PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MOPAR NATIONALS FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1998 ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We basically just misjudged the track in the first round, but a lot of people did too. ...
PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MOPAR NATIONALS FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1998 ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We basically just misjudged the track in the first round, but a lot of people did too. We came back, got close that time, but just underestimated the track. It was just a little better than we anticipated, but we’re in a good spot—we’re not going to get bumped out. It will be hotter tomorrow and we at least have a place to strike from. We’re going to be all right. We probably could have run around what Kurt (Johnson) did (6.906), we just missed the track a little bit. We’re usually better off being on the conservative side than being too aggressive out there because you can shake these things and what not, and then you have to abort the run. We gave up maybe a hundredth or two, but we know we can fix that as long as the track doesn’t change drastically. No. 6 qualifier —6.929ET/200.00MPH
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We’ve done a lot of testing on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. Bob Ingles rebuilt the engine back in New York, got us some more horsepower and found some problems. We had a couple of cracked pistons after Dallas, so we’re just trying to dial in the combination. It was real fast this afternoon, but this evening we just kind of missed it a little. The guy I raced had some trouble backing up and I ended up sitting on the starting line for 30 seconds. That was just enough time for my tires to cool down. It hurt me a couple of hundredths in my 60 foot times, and it probably would have run a 6.91 or 6.92. That’s just the way it is. We’re going to work on the car tomorrow and try and win that $50,000 Pro Stock Challenge. We’re really looking forward to that. It’s a lot of fun, that’s racing for a lot of money and everybody will have their game face on. It will be interesting tomorrow and I’m pretty excited right now. No. 7 qualifier—6.936ET/198.70MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) The Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird left pretty good and then I felt the front end dancing, kind of dangling out there because it was running over little bitty bumps. The front end stays up just a little bit; the car has great balance. It laid down just a tiny bit, but it still went 316. We never go out and try to set low ET. Wes just wants a car that he knows I’m going to be comfortable with. There’s no backing off, or no go for it in his vocabulary. He knows what the track will take, uses a setup that he knows, and whatever it runs, it runs. I kind of like that because that’s why you’re seeing a consistent car that will run 4.89 or 4.90 every time out. That’s just Wes’s game plan. The only time we’ve been off is when something hasn’t worked right, but overall, this season so far has just been phenomenal. Wes deserves all the credit. The first run is crucial because that gives us another opportunity to really go for it, so watch out. If it doesn’t make it, then it’s no big deal because we were just trying to take advantage of the conditions. I hope to see a very big number.
No. 1 qualifier The Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird team rose to the occasion on that run considering what Force and Capps did. We changed a bunch of things before qualifying run that Wes (Cerny) didn’t like. The equipment hadn’t even been down the race track, but he did say that it would be aggressive. And when he say’s it’s aggressive, it’s aggressive. It was a move it over setup because the car was jumping around, I had the wheels up and we were spinning the tires. We were jumping up and down, and Wes was excited but not elated, because I think he felt that there might be a 4.70 in the car. We’ve had a 4.81 and he is a very competitive person. This makes for exciting racing I can tell you that.
We were definitely nervous after Capps ran that 4.86. But after realizing how well we ran in the first round without any kind of gauge at all on the race track, we realized that we could still take away the No. 1 spot. I would have been happy with 4.85 or 4.86, but when that 4.83 jumped up, that was great. This Firebird has magic, and it reminds of the car we had in 1992 when we won the championship. It does more than we ask of it, it goes a little bit quicker and a little bit faster than what we think it will go. I give the credit to Wes Cerny and the entire crew. 4.832ET/313.15MPH
Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck’s/Kragens Pontiac Firebird) Well, this is a learning curve, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a new chassis with a new body on top of it. It’s gonna run like a bandit when we get it dialed in, but we’re obviously not there yet. The first session, it smoked the tires right at the hit, we were just way off. This time, it really wanted to go and from the seat I thought it was going to make it, but we lost traction out there around 300 feet or so. I guess you have to look at that and know it’s progress, but we need to go 1320 feet. If it will do that, it will post a good number. We had the car on the track in Phoenix last weekend, but that really doesn’t help us much here. For a match race, you have to soften it up so much just to make sure it can go down the track. Here, you’ve got to step up and run like you mean it or you’re not going to make the show, so we’re really starting from scratch with this new Firebird. No. 19 qualifier—10.384ET/84.94MPH Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We were a little afraid of the race track on the first run. Cruz (Pedregon) went up there and ran 4.89 and that kind of opened our eyes. The JCIT Pontiac Firebird kind of looked like his. It was a little slow at the beginning and then it started moving pretty good at the other end. I think that may be the secret to this place, although tonight could be another story. The car locked the clutch up. When it did that, it scooted towards the wall, and I was trying to steer it the best that I could. It didn’t seem like it was going to come back, so I shut it off right at the MPH lights. It may have run a hundredth or two quicker, but not much. To run that fast right out of the box really takes the pressure off. We started using some new clutch disks in Dallas, and it kind of showed when we struggled the first couple of runs, but we finally got a handle on it. We came here with the same deal, hit the gas and it ran right on through there. The car looks like it’s going to be pretty good. No. 4 qualifier—4.963ET/307.58MPH Dale Creasy, Jr. (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) We were happy with that run, especially with the way things ended for us last weekend. There’s a lot more left in this Pontiac Firebird and it will go faster. It left the line good, but it’s been a little bit lazy. We have it set up that way because it has a tendency to shake the tires. We know it will run better but when we change it, it starts shaking. We just want to get down the race track. That’s the fastest we’ve ever gone. We’re running the ‘98 Firebird body and it’s a little lighter and has better downforce. We can definitely go quicker. No. 14 qualifier—5.119ET/294.56MPH
Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) The early numbers were fair, at least for what the ET was. The Parts America Pontiac Firebird started mixing up cylinders just past half track and that’s why it didn’t run any better than it did. Overall, it wasn’t bad, especially if we can pick up a tenth tonight. It’s good to run a decent number though first time out of the box because that puts us in the show. Now we just have to go to work and try and catch Cruz. No. 11 qualifier—5.087ET/288.09MPH
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