re capable of doing much better.

Tom Martino (Six Flags Pontiac Firebird) Naturally, we’re upset, but the Six Flags Pontiac Firebird ran better this weekend than it has in a while. We had two great passes today, but it’s hard to overcome the times run in the cooler temperatures last night. I guess I just didn’t have as goo of a hold of the line lock button, and the car rolled forward, tripping the clock. It’s too bad, because it looks like it would have been about a mid 6.90 run. We’ll just take the improvements from here and build on them in Chicago.

FUNNY CAR

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We’ve been fighting the good air/good track tune-up in the JCIT Pontiac Firebird since we started this year. We made some changes for Friday night and that didn’t work. We came back with our normal tune-up on Saturday and the car worked really well. Now the air again was good this morning, the track was good, so in the first round we tried our normal deal and it didn’t work. We came back in the second round and tried to step up. We don’t have 5000 runs in our archives to tune from.

All we have is what I know, what our crew members know, and what Skippy and Gary know. We changed it and it would have been a 4.86 or 4.87. Unfortunately, the clutch just wasn’t quite right. It got down through there and ruined it. I had my foot on the floor until the car stopped moving and the motor was spinning at about 10,000 so I’m lucky it didn’t blow up. It never locked up. It threw the clutch out at about three seconds so for a second and a half, I had my foot to the floor and it wasn’t moving. The motor was just screaming! It would have been a good race. You have to take your hats off to those guys. We knew we couldn’t go up there and run 5-flat and win the race. I wish we would have, but that’s hindsight. Lost in round two Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) First thing we need to do is change the clutch program around on the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird because we’re having a hard time at the 1.2 spot out there. We’ve always had a hard time there and the car runs pretty good other than that. We didn’t hurt any parts this weekend, everything worked pretty well, we maybe didn’t change lanes when we should have. But second guessing is easy.

The car wasn’t that far off to spin the tires the way it did. We’ll get it ironed out though and ready for Chicago. The weather changed kind of threw us a curve because we know what to do to change for the air. We went out this morning with the same RPM and everything, the blower had a lot more boost, we had a lot more power and the car was a little bit more edgy.

Next time we go out, we’ll know what to do. We’re out there punching it the best that we can and sooner or later, we’re going to get her nailed down.

Randy Anderson (Parts America PontiacFirebird) If I hadn’t red lighted, our car probably would have blown up. The fuel shut-off started closing after two seconds, and if I had driven it hard for the entire quarter mile, we could have had a dangerous situation on our hands. Once I realized I was disqualified, I shut it off early. It just goes to show you that everything happens for a reason. Tim’s (Wilkerson) car has been running very well, so I tried to have a perfect light, but I was too aggressive and beat the light. Obviously we’re disappointed. We came in here pretty confident, but we enter every race knowing that we’re capable of winning. We really feel leaving Englishtown that the Parts America Pontiac Firebird is oh so close to breaking out. There’s no excuse for the red light, but we’ll learn from this experience and go on from here. I think we’re all excited about hitting Chicago for the first time. It’s the nation’s third largest market, and it’s going to give us some opportunities in that area that we haven’t had before. It’s going to be a tremendous event, and everyone’s looking forward to it. Lost in round one

TOP FUEL

Shelly Anderson (Parts America/Pontiac) We’re really pleased to see those kind of runs again. It’s been awhile, but I think we’re getting back in the game, and I’m looking forward to some victories as we move into the second half of the season. We we’re looking forward to our first semifinal round of the season, so we’re a little disappointed, but we had a pretty solid weekend, and I feel like we’re back on track. We hope for a strong performance in Joliet later this month, and if our car runs like it has been lately I think we’ll do well. In the first round, the Parts America Pontiac stepped up and made the best run we’ve made all year. That’s exactly the kind of run you want to make in eliminations. In the second round against McClenathan, we had a problem in the clutch and that’s why it smoked the tires. But it’s nice to know that we know what it is this time, unlike the first four races of the year. Hopefully in Chicago, we’ll run better, qualify better and be more consistent. Lost in round two

Cory McClenathan (McDonald’s/Pontiac) There’s a lot to be said for running consistent. The McDonald’s Pontiac may not be the fastest race car out there, but if we can stay consistent, it keeps the other guys a little nervous thinking about what we’ll do next We’re no better than anybody else out here, we’re just getting the breaks when we need them. I’ll take it anyway I can get it right now. The points battle isn’t going to change that much from No. 1 and No. 2. Either I’ll be 20 more points ahead of Joe (Amato) or 20 less points ahead. There’s a lot of race season left, but I tell you, it’s getting real exciting real early. These are the same breaks that we didn’t get last year at this time. Everybody is starting to call me "Horseshoe" McClenathan. But you know something, I’ll take it as long as I can get it.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Shelly Anderson