ST. LOUIS, June 22, 2001 - Qualifying for the 5th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals got underway today at Gateway International Raceway. Bruce Allen took the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock during the quick evening session tonight. The...
ST. LOUIS, June 22, 2001 - Qualifying for the 5th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals got underway today at Gateway International Raceway. Bruce Allen took the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock during the quick evening session tonight. The Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am driver set the elapsed-time track record with a run of 6.869 seconds at 199.91. Allen is shooting for his third No. 1 qualifier of the season.
"When we ran our first pass today in the right lane, we felt like we were a little aggressive with the clutch," said Allen. "We were confident that when we went over to the left lane tonight we would be in pretty good shape. It was a lucky call, but we were able to run our Grand Am on through there and at least for right now, we're on top. Now we need to capitalize on our performance and win some rounds on Sunday.
"We've had a real good car all year basically. We've had some hiccups here and there, but for the most part we're making progress. We felt like we could be close tonight without making any major changes to the car and that's precisely what happened."
Kurt Johnson is the No. 2 qualifier in a Cavalier. Ron Krisher, who was the No. 1 qualifier after the first session today, ended the second round in the No. 3 spot. Tom Martino was fourth in the Century 21 Grand Am with a 6.878 elapsed time at 199.52 mph, and Splitfire/Peak Pontiac driver Jim Yates rounds out the top five with a 6.881 second run at 199.32 mph.
The first two positions in Funny Car were occupied tonight by Pontiac Firebirds. Bruce Sarver nailed down the No. 1 spot in the e-moola.com Pontiac with a track-record elapsed time of 4.851 seconds at 309.34 mph. Sarver, who is currently fourth in the points standings, won earlier this year at Pomona, was runner up at Phoenix and scored his only other top qualifier of the season at Las Vegas.
"We had the car tuned up just like our 'hero' run at Chicago," said Sarver. "This Pontiac Firebird stuck pretty good and actually blew through the clutch. It had so much traction that I couldn't see for the first 300 feet because there was so much clutch dust inside the car. When it all cleared up I realized we were on a pretty good run. It actually felt slow - I was surprised it was top e.t. of the day.
"We think the track will be good enough tomorrow to run in the 4.80s, even with the heat. We thought we were on a 4.79 run tonight, but we were slow early and never caught up. If we can do that tomorrow we should have a good raceday tuneup and you'll certainly see me smiling."
Tony Bartone is in the No. 2 position in the WWF Firebird rocketing down the Gateway International Raceway quarter mile in 4.853 seconds with a track-record top speed of 315.86 mph. Tony Pedregon and John Force are qualified third and fourth. Dean Skuza sits in the No. 5 position, and Whit Bazemore is qualified sixth in the Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird.
Qualifying highlights of the Sears Craftsman Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 23, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, June 24 starting at 7 p.m. Eastern.