PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 1998 MADISON, ILLINOIS PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) The track is a lot better than what many people thought it would be. There's no doubt...
PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 1998 MADISON, ILLINOIS
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) The track is a lot better than what many people thought it would be. There's no doubt that the new car helps us get over the bumps in the track. Last year, that's one area that we worked on probably more diligently than any other, getting down the race track and not necessarily running a quick 60-foot time. We wanted to negotiate the track as smoothly as possible. We were spending more time going up and down than forward. It wasn't too difficult finding the right setup for today given the conditions. Basically we reverted back to what we ran here on Friday and Saturday of last week when Kurt and I tested. We found some characteristics on the track that we had to make adjustments for in order to get down the track as well as we could. On the second day we tried to zero in on a setup on our GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird that we felt would be usable this weekend. We felt that temperatures would be about the same and the track would possibly be better with the fuel cars and the alcohol cars running. I would expect tomorrow morning's session, barring any delays, to be the equivalent of this session. You might see some minor shuffling, but you're probably not going to see any wholesale changes. The No. 15 or 16 car may be in jeopardy, but that's about it No. 1 qualifier 7.012ET/197.06MPH (track record)
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) One run or one race is not an indicator on whether this team has turned the corner. We've struggled this year. We've come back and run really good after failing to qualify and then we've gone out and failed to qualify again. It's an ongoing process, but I think we're picking away at it. We made some good runs at the last race in Columbus where every run we made was faster than the time before all the way up to the final round. We came here and tested our Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird last weekend, learned a little bit about the track and came out and made a good pass on the first run. We're just going to try and continue to grow on that and see how far we can go. The air conditions are awful, but the track condition for us was pretty good. The initial starting line was pretty bad, but after we got it in second gear, the track was fantastic--it was no problem at all. The computer said we could run a 7.06 or a 7.07, but the way every one else was running, I was real happy with a 7.10. No. 3 qualifier 7.047ET/194.46MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird just made a great pass that session. We went out this morning and did so poorly that we made a big move and it paid off. It's just another example of making a great run down the race track when we have to. The crew never gave up and they have been thrashing all day to get this car right. Everybody stuck together under less than perfect conditions and this program looks like it's starting to come around. The conditions in the morning will probably be as good if not better than tonight, so we'll see if we can't come back and do it again. No. 5 qualifier 7.067ET/195.05MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) The clutch started slipping in low gear and that just threw everything off. We literally had too much clutch in low gear and not enough in every other gear. We've never had this happen before. We're trying to figure out what the car is telling us which is hard to do because it's a problem we've never encountered It's extremely worrisome. We have to get this figured out before tonight.
Second Session: The Outlaw Pontiac Firebird drifted out of the groove and just couldn't get back. Everything was working properly but you can't wreck your car over one qualifying run. The good news is we now have a baseline to work with so we can adjust for tomorrow. If we get some decent weather and a few clouds we can qualify. That's the goal. We just have to get in the field and go from there.
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) It got real bouncy at the other end of the track but we held on and put a good first round time on the board. I actually put it in fourth and fifth gear earlier than I normally do so that I could get down the track. Trust me, the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird can go a lot faster. We're gonna lay one down tonight.
Second Session: The Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird went sideways out of the gate and I just had to hold on. I think most people would have just shut it down right there but I really wanted to make a good run. I don't know what to say. We just looked at the run on the computer and it looked great. Now we have to hope for good weather in the morning session or we're done. It's going to be a long night because we're not going to leave until we figure out how to go faster. No. 19 qualifier 7.104ET/193.96MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) Our first run, the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird shook the tires, broke the tires loose and then smoked them. Tonight, we put out a cylinder and went immediately to the wall. At that point, I could have gotten back on the throttle, but I'm confident that we'll get it fixed and come back strong tomorrow. We've run so well on Friday night that maybe this will turn our luck around a little. Maybe if we come from the other side of the ladder we can mix things up a little bit. Really, where you wind up on race day is all that counts. I'm sure on that first run tomorrow morning, Wes (Cerny) will get it down the track. It's always best to take a good luck at everything and come back to fight another day. That way you can get a better read on exactly where you are instead of getting in and out of the throttle. We're plugging away, and have so much data that we'll have this car ready to go in the morning. No. 17 qualifier 8.534ET/100.33MPH
Dale Creasy, Jr. (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) I shut it off a little early or the run may have been even better. It left pretty good and it was running down through there but it just didn't feel like it was moving that well. Usually, when it stops moving on the top end, it doesn't have that momentum pushing you forward, and I started thinking that the clutch was getting ready to go. I shut it off at the first light and I shouldn't have. It might have run a 5.32, but we're happy with it. The track is really tricky out there but I don't think it's too bad unless the car starts spinning the tires early. When it starts early, it wants to get sideways, but once you get moving, then the car usually tries to stay a little bit straighter and it's easier to handle. We're going to park this Pontiac Firebird, come back tomorrow and give another shot. We're really having a lot fun! No. 11 qualifier 5.330ET/274.64MPH
Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) That run was OK, but I probably hurt us more than I helped us there. I grabbed the brake on this thing a little too soon. I kind of wanted to drive it down there about three or four hundred feet and then grab the brake. We watched everyone else not make it a hundred feet and after we looked at it, we realized that maybe some of those guys we're just a little behind the program and that's why they weren't making it through there. We probably would have been OK, but the JCIT Pontiac Firebird made it down the track, so I guess we're pleased with that. This team likes sticky conditions but these conditions are worse than what we like. I don't think anyone likes it this bad. As soon as I let off the brake, we spun the tires. Terry (Manzer) and Gary (Kennedy) think it spun the tires because it was so far behind at that point. We're going to try something different next run. I may drive it out there a little farther and maybe if the clutch goes to lock up I may grab the brake and I may not. We'll just have to wait and see. Tonight's session should be interesting.
Second Session: We had some really good early times today. The first run, the crew was asking me to pull the brake as soon as I hit the pedal and after we did that we decided that it was a mistake. This time we ran our JCIT Pontiac Firebird out to about 400 feet and I just held the brake a hair all the way to the end. It went right down through there. I don't know if we can do that all day on race day, but we're going to come out tomorrow and try to make it go down the track without a problem. We had a cannon in the clutch that was screwed up on the first run. When I did the burnout, I hit the pedal and I couldn't get the cannon to load. I was going to shut it off, but when I got it closer to the starting line it came back to life. I knew when I hit the gas it was going to smoke the tires because I knew the clutch was going to be hot. That's why I held the brake. I called the crew on the radio and they told me to hold the brake and try to get it to the end and that's what we did. It went right down through there. We were No. 1 qualifier on Friday night in Columbus and Cruz (Pedregon) picked my pocket on Saturday. We're going to control our own destiny this weekend. We're the last car down the track tomorrow night and hopefully, we'll be one of the two final cars on the track on Sunday. I'm amazed at the fan support that I have here. Being so close to home, I have a lot of friends here too. It's just too good to describe the support I get when I race here. Last year was such a disappointment. We made four laps down the track and couldn't run better than a 5.40. You could have run faster than our car on foot. To be doing as well as we are now makes every one on the team pretty happy. No. 1 qualifier 5.064ET (track record)/293.54MPH (track record)
Del Worsham (Checker-Schucks-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We didn't really get to run in the first session. A fuel line came loose during the burnout and I didn't have the chance to really run it. I had to click it off as soon as I hit the throttle when it started spraying fuel on the windshield. Basically, that just put us back a lap behind every one. We were on our first shot here tonight and we missed the tune-up a little, plain and simple. There's no excuse, we were the ones who allowed the loose fuel line to happen, but it hurt to not have the data from the first run. I tried to pedal it when it lost traction, but it smoked the tires almost instantly again, so we had to coast it across. Now we've got two shots tomorrow to get this Pontiac Firebird running strong again. We ran a match race last weekend in New Hampshire on a track where the conditions were absolutely no better than they were here today, probably worse, and it ran like a bandit. It's a goofy sport sometimes. No. 16 qualifier 8.239ET/106.42MPH
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