Gainesville Pontiac Racing Notes & Quotes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 31st annual Mac Tools Gatornationals took place today at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla. PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We ...

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 31st annual Mac Tools Gatornationals took place today at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We really aren't at 100 percent right now and I'm sure you get tired of hearing that, but it's one of these things where we've had some manufacturing glitches since October of last year. Hopefully we should be at full power by Las Vegas. Kurt (Johnson) broke a motor testing on Wednesday prior to this race so we're going to have to patch another one together. We should have enough fresh parts where would should be, maybe not any faster, but at least more consistent with both Kurt and mine and Richie's (Stevens) program. I've never claimed to be a great driver. Driving just went along with the job. My forte has been trying to make these cars run quicker and faster than everybody else. It got a little loose out there. I don't know if it was oil or what, but there were some trucks that had a problem negotiating that lane so there was something out there. We're down about 15 to 18 horsepower from where we should be. We've been playing dumpster diver trying to salvage pistons and what not for the last three races. But it could upset our chassis program too when we put a little more power to it. We'll be doing a lot of testing on it at Atlanta. We went out there Wednesday prior to this race and I think everybody is going to rate it as the best racetrack surface on the tour. I was absolutely impressed. All we can do is the very best we can with our program. I feel fortunate to be in the position we're in. We started out in Pomona qualified 12th, were runner up, moved up a little bit at Phoenix, but went out in the second round. That kind of off set Jeggie's (Coughlin) second round loss here so I think we're off by maybe 20 or 30 points. It's not going to be a two-car race. I guarantee that there will be another three or four cars in that mix by the end of the season. If you look at how strong the category is with the 16 cars that qualify, the people that do a good job driving, and as a team maintaining these cars between rounds, and addressing changing track conditions, there's enough intelligence out there to give us a very interesting season. I've been enjoying what I do out here and if someone does a better job, then so be it. That just means we didn't do a good enough job. We'll just try and shore up our weak spots and try to keep the strong points where they are." Race winner

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I thought we came along pretty well this weekend in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird after taking the reins back over from Rickie (Smith). I felt pretty confident coming in here this morning after the run we made in the final session yesterday, and I though we ran pretty well in the first round out of the bad lane. We ran a 6.94 in the second session in the bad lane which I though was pretty good considering Warren (Johnson) only ran a 6.93 in the right lane. I'm happy with the way this car ran and I feel a lot more confident tuning the car than when I got here. Rickie had made a lot of good calls up to this point and it's going to take me awhile to get used to being in charge again. We made a pretty good showing today. We ran as good as we could have expected to run and the car has a lot of potential left in it. It's a long season, but I'm looking forward to being more productive and winning a few more rounds. Right now I feel like we had a great opportunity to win this race but it just didn't happen." Lost in round two

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We had some serious problems in testing when we broke a transmission. It pretty much sawed the inside of our racecar up. We just wanted to make a couple of good runs today and we were on a good pass against Yates in the first round. I was terribly late and didn't do a good job, but the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird had the potential to run 6.90 or 6.91 and that would have been very competitive. We just need to go home and fix our racecar and we'll be back in good shape. We have to put some tubes in the car that were damaged, fix the rest of the damage from the transmission explosion and go on to Las Vegas. We've been working real hard on our engine program in both Pro Stock and Pro Stock Truck. We've found a significant amount of power in the last 30 days and it's showing. In a couple of sessions David (Spitzer) was the second fastest truck and in the first round today he was the second quickest truck. We're not exactly where we want to be yet with that program, and if we can find him a couple of more horsepower I think David will win a few races this year. I've always liked competition, and the heat of battle and I like measuring our performance against the rest of the teams out here. Some of those guys have had a little headstart - about 10 to 15 years with the small-block engine program. We'll see if we can't keep working and catch them." Lost in round one

FUNNY CAR

Jim Dunn (Crew Chief/Owner - Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird) - "We don't have too much to talk about. We were having our problems trying to get the Mooneyes Firebird to run better. We tried a lot of stuff that I think will help us in Las Vegas, but we couldn't get our clutch to react the way we wanted it to, and if the clutch doesn't work, your car doesn't work. That is the primary ingredient in making these cars run. We have enough power - and if it will go 300 mph it will run in the 4.80s. We were stuck on 4.99 and five-ohs and that's not good enough anymore. We tried to improve and we smoked the tires. It was good at Phoenix but now it slips too far. If we were going to Houston next we would put our five-disc in. But we're going to Las Vegas where it might be pretty loose, so we're staying with the four disc. At Phoenix the track was a little marginal, the tires slipped and the clutch did it's job. Here the track was so good that we could never get the clutch to hook up hard enough to get the tires going the way we wanted. This track was too good for the combination we had in it."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - I knew yesterday when we were on that huge run and lost the blower belt that we had a lot more in the bank than our 4.99 qualifying time. Of course that Epler car can run just about anything, so I hoped we had enough. That was a sweet run, just like we laid it out. I also said yesterday that I'd be very disappointed if we ddin't reset our personal best e.t. this weekend, just like we did at the last race in Phoenix. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird ran 4.95 in Phoenix, and that 4.93 dropped our mark down again. I'm real pleased. We'll just get back out there in 75 minutes and see what we can give Ron Capps."

Second session: "There's a pretty good chance we weren't going to beat a 4.83. We just ran 4.93 and we are getting quicker, but stepping up a full tenth of a second might have been a bit much. We didn't make that many changes from round one, but the clutch just wore differently on this run. It was more aggressive and it was enough to overpower the track out there. It surprised me really. The Checkers Schuck's Kragen Firebird hasn't been on edge all weekend, or all year for that matter. I'm happy we've to the second round of each race so far. That's really our overall goal this year - to win as many rounds as we lose. But once you win that first one it's really tough to accept a loss. You just want to keep winning." Lost in round two

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm not unhappy because we had an important weekend here. We've got the blue Firebird running consistently and we're getting quicker every race. We gave ourselves a chance, but on that lap Tony (Pedregon) was just too strong to chase down. It's going to be a big step for us when we start winning rounds and we're completely ready to do that. If our improvement curve keeps going like it is, we're going to be very much in the middle of things here very shortly." Lost in round one

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , Steve Schmidt