Houston Friday Qualifying Pontiac Racing Notes

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL MATCO TOOLS SUPERNATIONALS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1998 HOUSTON, TEXAS HOUSTON, Tex. (October 30, 1998) - At the first day of qualifying at the Matco Tools Supernationals at Houston Raceway Park, Cruz Pedregon...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL MATCO TOOLS SUPERNATIONALS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1998 HOUSTON, TEXAS

HOUSTON, Tex. (October 30, 1998) - At the first day of qualifying at the Matco Tools Supernationals at Houston Raceway Park, Cruz Pedregon put his Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird in the No. 1 Funny Car qualifying position with a track record elapsed time of 4.807 seconds at 319.60 mph. Randy Anderson ran his career best performance number during the night session at 4.848ET/318.92MPH and is qualified second. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is the highest qualified Pontiac Firebird in the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 6.923 seconds at 199.73 mph. Jim Yates is qualified third in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 6.935 seconds at 197.88 mph. There are currently 13 Firebirds qualified in the 16-car Pro Stock field.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We had a pretty decent day. We came in here with basically the same combination we had in Dallas, changed that for the evening run, and overall, I don't think we did too bad. We may have left a hundredth on the table, which was the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 qualifier. But Kurt's (Johnson) one, and I'm two, so I guess when you look at the big picture, that's about the right order we needed. Being on opposite sides of the ladder is pretty much our goal when we show up for a race. Depending on what happens tomorrow morning, the GM Goodwrench Firebird can probably pick up the pace just a little bit. We'll look at what we have to deal with atmosphere-wise, what the race track gives us and go from there. It was 92 percent humidity here tonight. The air is so dense that it puts so much drag on these cars that you can't run any real speed. At the same time, we had a little moisture on the track so the traction wasn't as good as we would like to see. Even though it is relatively cool, the humidity was so high that it slowed us down. No. 2 qualifier - 6.923ET / 199.73MPH Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We just wanted to go out in the first session and make sure that the great performance we had in Dallas was no fluke. We didn't run as well as we did there, but in all honesty, we didn't run that great of a run in the first session. Running as well as we did in the first session will give us the confidence to go out and make a good pass tonight. We're just happy that our Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is performing as well as it is, and hope that we can keep it up through the remainder of the year. Hopefully, that will give us a jump start on 1999. We had a bad break last week when I was a little late, but we have to put that behind us and get ready for this weekend. We didn't make a very good run in the first part of the track. We spun in low gear, I kind of short shifted it and knocked the clutch out of it. The only thing that bothers me is that we didn't run any speed in the back half so we're going to try and improve our engine tune up a little bit. Still, we had a good start in the first session and we're hanging in there. No. 5 qualifier - 6.946ET / 197.58MPH

George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) I think everybody's going to have to tune up for the night session. I was surprised that the bump was as low as it was. There were a lot of guys that made good passes, but I thought our run was pretty decent. It was good for a tune up pass. It was a little heavy and that hurt our 60 foot time pretty bad. If we get that straightened out, we'll be right there in the hunt, and tonight, the Tenneco Firebird will be ready to go. Some of those times were unbelievable given the conditions. Warren (Johnson), Kurt (Johnson) and Jim (Yates) all made excellent passes. They pretty much drained it, and on the first shot, that's pretty awesome. We were off a little on the clutch down low, but if we get that figured out, we'll have this car running. No. 18 qualifier - 7.015ET / 196.67MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) The Outlaw Firebird launched real well but we went to the right and got a little loose. I was spinning all the way through third, fourth and fifth gear. That definitely killed my ET. Still, we managed to get the clutch info we needed, which will be crucial tonight. The field in Houston is usually set on Friday night.

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) Posting an early speed like that is encouraging. What's more encouraging is the fact that the Pennzoil Firebird has the elapsed time to go with it. We just didn't run the first half of the track the way I wanted to. Overall, the track's in great shape and tonight will be awesome. Tonight's session is all-important. If you don't qualify this evening, you're outta here. No. 8 qualifier - 6.977ET / 198.10MPH

Tom Martino (Jesel Valve Train Pontiac Firebird) Awesome run, but it just labored in fourth and fifth gear horribly. I let the clutch out and it held me in the seat. I put it in second and thought, 'man, this is on a good run.' You can see on the computer that it's just an awesome run. I put it in third, and it was feeling pretty good. But when I put it in fourth it was really struggling. In fifth gear it felt like I had a hand brake on. I broke the rear end and it was binding in fourth and fifth gear. The Jesel Valve Train Firebird still ran the 6.96. It probably would have run a 6.93 or a 6.94. We were horrible on the back, and this motor never runs anything but fifth or sixth in speed. We're not disappointed though because we're qualified. We don't care if we're qualified No. 1 or No. 16 because we know we can run with the best cars. We may not run quicker tomorrow because of the atmospheric conditions, but we'll run better compared to the rest of the field. No. 6 qualifier - 6.962ET / 196.85MPH

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) That first run was a little strange. We put a cylinder out, but when the Interstate Batteries Firebird left the line, it felt really strong - an .890 60-foot time. It was heading towards the wall after it put the cylinder out so I just shut it down. That's one we'll throw out and start from scratch tonight. As always, the conditions tonight are going to be tremendous. The humidity is a little high, but these engines make so much power that I don't think that's going to affect the performance. The biggest factor will be the track. I look to see our car go right down through there and who knows, maybe we can make our best run tonight. That's the nice thing about our car. Sometimes when we miss on the first run, what may appear to be a conservative run during the night session can be one of our better runs of the weekend.

Second Session: We love Houston! We had a launch of our own tonight that was pretty impressive. We had an .878 60-foot time which is our best by quite a bit. That's the segment from zero to 60 feet which has a tremendous bearing on the overall ET because the quicker you can go initially, the better the overall elapsed time will be. I knew about half track that the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird was a rocket ship. Usually, if our car makes it to half track, and with the way this car runs with Wes Cerny tuning and the whole team working on it, it's going to run really well. It answers the bell every time and the way it qualifies for us, it's been a great race car. Last week was the first time in the last three races that we haven't qualified No. 1 and if tonight's lap holds, that will make the 11th time this season. In March we ran the 4.81 during the daylight hours so it's very conceivable that we'll be able to back up the time. I never doubt Wes Cerny. He's aggressive but he knows what he's doing. He knows how to read the race track and I give him all of the credit. The next phase is to keep the momentum going through Sunday. To set the record would be great, but we want to move up in the points. We have Chuck Etchells in front of us, Capps in second and Force in first. It would mean a lot to this team to come away with the No. 1 qualifying position and the win to wrap up this year. No. 1 qualifier - 4.807ET(careerbest)(track record) / 319.60MPH (career best)(track record)

Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) That run felt great. I went up there and knew that I had to pay attention. When they're hopped up like that they'll try and move around on you pretty good. Jim (Dunn) said the Parts America Firebird was going to go 4.87 at around 316 mph. He lied to me. It went 4.84 at 318 mph. It didn't hurt any thing. I guess when they're right they don't hurt anything. We'll go out tomorrow and see if we can back it up. That just shows what we can do when we keep all the cylinders lit. They always run better on all eight and that's a problem we've been fighting all year. Jim's been figuring it out, he keeps working with the fuel system, made some changes there tonight and obviously it was the right move. We always feel like we have a shot to win on Sunday. When you run them on the edge like we do, anybody can win. That just shows that we can run right with the leaders. That's encouraging and we're all excited. No. 2 qualifier - 4.848ET(career best) / 318.92MPH (career best) Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We're all right. I just drove the JCIT Firebird a little too far, that's really all that was wrong. It put a hole out early. It didn't really feel too bad because Whit's (Bazemore) car was right beside me. All I could hear was his car. It was my fault. It had the potential to be a good pass, but I put one hole out at one second and then another one at three seconds. After that, it got ugly. We were fortunate that it didn't ruin the whole car. I'm not too happy with my driving right now but we'll come back tonight and try it again. It's going to be pretty fast I think. No. 10 qualifier - 5.259ET / 222.00MPH

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) Today was a little more than we expected. But we're here to race, so we're going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The first run, the Creasy Racing Firebird was running pretty good. Not as good as we wanted, but we wanted to run a 5.20. It was on pace to do that and it just shut itself off. The fuel pump twisted off. It pushed the shaft out the front of the fuel pump. I've never seen anything like that before. It hurt the motor, didn't hurt the heads, but it did blacken the banks. We had to change the motors and with just the two of us here, couldn't get it done in time for the second session. No. 13 qualifier - 5.417ET / 239.23MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) Weak motor, that was our problem in the first session. We went up there trying not to overpower the track and it was just weak. When I hit the gas, the GM Performance Parts Firebird was moving pretty good, but it pulled the engine down. When that happens, nothing goes right after that. It wasn't a big problem. We'll put a little more power in her and she'll go right down the track. When the engine's weak like that it creates a ton of problems. All we have to do is put a little more nitro in it and it should run in the middle 4.90s. No. 17 qualifier - 6.128ET / 167.50MPH

TOP FUEL

Shelly Anderson (Parts America/Pontiac) Mike Kloeber came over from Reebok and he's helping out now. The Parts America/Pontiac was on a pretty good run during the first pass, the fuel pump died and it ruined the motor and the blower. The second session it was on an even better run, we were right with Dixon and it just shut off. We just have to figure out why. To go that far two runs in a row and not shake makes me pretty happy. I'm getting my confidence back. We're hoping that today will be a good start on a great weekend. Tomorrow we would like to go out, make two good runs, and get ready for Sunday. We're just hoping that we can get a little luck to shine down on us. No. 11 qualifier - 4.747ET / 251.04MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Shelly Anderson