BAYTOWN, Tex. (April 14, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals got underway today at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates is the No. 1 qualifier in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 6.888...
BAYTOWN, Tex. (April 14, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals got underway today at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates is the No. 1 qualifier in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 6.888 seconds at 199.58 mph. Jeg Coughlin is qualified second in an Oldsmobile, Rickie Smith is third in a Camaro, Richie Stevens is fourth in the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird and Mark Pawuk is fifth in the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird. Bruce Allen is qualified ninth, Tom Martino is 10th, Ron Krisher is 12th, Brad Jeter is 13th, Mike Thomas is 14th, Warren Johnson is 15th and Jamie Yates is 22nd.
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We stayed and tested last week in Las Vegas and I think it's helped us. Since Rickie (Smith) left as our crew chief, we've been experimenting with a lot of different four-link combinations on the chassis. We really didn't have any idea where we were, and honestly, in Las Vegas we went the wrong way. We went there and tested before the event, went in one direction and it didn't work. We tried something different on Sunday morning and that didn't work either. So we stayed and tried to get this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird straightened out. We made four runs with three different four links in the car and hit on what we think is a pretty good combination. We came out in the first session today, didn't have enough clutch and were the No. 3 qualifier. We came back tonight and jumped to the front. We're still a little on the conservative side right now. We're sliding the clutch quite a bit - I can't believe how much it wants. We just put a little more clutch in for this afternoon, ran a 6.88 and it probably has another hundredth in it if we get the clutch right. I'm excited because I think we have a car we can race with on Sunday. It's hard to say where the bump will be before it's all said and done, but with the way we're running right now, I could see it coming down another hundredth of a second. Then we have another run tomorrow night at 5:30 when we run after the Fuel cars. If that session gets any later it could also be very, very fast. I guess the bump will depend on what the weather does and what the tracks gives us. This racetrack is so good. Year after year we race here, the surface is consistent and it gives us something we can tune from. I'm thinking it will get better tomorrow morning and possibly deteriorate tomorrow afternoon. There's definitely room for everybody to step up and the bump could be around a 6.91." No. 1 qualifier - 6.888ET/199.58MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "There are a lot of fast racecars out here and this place is usually an equalizer. We made a very good run in the first session but there's still a little bit left in it. The first couple of gears weren't the best. The Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird went through there and now the key will be trying to hold onto that No. 1 spot tonight. We faced this same situation last weekend in Las Vegas before the last car in the session bumped us down. I would love to stay No. 1 but we'll have to run quicker to keep it. We have consistency this year which has helped our program to go forward. Hopefully we can go some rounds on Sunday. My crew has done a great job. We communicate well, develop a good gameplan and make the right calls. We missed it a little bit at Gainesville, but the track wasn't as good as we thought it was. Here, coming out of the box and getting through the first three gears is crucial. A lot of cars didn't do that - a lot of cars were shaking. We got through there all right and ended up being the only car in the 6.80s. I know that will change tonight, but it's a great start, because now we can tune from it and hopefully improve." No. 5 qualifier - 6.898ET/198.61MPH
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) "For some reason, we just aren't running well in the bottom half of the track. We know we were a little too aggressive on the clutch, but it still should have run faster than it did. Just to give you an idea, we were the fifteenth quickest to 60 feet, but were the third fastest in the quarter mile. We have some changes in mind that we will try tomorrow to get it to run well the whole way down. We'll take tonight's time and look to improve on it tomorrow. We know this Century 21 Firebird has the ability to run 6.88s - it's just a matter of dialing it in."
No. 10 qualifier - 6.916ET/199.49MPH
Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) "We spun up a little in low, started shaking, shook a little going into second and were a little soft at 60-feet. We need to make a few changes to try and improve but that 6.92 is still a good place to start but we should have run a 6.90. It's going to better this afternoon and we're just trying to figure out what to do here as far as making the right adjustment. There's a fine line between being aggressive enough in low gear without shaking. It's kind of like a match game - you know what you want to do but you don't know whether or not you can without going over the edge. We should have at least three good qualifying sessions - I think tomorrow morning will be good, I don't know about tomorrow afternoon. It's important though for us to pick up tonight and run fast." No. 9 qualifier - 6.913ET/199.02MPH
Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "We were killer tonight. The run was almost perfect. The only thing bad that happened was right after I shifted into high gear I hit a bump or something out there that made the car lose traction for just a fraction of a second. If that hadn't happened I bet we would have been the No. 1 qualifier. Tommy (Utt) (crew chief) nailed the clutch set-up for this track and these conditions. The on-board computer gave us a (data) graph that looks perfect. It's like it's right out of the textbook on how a perfect run should look. It's cool to run quick today because we have a bunch of friends here from New Orleans plus some of the Valspar folks are here so now everyone can eat good and have a good time tonight and we can all rest a little easier. When you run quick right out of the truck like this than you feel secure about having a spot in the field and you can start to work on the Sunday tune-up. It gives you a real edge over guys farther down the ladder that are worried to death about getting in the show. We know we're in, now we need to translate this to winning four rounds on Sunday. We could make a nice big move in the points with a win here." No. 4 qualifier - 6.897ET/197.59MPH