GMC Sonoma Pomona preview

POMONA, Calif. (November 2, 2000) - And then there was one. After slugging it out in the trenches of the Pro Stock Truck category for the past 10 months, the Winston championship series rolls into fabled Pomona Raceway for the 14th and ...

POMONA, Calif. (November 2, 2000) - And then there was one. After slugging it out in the trenches of the Pro Stock Truck category for the past 10 months, the Winston championship series rolls into fabled Pomona Raceway for the 14th and final race on the 2000 NHRA schedule. It's been a year of ups and downs for all three GMC Sonoma drivers, and though victory has eluded their diligent efforts, each has experienced their share of quantified success on the quarter-mile dragstrip.

Rick Jones is a GMC driver that has made an impact on the Pro Stock Truck class in 2000. After 12 events, the renowned chassis builder has accumulated seven round wins with a season-best effort at the Southern Nationals in Atlanta where he advanced to the semifinals before losing to Randy Daniels. At Memphis, the Country Motors Trailer Sales Sonoma driver had the quickest and fastest lap ever by a Sonoma Pro Stock Truck when he qualified fifth with a run of 7.462 seconds at 179.90 mph. With one race remaining on the drag racing docket, Jones has been a top-half qualifier at four events and is ninth in the Pro Stock Truck standings.

Taking a look at 2000, how would you evaluate the way the season has gone? Jones: "I've been real happy with it. Our goal was just to qualify, and get in the top 10 in points and right now we're ninth. I slipped at Indy and Topeka, but we did find some problems and we think we've fixed them. We did better at Memphis, and although we were out in the first round the Country Motors GMC Sonoma ran better. The year has been good. I can't complain at all. For our budget, and having only one engine I think we've done well."

What are some of the things you've worked on throughout the year?
Jones: "Well, Reher-Morrison has been working on a motor to develop more horsepower, and we've been working on the chassis and clutch department trying to make it better, and I think we'll see that at Pomona."

What would you like to accomplish at Pomona?
Jones: "Well, obviously we would like to qualify in the top half and be able to win a race. Pro Stock Truck is so competitive out there. We need more horsepower to be able to win a race. We need more engines, power and more time to test. With only one engine it's hard to go out and run it a lot, and when you do you take the chance of hurting something."

What have some of the high points been this season?
Jones: "I'd say Atlanta would definitely be a highlight making it to the semi-finals. That was my first trip to the semifinals so that was good for us. We qualified well at Gainesville and Memphis and being able to run faster than the national record there at Memphis was really neat. I ran in the 7.40s for the first time."

What are your plans for next year?
Jones: "We're in the process of working that out now. We haven't made any definite plans; we're trying to work out sponsors right now. But we do still want to race." Heading into the AutoZone Nationals last October in Memphis, Tenn., John Lingenfelter had qualified his Summit Racing GMC Sonoma for Sunday eliminations at 11 consecutive events, one of only a handful of drivers to do so. But after running career-best numbers in elapsed time (7.499 seconds) and top speed (179.06 mph), the Decatur, Ind., engine builder missed his first eliminator of the year, the only stumbling block he has encountered all season in his quest for a top-10 finish. Currently 10th in the points standings, Lingenfelter is looking to close the year out with a victory at the NHRA Finals.

Taking a look at 2000, how would you evaluate the way the season has gone?
Lingenfelter: "We're disappointed. We'd like to be in the top five in points, which was our goal when the season started. We still have a chance to move up a little bit. The performance at the end of the year on the Summit Racing Sonoma has picked up and we've got a lot better handle on the truck itself. One of the big things that hurt us was not qualifying at Memphis."

What are some things you've worked on this year?
Lingenfelter: "Mainly the chassis and the engine. We're always looking for more power, but it's hard to find and expensive to look for. We came across some good stuff with the chassis."

What would you consider to be some of your highlights this year?
Lingenfelter: "We qualified second one race (Atlanta), and we've been third (St. Louis) and fourth (Indianapolis) a few times. Those are probably our biggest highlights."

What improvements would you like to see with your team?
Lingenfelter: "Better reaction times out of me. We need more consistency too. It's much improved, but we've had three or four races where we've stumbled through, and we'd like to improve on that."

What do you expect in Pomona?
Lingenfelter: "We usually have pretty good luck there. We're anxious to get there. It's not a killer track; it's kind of one of those in the middle of the road. The tracks that are super good, everyone steps up. We'd rather the track be in the middle of the road. We do better in those situations, so hopefully we'll have a good showing."

What would you like to accomplish next year?
Lingenfelter: "Same thing as this year just more of it. We hope to be faster and quicker. We've got a good engine program going and we're going to continue to work through that during the winter. We'll go to Florida and do some testing as well. The key is getting a good start and that's what we're focusing on."

At the 12th annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Topeka, Kan., Dynagear/Sunnen GMC driver David Spitzer gave the Sonoma brand its first Pro Stock Truck final round. The 31-year-old Indianapolis native qualified sixth and had the best day of his professional career when he advanced to the championship heat before losing to points leader Bob Panella. His effort at Heartland Park was the culmination of a season of hard work and perseverance. He capped it a week later at Memphis when he recorded his best elapsed time ever at 7.498 seconds. Another one of Spitzer's big moments came earlier in the season at Gainesville when he qualified seventh and advanced to the semifinal round of the Gatornationals.

Taking a look at 2000, how would you evaluate the way the season has gone?
Spitzer: "A big roller coaster. We've had some good times and some not so good times. You just have to learn to eat a lot of humble pie and if nothing else you learn to keep plugging away."

What are some things that you've worked on throughout this year?
Spitzer: "The never ending quest for power and trying to make the truck happy to where it can go track to track. We probably should've tested more, but when you're running two Pro Stock cars and a Pro Stock truck, it's almost too much."

What have some of the high points been this season?
Spitzer: "The way we started out the year was one of them. Getting to the finals at Topeka should've happened a lot sooner. Topeka was great for us too. Being a top qualifier and getting lane choice throughout that race was just awesome."

Do you feel your team has improved over the year?
Spitzer: "Even though it doesn't show it, yes I do. You just keep filling up your notebook with notes. We've gotten to a decent spot now where we won't have to change much, as before we were changing the whole truck around and guessing on it. We've got a pretty good feel on the Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma."

The 36th annual Southern California Auto Club NHRA Finals on November 9 - 12 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., is the 14th race on the 14-event NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck series. NHRA Heat can be seen on ESPN2 on Thursday, November 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Qualifying highlights of the NHRA Finals including coverage of the Big Bud Shootout for Top Fuel dragsters can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, November 12, starting at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Coverage of final eliminations begins on ESPN2 on Sunday, November 12, at 6 p.m. Eastern and again at 10 p.m. Eastern.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Randy Daniels