Houston: Chevrole final qualifying notes

BAYTOWN, Tex., March 24, 2001 -The field is set for the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock Truck, Bob Panella held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10,...

BAYTOWN, Tex., March 24, 2001 -The field is set for the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock Truck, Bob Panella held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10, with his national record elapsed time and speed of 7.420 seconds at 182.11 mph. Randy Daniels is second in an S-10, Jeff Gracia is third in a Sonoma, Greg Stanfield is fourth in an S-10, and Mike Corvo is fifth in a Sonoma. Mike Coughlin and his Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet S-10 is ninth, and Charles Greco is 16th in his Haas Racing Chevrolet S-10.

In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards stayed on top in the Young Life Chevy Cavalier with an elapsed time of 6.843 seconds at 200.65 mph. Warren Johnson is second in a Grand Am, Ron Krisher is third in the Eagle One Chevrolet Cavalier, Darrell Alderman is fourth in a Dodge and Mark Pawuk is fifth in a Grand Am. Kurt Johnson is eight in a Cavalier is eighth, Troy Coughlin is 12th and Jeg Coughlin finished 16th.

In Funny Car, Del Worsham gets his first No. 1 qualifying spot since 1991 with an elapsed time of 4.810 seconds at 313.22 mph in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird. Whit Bazemore is second in a Firebird, John Force is third in a Mustang and Ron Capps has the highest qualified Camaro in the No. 4 position with a run of 4.852 seconds at 312.28 mph. Teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. has his Camaro qualified in the seventh spot with a lap of 4.881 seconds and a speed of 309.70 mph. Chuck Etchells is 14th and Bob Gilbertson is 15th.

In Top Fuel, The New York Yankees/GMC dragster driver Mike Dunn ran an elapsed time of 4.534 seconds at 323.50 mph to take the No. 1 qualifying spot. Larry Dixon and his Miller Lite/Chevy dragster is second with a run of 4.543 seconds at 324.75 mph. Third is Gary Scelzi, Doug Kalitta is fourth and Doug Herbert is fifth.

The 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals is the fourth race on the 24-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Same-day coverage of final elimination's can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, March 25, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern.

PRO STOCK TRUCK

Bob Panella (Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10) - "It feels good to be No. 1. In my mind we've been struggling and there's more potential here and finally we got both these trucks running good today. I feel good about this Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10. We made some really good runs today in two different weather conditions. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to even improve a little more. Tonight if the rain comes in, that will only help the track for tomorrow. It will clean it off and tighten it up even more. We'll see what happens in the morning - right now we're going to put it back the way it was and just go from there. We're going to just go up to the line and do our own thing. We're looking forward to tomorrow.

Mike Coughlin (Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet S-10) - "The conditions were better for us during the second qualifying session yesterday. To run the same ET that we did yesterday in not as good conditions shows that we are going in the right direction with this Jeg's Chevy S-10. High humidity is something that the carburetors don't respond very well to. It makes it even more of a challenge to tune these Chevy small-block engines. We were looking for an improvement out of the Jeg's machine in the final qualifying session. Although we don't have lane choice, you can't win the race unless you are qualified. We will spend a lot of time tonight preparing for the first round. I expect the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy S-10 will come out swinging when the sun comes up tomorrow in Texas."

PRO STOCK

Mike Edwards (Young Life Chevrolet Cavalier) - "We didn't run in the first session because we wanted to focus on Ron's (Krisher) car. I worked on his all day today and got it pretty good tonight, which makes me feel better. I'm glad both Cavalier's are in the show. They both ran really good tonight. I think Krisher's car is pretty close to where we want it for tomorrow. He was quickest that session so I feel really good about that. Tomorrow is a new day and we'll face it like it's a new day. Hopefully we'll be able to go some rounds tomorrow."

Jeg Coughlin (Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet Cavalier) - "The car made a small move to the left as I left the starting line. I drove back to the middle of the groove slowly so I would not disrupt the balance of the car too much. Once it was back in the middle of the groove it took off. We expected to really pickup during the final session. The car just did not respond the way that we thought that it would. Everyone on our team who saw the run thought that it looked a lot better than what the numbers told on the run slip. We landed in the No. 16 position and we won the U.S. Nationals last year from the same spot."

Troy Coughlin (Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet Cavalier) - "We were fortunate to learn a little more about the right lane from the run that my brother Jeg made in front of me. We made some small changes to the setup that seemed to calm down the yellow and black Jeg's Cavalier during the launch from the starting line in the third session. We're going to keep the lights on late and get this car sorted out. We made three great runs in a row in our Jeg's Chevrolet Cavalier. The final run really threw us a curve ball. There is too much talent on Team Jeg's not to get this problem fixed by first round."

FUNNY CAR

Ron Capps (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "Houston has been tough for me throughout my career. I didn't qualify here a couple of times in 1998 and 1999 and that makes me a little leery when I come to this track. But it's a great track, and I love the place so it's kind of bitter sweet. But Ace felt like we had a good tune-up coming into this weekend, and sure enough that second session yesterday we ran a 4.85. With having this two-car team - it has really started to pay off. Tommy (Johnson) ran the 4.88 first round, and I didn't get down the track, so we put his tune-up in my car and it ran a 4.85. It's really coming along really well. And I'm telling you, nothing against (John) Force but I fear having to run Tommy in the final round because I know that Camaro and how it's set up. So I'm glad we're on the opposite side of the ladder tomorrow. That's really been the key this year is to make sure we have lane choice and make sure we're on the opposite sides of the ladder and we did both this weekend."

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "We started off on the right foot and kind of stumbled a little today. Not too bad but not up to our expectations. I was hoping for better as good as we started off, but I don't think it will effect our performance for tomorrow. Every run we've made this weekend, we've learned from. Unfortunately this morning would've probably been a 4.85 if the belt hadn't broke. That last pass the track got really good and we were just a little bit to conservative and it drilled through the clutch. We did well enough in qualifying that we'll be fine tomorrow. The track is in real good shape. We went down that right lane that last run which is the worse of the two and ran a pretty good run and we were soft so I think our chances tomorrow are pretty good."

Chuck Etchells (Kendall/Matco Tools Chevrolet Camaro) - "We learned a lot in testing earlier in the week, but the conditions here this weekend seemed to set us back a little bit. We're trying to get these cars under control. Right now, they either want to run a 4.85 or nothing at all. We came out of the box and did exactly what we wanted to with a nice, conservative and safe 5.01, and though we could move forward from there. Between last night's and tonight's sessions, we probably had as good a track as we'd had all season. Although I'm not a crew chief, it seems as though our problem is either that we're not slipping the clutch enough, or we're not making enough power, which is unusual for this set-up. That's what I'm feeling as a driver. For tomorrow we can think the big guy upstairs that both lanes seem to be equal. Obviously we'll be facing a car that performed much better than our Kendall/Matco Camaro did here. I believe that at the very minimum we are going to have to find a tenth on order to even have a shot at getting out of the first round. (Terry) Manzer, (Larry) Meyer and the crew are well aware of that, and that's what they're going to be working on tonight."

Jim Epler (Motley Crue/Matco Tools Camaro) - We were trying to figure these new clutch discs out in testing, and I believe we made a lot of progress that helped both cars. It may not have shown it here this weekend, but it really did. We came here with the game plan of trying to be conservative and just go down the track, improving on each run. To be honest, we're not used to running that way, and we got behind from the get go. Our biggest problem was dropping cylinders. If you can't get the engine consistent, then it's really hard to tune, and on every run we seemed to drop cylinders. But this is a good team, and we're going to rebound. It's a big disappointment for Motley Crue, and it's certainly not the way we wanted to head into Las Vegas, where we won last year. But we're going to stay here and test on Monday, and we'll keep working at it until we get it right."

TOP FUEL

Larry Dixon (Miller Lite Dragster) - "I am happy about running 324 mph, almost 325. We increased our personal best speed by almost three miles per hour, so that was great. On our last run today we put a cylinder out, ran on seven cylinders and still ran a 4.62, which I s pretty strong to be able to still do that. As far as race day goes, I am glad that we had that cylinder go out today as opposed to tomorrow so that way we can fix it so that it won't happen again. We just want to go out there and make four good runs and try and take home another gold man."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Bob Panella , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Mike Coughlin , Tommy Johnson , Chuck Etchells , Greg Stanfield , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.