NOTES & QUOTES 30th ANNUAL MOPAR NATIONALS OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP RACEWAY PARK ENGLISHTOWN N.J. (May 22, 1999) Qualifying was completed today for the 30th annual Mopar Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is...
NOTES & QUOTES 30th ANNUAL MOPAR NATIONALS OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP RACEWAY PARK
ENGLISHTOWN N.J. (May 22, 1999) Qualifying was completed today for the 30th annual Mopar Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier going into Sunday eliminations. His GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird set both ends of the track record on Friday night with an elapsed time of 6.875 seconds at 201.58 mph. It is the seventh time this season that the four-time Winston champion has nailed down the top qualifying spot. Richie Stevens is second, Mark Pawuk is third, Steve Schmidt is fifth, Tom Martino is eighth, Jim Yates is ninth, Mike Thomas is 11th and Bruce Allen is 14th. George Marnell did not make the field.
In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson is the highest qualified Firebird in the No. 3 position with an elapsed time of 4.938 seconds at 306.40 mph. Cruz Pedregon's Interstate Batteries Firebird jumped up to the fifth spot today with a lap of 4.976 seconds at 308.43 mph. Al Hofmann's Firebird is eighth, Dale Creasy Jr. is 14th, Del Worsham is 15th and Gary Densham is 16th. The No. 1 qualifier is Tony Pedregon with an lapsed time of 4.904 seconds at 316.08 mph.
In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan is qualified No. 9 with an elapsed time of 4.607 seconds at 310.84 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Gary Scelzi who posted a lap of 4.550 seconds at 321.73 mph.
ESPN2 will televise two hours of first-round coverage on Sunday, May 23, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, and two hours of final-round coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We're going to have to take a look at that last run we made. We slipped the clutch pretty hard on the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird and it got off to the right hand side of the racetrack. We may have exceeded the life expectancy of one of the discs or something like that, but it's obviously something we can trace down. We'll be fine, the car's all right and we'll just have to make sure everything is fresh in it tomorrow morning and we'll be ready to go.
How do you feel about going back into first place in the points standings after this race? The object of this whole thing is to make a living out of it and to win the championship is just icing on the cake. Technically right now I'm in the points lead because I was eight points behind coming in here, Kurt didn't qualify, I qualified No. 1 and that's eight points right there. I'll get 20 points just by staging the car tomorrow morning. I'm really not at all happy about it because that car should be qualified and by not qualifying that's just money that's lost.
Any thoughts about the red light in the final round of the Dominator Duel? We just watched it on the video with the freeze frame, and the light was on before the tire moved so I'm not buying a .355 light but that's how it came up. The light had come on and was definitely going out and that will usually give you a .410 or a .420 light and it came up .355. I don't know whether it just jerked the front end up but it certainly wasn't the case of a guess. I saw it come on and we just got a red light out of it. No. 1 qualifier - 6.875ET/201.58MPH
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) Our approach to tomorrow depends on what kind of track we'll see and what kind of conditions are thrown at us. We've been working the chassis on this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird really, really hard the last two or three races trying to find a combination it likes. We found a lot of combinations it didn't like, but one of the problems we've encountered is that we've gone to so many racetracks that look so different. The difference between Richmond, Atlanta and here are like three completely different ends of the Earth as far as track conditions are concerned. Coming here we worked on it and worked on it, and went one way and kept going that way because we thought that was the way to go. But the car kept getting slower and slower, and we finally figured it out. So we turned around and went the other way and we were the No. 2 car to 60-foot of the session. Now we have to do a little bit of work on the transmission and the clutch. There's a lot left in it right now and once we get the 60-foots down then we can start running at the front of the pack. We replaced everything in the car last night and it basically went and ran the same in speed that it did last night. It didn't look like we changed anything at all. Then we started working on the tune up of the car with the timing and the fuel, and it came right around. The problem was that we weren't turning the right screws and had been off in left field. I think we're pretty close right now - maybe a click away on the chassis and maybe two clicks on the engine from being one of the top two cars. No. 9 qualifier - 6.923ET/199.02MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We ran good in the first session but for the last three races guys have killed me on the tree. The car's coming around, now I have to start doing my job. We changed engines this morning because we didn't run yesterday as well as we should have. The Summit Racing Firebird made a real good pass. The guys in the engine shop and the guys on the crew are doing a great job. All we have to do now is get the driver to do the same and this team will go some rounds. We were the second quickest car that session so it shows me that the car is going to be competitive. We were real fast on the first half of the racetrack and then fell off on the back half. We ran really good to the eighth mile. Now we just have to get ready for tomorrow. No. 3 qualifier - 6.908ET/199.76MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) It took us running poorly as we did yesterday to be able to make the drastic changes we made this morning that ultimately allowed us to have such a turnaround. We were so mad at our performance that we literally made every chassis adjustment we could think of from moving weight around to adjusting the height of the engine. Now we feel confident that the changes we to the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird will be very positive in the long run. It took us hitting rock bottom to have the courage to make these changes but now I'm glad we did.
Second Session: We are really starting to make some nice advancements with our program. The engine's running great and the chassis adjustments we made this morning seem to be just what we needed. On the last lap of the day we got a little crooked but that was through no fault of the car and it's definitely something we can fix. I'm as optimistic about our program right now as I've been all year. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, this weekend already represents another step in the right direction. We are closing in on making this Outlaw Pontiac Firebird a real contender. No. 14 qualifier - 6.960ET/`198.90MPH
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) The Pennzoil Firebird was extremely loose at the starting line and we just flat-out lost the race there. It's a bummer to work so hard at qualifying for this thing and then when it gets here you turn right around and lose in the first round. I can guarantee you that we will be involved in many more of these (Dominator Duel) over the years. Our time will come. Today just wasn't our day but maybe tomorrow will be.
Second Session: Things could be better, but on the other hand, things could be a lot worse. We switched motors at the start of the day and it's so much more powerful than the other one that we can't find the right clutch setting now. But tomorrow's another day and we should be pretty close to where we need to be by the time we get started. There are a few guys ahead of us in the points that didn't qualify here so we're already making up ground. I just wish we had run a little bit better today so we could have started with lane choice. Still, if we do everything right in the first round we'll be able to get right back in control of our destiny. No. 11 qualifier - 6.934ET/198.88MPH
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) This morning's run we can't really blame the car. The track fooled us a little bit. It looked better than what it really was and we should have known. We race here all the time. When it looks that way and it's that temperature, it's not as good as it looks. We did something today that we don't usually do - we let Warren Johnson influence our strategy. That's only the second time since I've been racing Pro Stock that I let the guy I'm racing influence how we set the car up. He made a good run and he was good on the tree. I think we could have gone 6.95 and unfortunately we may have beat him if we would've just gone with what we knew works. We came back this afternoon and made a pretty decent run after changing the engine tune up. Even though we made a good run we went the wrong way with it. The Century 21 Firebird started and was going off the page and when our horsepower kicked in it just fell off. We ran faster this morning on the back half shaking the tires than we did tonight. We probably wouldn't have run a 6.92 with some of those other guys, but I'm confident we could have run a high 6.93 or a low 6.94. That would have made us three of four of the session and that's all we are. At least we came back and ran a respectable time and it wasn't like we got lucky on Friday. Hey, I'm in the field and I'm racing at Englishtown. It doesn't get much better than that. No. 8 qualifier - 6.923ET/199.02MPH
Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) The car died right as I pre-staged. I got it restarted but it threw me off and you just can't have any mistakes at all against Warren Johnson. I'm still very proud to have qualified for the Dominator Duel and to have won a round my first time out.
I know it's a real honor to participate and I give all the credit to my dad and the Valspar crew. This day was for them. They earned it as much if not more than I did. Next time around I'll have to do better and reward everyone with a win. No. 2 qualifier - 6.893ET/199.32MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) That first run was exactly what we were looking for. It was even more impressive when you consider it was done in the middle of the day. Last night would have been an awesome run as well. Wes (Cerny) had this Firebird hopped up and ready to go and everyone was looking forward to making a pass under the night time conditions, but unfortunately we had a throttle linkage come undone. We made up for it today though, and if you consider the conditions we were running in, we're looking pretty good for tomorrow. This is what it's going to be like. The No. 1 qualifying position is not entirely out of reach. We haven't had it yet this year, but the Interstate Batteries Pontiac is running good, and hopefully we can get a good solid run in tonight and then come back tomorrow and go some rounds. No. 5 qualifier - 4.976ET/308.43MPH
Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We made a great pass last night and I'm not even sure that's what we had planned to do. It seems that when we back it down it goes faster, and when we want to go faster we smoke the tires. We went up there this morning and backed it off a little bit, got faster numbers early, and it would have been a good run, but I didn't keep it in the groove. When it went to lock up the clutch, it puffed the tires, squirted out of the groove and then I just shut it off. We'll take the JCIT Pontiac Firebird back up there, move some clutch discs around and see if we can't slide it in the back half. Our goal is to learn how to go down the racetrack and make the other guy beat us. No. 3 qualifier - 4.938ET/306.40MPH
Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) The Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird was running real good, and then it got out there at about 800 feet and started moving around, so I knew it was spinning the tires. Before I left the starting line, I was told to get it to the finish line and I did, but I hurt it. I think we burnt some pistons. We're going to sit the last session out and try and hang on because we're running out of parts. We have four races in three weeks so we have to conserve what we have left.
No. 14 qualifier - 5.152ET/290.88MPH
Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We got up there this morning after no one had got down the lane we were going to run in, and weren't real confident that we could, let alone improve on our 5.01 from last night. In case no one has noticed, we really don't have a sponsor on the car except for Pontiac, so we talked it over and decided we would just sit out and save the parts. Last night, we just left it alone from the first session. We did put a new set of tires on it, but other than that, we didn't change anything else. We had a little bit of an engine problem when we got down towards the end. This is an older engine we've had sitting on the trailer for a long time, and it blacked a couple of main bearings down there - it looks like it ran out of fuel. It got a little out of shape, but everything else looked good and it was a decent run given the conditions. We'll try and go out tonight and maintain lane choice because it looks like it's going to be critical tomorrow. No. 8 qualifier - 5.014ET/296.83MPH
Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We improved, technically, that lap, but in reality we didn't. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird got out there a long way before it lit the tires. I caught it pretty quickly, and it was running pretty good until it chewed up three pistons down there. We got lucky, flat out lucky, to make it in the show 15th. But the fact that some good cars finished behind us tells you it was a tough deal out there. If we could get this car past the trouble spot out there, where I've had to pedal it twice this weekend, it would run way up in the top half. We've got all night to think about it and we've got to figure something out. We race some guy named Force in round one. No. 15 qualifier - 5.162ET/266.90MPH