Englishtown: Pontiac Racing Notes & Quotes

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 20, 2000) - Pro Stock qualifying for the 31st annual Matco Tools Spring Supernationals was completed today at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, but the Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters will run one more session ...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 20, 2000) - Pro Stock qualifying for the 31st annual Matco Tools Spring Supernationals was completed today at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, but the Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters will run one more session tomorrow beginning at 11 a.m.

In the fastest Pro Stock field in NHRA history, Richie Stevens' Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird jumped to the No. 2 position with a run in the final qualifying session of 6.840 seconds at 200.23 mph. Mark Pawuk also improved today by placing the Summit Racing Firebird in the No. 3 spot with a run of 6.841 seconds at 199.91 mph. Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird is qualified fifth, Ron Krisher is sixth, Brad Jeter is seventh, Jim Yates is eighth, Tom Martino is ninth, Greg Anderson is 11th, Bruce Allen is 15th, George Marnell was 17th and Jamie Yates was 18th. The No. 1 qualifier was Jeg Coughlin Jr. in an Oldsmobile with an elapsed time of 6.822 seconds at 200.68 mph. The No. 16 spot in this record-setting field was Kurt Johnson who covered the quarter mile in 6.880 seconds at 201.01 mph.

After two qualifying sessions in Funny Car, Jim Epler is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.947 seconds at 278.06 mph. Jerry Toliver is qualified second, Dean Skuza is third, Whit Bazemore is fourth and Cruz Pedregon is fifth in the Mac Tools Firebird. Del Worsham is qualifed sixth in the CSK Firebird, Frank Pedregon is ninth, Gary Densham is 10th, Al Hofmann is 11th, Cristen Powell is 13th, Todd Paton is 14th, Dale Creasy Jr. is 15th and Bruce Sarver is 17th.

In Top Fuel, MBNA/Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is qualified sixth with an elapsed time of 4.715 seconds at 20.32 mph. Larry Dixon is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.644 seconds at 311.70 mph. Joe Amato is second, David Grubnic is third, Tony Schumacher is fourth and Doug Herbert is fifth.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Pontiac Firebird) - "First things first - get qualified and then prepare to race. We just had one of those glitches in the first round of qualifying yesterday that was our fault. Today we made a change for the last qualifying pass. We knew we weren't going to get bumped out, and that we might get knocked down a couple of places given the weather conditions, so we decided to try it now just to make sure we wouldn't have to try it during eliminations. It didn't work so we won't do it tomorrow. But we're in good shape. The GM Goodwrench Service Firebird can run low 6.80s all day long. Tomorrow I don't see much of a change in the weather. It might be a little warmer, but the humidity will be the same and overall we can pretty much expect the same conditions."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "With the rain we don't have a very consistent base line to run against. The weather has changed so much over the course of the weekend and the track has changed so much that we haven't been able to get into a rhythm. When we get into a flow our program usually does pretty well. This weekend we've kind of been in and out - with the rain we don't know if we're going to run or not and it makes it difficult to make the right calls. This morning we went out after making a decent run yesterday, tuned up the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird and made a pretty good run. I had trouble keeping the car in the groove and I thought the 6.85 we ran was pretty good. We didn't do much of anything to adjust the car because we felt that if we could get it to go straight through the groove we would run a 6.84 or 6.83. The track was about the same, the air was about the same and we felt real confident that we would get it done. We missed something. The car developed a malfunction. It didn't do anything stupid, the e.t. was just off by six or seven hundredths. We're going to do a complete electrical drill on it, change the battery and everything else in the car and find the right piece that's broken. Right now it has our attention. The way everybody was running we thought that we might have a shot at the pole. The cars kept getting faster and faster and I thought we would end up with the top two cars. The 6.82 that Jeg ran was pretty good but I thought we could run at least a 6.83. I know that was there and a 6.82 wasn't out of the question. Now we're on the other spectrum with a car that's not running very fast at all. We had a fat pitch to hit and missed it. That's disappointing because it was there for the taking. That was a heck of an opportunity for us to show how fast we could run and you don't get too many opportunities like that."

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "This morning we burned the clutch out of it, so we had to put in a completely different unit in the car. When we did that, we changed the style of clutch we were using, so tonight's set-up was our best guess. Even though it was a little light, we still ran 6.86 at over 200 mph on an okay run. Although we're never sure how the track will be after the fuel cars run on it, lane choice should not be a deciding factor. One lane might be a little better, but if we do our job, we can win from the bad lane. We'll take the information from tonight's run and fine-tune it. Trust me - the Century 21 Firebird will be fast tomorrow."

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We feel real good tonight. The Dynagear Pontiac Firebird is doing a good job right now. We've were testing this week down at Darlington on Tuesday and Wednesday and feel that we made some significant gains in the car. The motors are pretty much the same. Steve's (Schmidt) been working on them, and working on them, and even though it looks like we haven't had any power, actually there's been a good deal wrong with the car. We just haven't had a chance to test it. Since we've been able to test for two days we've really been able to pick up a lot of ground towards catching the field. We're planning on testing for two more days before Dallas. We're definitely stepping up a little at a time, hopefully we'll be a top-five car again soon and be able to race at a more competitive level. It's just a matter of fine tuning the racecar now. Before we've been having to make big jumps with the car and it hasn't responded like we've wanted it to. Finally we hit a happy medium testing the car this week and we're really happy with what's going on with it right now. Hopefully we'll be able to tune on it a little more and make it even more consistent. I feel confident about the race tomorrow. I've been hitting the tree pretty well all weekend and that's one thing I always strive for. That's what it will take tomorrow - consistency and hitting the tree on time and I think I'll rise to the occasion."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) "We had ideal conditions and a perfect car with a powerful engine. It made it easy to run a career lap like that. And not to sound conceited but we have room for improvement. I shifted into fourth gear too early and that definitely cost us a little time. If not for my little mistake, that was a great, great lap for our Valspar Firebird. The nice thing is that we ran that lap with the back-up motor we got from Mike Thomas and Rick Hickman. Rick did a great job putting that thing together and he should get all the credit. I called him as soon as I got back to the pit to thank him. We started the weekend with that motor because we thought we were going to run Kurt Johnson in the Holley Dominator Duel and, because of our agreement, we wouldn't be able to use the engine Warren (Johnson) normally let's us use. But it still worked out great. It's too bad we couldn't have run it today when we were at our best. But who knows, we might be running even stronger by then. The entire Valspar crew is doing a great job. Tommy Utt (crew chief) has this car running so strong. He had the clutch set-up so perfectly that I hardly had to steer the car. It was that smooth. I feel so good about this team, the car, and the engine situation. Everything is working great. When you run career-bests with your back-up engine you know things are good."

FUNNY CAR

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "Jim (Dunn) actually did a lot better job than I did that time - his tune up was right on target. I was so worried about the car smoking the tires right at the hit, and not getting in that I shaved off a couple of hundredths by grabbing the brake too hard. But I just wanted to do what I had to do to get this Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird in the field. Jim did a real good job. I felt that if we could just get this car to the end that it would put up a good enough number. That way if there's a problem, and we don't get another round then at lest we're not outside looking in. We need to qualify this Pontiac at every race. We're trying to go in the right direction, and even though the weather's throwing us a curve, Jim's been able to keep up with it."

Cruz Pedregon (Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We're glad the Mac Tools Firebird is in the field obviously but were testing right now. Our goal is to make the motor come to life a little bit more. We had to change motors last night so our goal right now is to get the motor has eight strong cylinders and see if we can keep them all lit for the next run. That run there was a lost cylinder right at the hit so we couldn't really gauge anything off that one. We'll tear it apart, look at it and go from there. We ran at the tail end of the first session so our goal is to get the car back together and try to make another attempt tonight. We're a new team, and the guys are great individually, but one of the things we're trying to accomplish is just to get used to working with each other - servicing the car in the allotted time and things like that. The main thing right now is to figure out why we put that cylinder out right at the hit."

Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California Pontiac Firebird) - "All things considered our first run today wasn't that bad. Obviously we had the NEC Firebird detuned, and had to drive this place like a match race track, with the brake on to halftrack and half throttle and everything else. But we knew we had to get down through there no matter what happened and the guys did a great job. If we get another shot tonight maybe we can step on it a little bit and see what this car can do. Sometimes all those years of learning how to race in less than perfect conditions can help you and that's what happened today. We had to take a shot at it that way -- although some guys were able to cook on through there after getting the tune up right and run a little better than us, so maybe we can go for it next time."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Greg Anderson , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Todd Paton , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Jerry Toliver , Cristen Powell