Englishtown Pontiac Saturday Notes

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 MOPAR NATIONALS SATURDAY, MAY 16, 1998 ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) I’m happy that Kurt (Johnson) won the "Challenge" since we couldn’t win it. The object...



Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) I’m happy that Kurt (Johnson) won the "Challenge" since we couldn’t win it. The object of us qualifying on opposite sides of the ladder was so we wouldn’t have to race each other. That way we would have the potential of having one of us win and the other runner-up, or at least one of us would have a better possibility of winning. He accomplished the deed. The weekend in general hasn’t been too bad. We need to pick up the performance of our GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird, but we had one of the quickest runs in the final session, so at least we made a step in the right direction. I feel that we’ll be in pretty good shape tomorrow. When the tracks were cool, nobody could touch us. Now, with this power level that we have, we’re having trouble applying that power to the race track. That’s the problem; trying to calm this thing down to the point where we can get it down the race track successfully every run. You see that in the fuel cars, except their failures are more spectacular because they go up in smoke instantly. Our cars turn the tire and the gear changes too hard. It’s one of those subliminal things where you see the car not running as fast as it should be, but from a spectators standpoint, you can’t see why. No. 6 qualifier—6.929ET/200.00MPH(track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We missed a great opportunity to put this Splitfire Pontiac Firebird higher up in the field last night. We came here in the first session, were No. 2 down the track, and felt like we had a good combination. Then the guy I was racing last night had a problem at the starting line, and I ended up sitting for 30 seconds. The tires got cold, we ended up spinning them, and that put us in the seventh spot. I think the car has a lot more potential than that it’s shown, it felt like that today when we ran the first round this morning and I felt we would be in pretty good shape as the day wore on. Then this afternoon, the car was on a pretty good run; we changed the combination on it a little bit--changed the four-link around, changed the shocks, and the car just got a little bit out of the groove. It got a little slick and it got away from me a little bit. I had to pedal it around the eighth-mile. Kurt was beside me, and with all that money on the table, I didn’t want to let off. We’re going to come back, analyze the data and see if we can’t win some rounds tomorrow. We’re just one element away from finding a combination that will get this car down the track when it’s hot. We’re really searching for that slick track combination. No. 7 qualifier—6.936ET/198.70MPH

George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) We’re racing tomorrow and we’re happy about that, but we haven’t had a lot of luck with motors this weekend. The Tenneco Pontiac Firebird kicked out a rod in the first round of the Pro Stock Challenge and that was disappointing. We stuck this motor in and it’s got a little bit of a problem that we’re trying to get straightened out. It wants to flatten out a little bit on us. We’re trying to run through that, figure out what the problem is, hopefully get things ironed out for tomorrow, and give these guys some competition. We’ve had absolutely no problem getting down the track at anytime this weekend. The car is doing a marvelous job as far as that is concerned. We shook a little bit going into second gear on our last pass, but that Firebird just moved on through there—even on a slick track it did a great job! No. 11 qualifier—6.967ET/196.79MPH

Steve Schmidt (DynaGear Pontiac Firebird) We had a good day. Obviously I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the Pro Stock Challenge, but my crew did an awesome job, and we had the best light in the first two rounds. The driver didn’t do as good as he should have in the final round, but I’m not so sure I could have handled that 6.97. Kurt did a heckuva job, he’s a good competitor, he had a great run and he just out ran us. The parachutes got tangled up in the wheelie bars in the second round, and the track was hot enough that when I got on the brakes real hard, the car wanted to slide. I pumped the brakes and I just ran out of race track. I felt that going into the trap was the best alternative to save my car. For the final round, I had a lot of people that came over and helped us out. Bruce Allen, Larry Bigel, Jerry Haas; just a lot of guys that came to the rescue, got her patched up and did a heckuva job. No. 10 qualifier—6.956ET/198.35MPH--Runner Up Pro Stock Challenge

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) It was a one shot deal Friday night, and if you didn’t make a good run, you’re not racing on Sunday. We’ve run real consistent all weekend. We would have been in the top-16 every run we made, so I think we’re starting to get a grip on things with the new group we have. Everyone on the team has been working real hard and doing a good job. We would love to see this Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird in the winner’s circle tomorrow. The right lane used to be real good here, but I think lanes have changed now, and depending on an oil down or something like that, it could go either way. I haven’t really made my mind up yet as to which lane we’ll go in because we’ve run good in both. We made a real good hit in the right lane on Friday night. It definitely helps to have lane choice, some tracks more than others, so we’ll try to take advantage of the situation, and go as many rounds as we can. We’ve done a good job figuring the track out, crunching numbers and trying to find a combination that’s going to work. It’s not supposed to be as hot tomorrow so it could be a totally different deal. My entire has crew has worked hard and done a great job. No. 8 qualifier—6.944ET/198.58MPH


Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck’s/Kragens Pontiac Firebird) I can’t tell you how disappointed I am about this, all of us are. These guys worked so hard today, we had a bunch of little gremlins pop op on us between rounds today, and they overcame them all. And I don’t want to sound like any kind of an excuse, because we had this car back together and ready to go when we got to the starting line. The gremlins weren’t the problem once we got it up there. We just have to learn how this new car handles, how it accepts changes, how it reacts to things, and how it wants to run. I can tell you now that you can’t underestimate the complexity of switching cars like this from one race to he next. People are going to wonder how we go from running 4.98 one race to not making the field in the next. But I don’t think it’s really that much of a mystery. We made a decision for the future by switching to this new car, and I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that we have to dial it in before it’s going to perform. It’s the old line about taking a step backward to take two steps ahead. It’s no fun, actually it stinks, but everything will come together with this new car. There’s no quit in this group, and we’re looking at the long range picture with this program. In the end, I think we’ll be better off for having gone through this. No. 19 qualifier Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We really don’t feel that the track is that bad. We just felt that last night, we were so far over center the backwards way that there was no way it would go down the race track. We decided to take it back out because we had the snotty track setup in place and the track ended up being incredibly good. After looking at our first run, we decided that the track wasn’t that bad at all and that we needed to go up there a little more stout than our first run. The JCIT Pontiac Firebird obviously showed some improvement, even though we put a hole out down towards the end and I stepped off it a bit early. It probably would have run a little better if I would’ve run it all the way through, but there was no sense in that because I knew it was on a good pass to that point. We’re going to try and do it again, and if we can do it two times in a row, that will prove to me that we have a race day setup. No. 4 qualifier—4.951ET/307.58MPH Dale Creasy, Jr. (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) We’re going to save our parts tonight and then go out tomorrow and lean on it pretty good, see if we can’t do something good with this Pontiac Firebird. We ran well in the hottest part of the day on Friday, so if the conditions remain the same, we should run just as well. If the conditions change, we’ll be equally prepared. We’ve got John Force again in the first round, and one of these times, we’re going to take him out. If we can get by the first round, look out, anything is possible. No. 15 qualifier—5.119ET/294.56MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) We really shouldn’t wait to the last round to get qualified. This GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird really runs good and we know it will run 4.81, 4.80 or maybe even 4.79. It’s in there. We took 2 whole percent of nitro out of it and it still ran 5-flat. That gives you an idea of how much power this car will make. We went out in the first round yesterday and tried to get it dialed in, but it dropped a cylinder. So we went out in the "grease" session last night and it ate the clutch out of it. We fixed it up a little bit for this morning, it got out of the groove and spun the tires. It was nail biting time but I felt it would go on through there. We run Cory Lee in the first round and if we can get by him, the potential is there for a match up with Force. We’ll see what happens. We’re hoping for a long day. That would really strengthen our points situation. We’ll just go out and do our best. No. 7 qualifier—5.007ET/304.12MPH


Cory McClenathan (McDonald’s/Pontiac) We haven’t run too bad at all this weekend. Everybody always looks for the fast car, the No. 1 spot. We pretty much gave that up a while ago. We just want to come out here and be consistent, qualify at every race, try to go to no less than to the semi finals, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. The biggest thing is that we were hurting some parts here and there so we were just trying to make sure that we weren’t doing that anymore. Now it’s running in the low 4.60s and we’re not hurting a thing. We’re happy with our McDonald’s Pontiac and the way things have gone so far, we just need to keep hammering out those 4.60s and see if the other guys are going to push their cars to make mistakes. The way the track is, it will handle about anything we throw at it right now and it’s just a matter of getting the right combination. It doesn’t appear that the hot weather has hurt us a bit. If it were a little cooler, I think we would be running in the low-low 4.50s all day long. But the heat does take away something from the car.

No. 4 qualifier—4.619ET/318.62MPH

# # # #

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt , Cory Lee , Jerry Haas