Houston Pontiac Racing Notes Friday Report

PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) The humidity here this weekend just kills these naturally aspirated engines and then that warm humid air at the other end has so much viscous drag that it just slows the...


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) The humidity here this weekend just kills these naturally aspirated engines and then that warm humid air at the other end has so much viscous drag that it just slows the speed down on these cars. You're looking at speeds that are a mile to a mile and a half slower than these cars are capable of running if the humidity wasn't here. If we had the same barometric pressure, same temperature and dropped the humidity we would pick up a mile an hour in speed. It's like driving in a swamp. The relative altitude was about 2900 feet-- that's as if these engines were running at 2900 feet up in the air. That's what we're looking at as far as our ability to make power even though we're racing at sea level. The humidity, which was about 93 percent, and the temperature, which was about 82 degrees, coupled with a little bit lower barometer than what we would normally see here, and that's what gave us the corrected altitude. The data reminds valid. The only thing that the weather affects is the performance of the car. The setup on the starting line is going to be approximately the same. We just have to change the gear and the clutch on the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird to compensate for the lack of power. The track hasn't really changed at all so we still have the same coefficient to friction to deal with. We just don't have the power to apply to where the rubber meets the road and the key is to maximize the amount of power that we're given. For about four days after the Gainesville race we tried to do everything we could to straighten these cars out. Kurt had a little different approach to the suspension setup that looked extremely promising on his car. We tried it on mine and it worked. So he came up with something that worked on both cars. That's the goal of a two car team - to use all of the brain power that you have at your disposal, combined with the physical labor and try to maximize their effectiveness. No. 1 qualifier - 6.898ET/200.26MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) I believe this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird has a little bit left in it. We've been trying to get the chassis worked out for this track and on the first run we realized that coming from Gainesville to here was a big change. We spun the tires and shook really hard so we made some changes in the chassis. On the second run we just knocked the clutch out in first and second gear. We think if we can tune that up, keep the chassis settled where it is now, and put some clutch back in it, we'll be able to step it up. Tomorrow morning should be the fastest session. It could be two hundredths faster than what we just had. I think tomorrow evening will be very similar to what we just saw out there tonight. You'll see the field change quite a bit. We're still having a little trouble adjusting the engine tune up. This is the first time we've raced with it in high humidity and we're not sure where to go with it. The first run we ran over 198 mph and the second run we backed up a little bit to a 197. Every time you go to a different track and you encounter different atmospheric conditions you have to figure out what to do. With the humidity being so high here, it's thrown us a little curve ball from what we saw at either Gainesville or Phoenix. The humidity just sucks the wind out of these motors. We'll change it a click here and a click there and see if it picks up. No. 4 qualifier - 6.963ET/198.17MPH

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) That wasn't a bad run this morning but we'll have to do better. It was a really smooth lap and Terry Adams (crew chief) did a nice job setting the car up. The engine didn't perform like we expected it to though and it seems like we may be off a little bit on the tune up. Hopefully we can get a handle on that for tonight and this Dynagear Pontiac Firebird will be in good shape. We want to be careful not to overpower the track and we think we may have been a little too (continued) Pontiac Notes & Quotes 2-2-2-2

conservative. I'm not saying that we're going to pick it up but I'm pretty confident that we can. If we can make that same run tonight we'll be just fine.

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) That was a pretty good run for the new car. It was a pretty successful start, and I know it's not good enough to stay in the field, but we're making progress. However, we'll need to improve on that. There were a lot of good cars who didn't make it down the track, so we'll work on improving and to be honest with you, we'll probably have to run a 6.95 tonight to remain in the show. Tomorrow morning will be a good session and tomorrow afternoon may be just as good. The Outlaw Firebird is working pretty good right now so I'm confident that we have a good place to start tuning from. That's what you like to do --get that first run in so that you can adjust from it and that's what we managed to do in the first session. I would have been tickled to death if we had been three or four hundredths of a second quicker but I'm confident that as the qualifying sessions get better we'll get better also. We plan on switching motors and that should definitely help. Plus we'll be in the right lane tonight and it seems to be a tad quicker.

Second Session: We shook the tires going into second gear and that slowed us down a little. Otherwise we would have been down around 6.96 or 6.97 that round. We were a little over-aggressive with the set-up and the track went away from us. We'll be installing our race motor tomorrow morning and I fully expect to go faster then. No. 14 qualifier - 6.992ET/197.59MPH

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) In the first session we had a rocker arm that an adjuster backed off and we were only running on 7 1/2 cylinders. The Dynomax Pontiac Firebird actually made a pretty good run considering the situation. But when we came back and looked at the graph we started digging into it and found that we kind of messed up the top of the valve stem. We put it back together and made a pretty good charge during this last pass. It was probably a little light but we can definitely tune from there. It's a little hard to adjust the clutch and get a tune up when you don't run as well as you would like. We fixed the problem, ran pretty decent, and we'll make some additional adjustments to run better tomorrow. We don't have a ton left in it but there is some.

No. 8 qualifier - 6.977ET/197.33MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) We obviously missed the clutch set-up but I think we'll be fine. I've got my entire racing staff here including my engine builders and as soon as we all get our thoughts together this Pennzoil Firebird should be flying. I love this track and my car loves this track so I really don't want to miss any more chances to race. We'll be ready for tonight's session.

Second Session: Finally, we made a good run. And what's encouraging is that when I analyzed this run on the computer I can see in several places where we can go even faster. At least now we have a good run that we can tune from and I believe we can only get better. The track is in fantastic shape, which sure has helped all of us. No. 5 qualifier - 6.965ET/198.26MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) Even though we posted a 6.97 and we qualified No. 3, it wasn't a very good run. There's something wrong with the car and we have got to get it figured out. It just fell off at the 330 and from there on it was downhill. We'll get this Summit Racing Firebird fixed and we'll be ready tonight.

Second Session: We made some changes on the Summit Racing Firebird, picked up our speed but still didn't run as good in the back half as we ran at Gainesville. We're going in the right direction though. We stumbled and still made a good enough run to get us in tonight. Tomorrow morning should be better but it's hard to tell. It's supposed to heat up but I still don't think we're safe. I think Greg's (Anderson) safe in the other Summit Racing Firebird but there are a lot of guys capable of running faster. At the same time, we are too. Our problem is that we're off on the clutch. It's still running decent so that's an (continued) Pontiac Notes & Quotes 3-3-3-3

indication that our motors are okay, but neither one of our cars made a good run to the 330. We ran pretty good this morning but then something happened on the back half. If we would have run the back as well as the front half, we would have been pretty quick. Why it didn't run any speed we're not sure, but we'll figure it out. We made the changes for the afternoon session and we picked up where we needed to tonight. No. 6 qualifier - 6.975ET/198.03MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) We just need to get through second gear a lot better. The Century 21 Firebird is working a lot better. We're still not making perfect runs but at the same time, we're respectably fast. We made some drastic changes to the car suspension-wise at home and now we just need to make a few test sessions to find what the car wants. We made more headway testing at Englishtown before we came here than we've made all year. We had 72 runs on the car before Englishtown and after five runs there we made more progress than we've made the entire season. I'm disappointed that it took this long, and I'm not saying that we're by any means over it, but we're definitely better. We can make an ugly run and still run eighth quickest of the session. You have to be able to make an okay run and still be competitive. A few more days and we'll get it figured out. No. 10 qualifier - 6.981ET/198.26MPH


Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) That first run was a good way to start the weekend. We know it's going to get cooler and it was during the Friday night session last year that we ran the 4.80 elapsed time. But obviously, this Interstate Batteries Firebird is going to have to run quicker to take the No. 1 spot this year. We ran 4.81 in the desert testing at Phoenix and this track and the air here is probably a little better. I don't see any reason why we don't have a legitimate shot at low elapsed time. The main thing though on every run is to get it in the show and if a big number pops up, then that's great. That gives you the luxury of coming back in the second session and going after it a little bit. We did some things at the wind tunnel last week with Pontiac and some of the engineers at General Motors and we're starting to sneak up on it. The guys have definitely put in the overtime to make this car faster but the ultimate goal is to be No. 1. That's what we're shooting for here - Wes (Cerny), my teammates and all of our sponsors. When the car's running well, that's exciting for me, because even though I'm a small part of this team, the car has to be there for us to be successful. We want to get to the point where this Interstate Batteries Firebird sets low elapsed time every session. No. 3 qualifier - 4.921ET/302.01MPH

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We managed to do what we set out to do this morning and that's get down the race track. This year we haven't been able to do that consistently without a few problems. Terry (Manzer) and the crew decided that the best thing to do is get down the rack, make a nice lap and get it in the field. Tonight we're going to get after it a little bit and see if we can't make this Firebird go faster. It was real weak, real lazy and nice and smooth. It was great! The crosswind at the end of the track is kind of tricky. I got down there, let off the gas and realized that I had to start steering left pretty hard. The motor looks good and clean -- we didn't hurt a thing. We have a plan devised, we're sticking to it and we'll see if we can't get it down there again. No. 6 qualifier - 4.984ET/303.16MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) That wasn't a bad debut for a new car made by a guy who has never built a Funny Car before. We tested this Firebird to a 4.97 in Gainesville, so we were real confident it would run well. We didn't want to push it too hard in the first lap and maybe smoke the tires or something. We wanted a good solid lap for some data to build from. That's what we got there with a solid 5.00. Now we can tune from here and get more aggressive.

Second Session: The keys to success around here are to be fast, be quick and be consistent. If you don't have the last part of the deal, you don't get very far. We've really been concentrating on getting some consistency, so running a 4.96 right after a 5.00 makes us all feel great. The key part is, we know this Firebird has a lot more to give us, we're just trying to do it in small steps. Even though that was a personal best elapsed time, we're aiming for better times than that to tell you the truth. That was not a perfect run, it plowed through the clutch a little there and didn't lock up until too late in the run. It will get better. I guess this Paralax chassis is pretty good. Including testing, this car has made four runs and all of them have been good. No. 5 qualifier - 4.967ET/305.70MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) We'll be ready for the last session tomorrow night if we have to run. The Mad Magazine Firebird felt great to half track and then it just wouldn't run to the other end. I don't know if it's me getting used to the way the car feels or if it's just not getting there. Whatever it is, we're not happy with it. The car's in good shape but when it blew the roof hatch off, that got my attention. I saw it come off and then I was just waiting for the body to go with it. The last time that happened I saw light and then there was no body left. I couldn't let off the gas because it was still running and if I would have shut it off these guys would have killed me. No. 14 qualifier - 5.139ET/281.89MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt