Houston: Pontiac Racing qualifying notes

BAYTOWN, Tex. (October 28, 2000)- The field is set for the 4th annual Matco Tools SuperNationals at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson in a Camaro took the No. 1 qualifying spot in the last session with an elapsed time of 6.902...

BAYTOWN, Tex. (October 28, 2000)- The field is set for the 4th annual Matco Tools SuperNationals at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson in a Camaro took the No. 1 qualifying spot in the last session with an elapsed time of 6.902 at 199.55 mph. Ron Krisher qualified second in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird, Richie Stevens is third, Warren Johnson is fourth and Mark Pawuk is fifth. Jim Yates is qualified sixth, Brad Jeter is seventh and Tom Martino is 10th. Bruce Allen finished 18th, and Jamie Yates was 30th.

In Funny Car, Bruce Sarver and the e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird ran an astounding elapsed time of 4.876 seconds at 310.55 mph to lead the quickest field in history. John Force qualified second in a Mustang, Jim Epler is third in a Camaro, Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird is fourth and Whit Bazemore is fifth. Gary Densham is qualified seventh, Frank Pedregon is 10th, Jerry Toliver is 11th and Tommy Johnson Jr. is 12th. Al Hofmann finished 17th, Del Worsham was 18th and Dale Creasy Jr. was 23rd.

In Top Fuel, The top five stay the same as yesterday with Mike Dunn and the New York Yankees Pontiac Dragster holding on to the No. 1 qualifying spot with his season-best elapsed time of 4.530 seconds at 322.34 mph. Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Pontiac Dragster stays No. 2, Don Lampus is third, Gary Scelzi is fourth and David Grubnic is fifth.

The 4th annual Matco Tools SuperNationals is the 22nd on the 23-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Television coverage of final elimination's can be seen on Sunday October 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

PRO STOCK

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "Well we knew it would be tough to hold on to the No. 1 spot. We're happy with the car and how it's been running. We are looking forward to tomorrow and hope to be in the finals at the end of the day. Kurt ran a great lap that last session. I think tomorrow will be a good showing for all of us."

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) -- "For the first time in a while, the chassis is responding to our changes. Three of our qualifying passes were the nicest runs we've made with the CENTURY 21 Firebird in the last six months. Unfortunately, lately we just don't seem to have the power to take full advantage of what the car is doing, and we're working to find a solution. We swapped motors after our first pass this morning, but it didn't seem to make a difference, so we will go back to the motor we had been running for tomorrow's first round. We'll also make some changes to the tune-up trying to see if we can find some more horsepower. If we can put it all together, we could do well. I know it won't be for lack of trying."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "He hasn't been showing it this weekend but he's the new champ. This will be a tough race right off the bat but I'm pretty confident in our Valspar Pontiac. We've made four great laps down this track so in my mind we're halfway there. If I have four more good laps tomorrow, we'll be in the Winner's Circle. I'm having a lot of fun this weekend. This is our home track and we have a lot of friends and family here. Plus, some of the guys from Valspar are with us so maybe this home crowd will help me get a win. I know I have the car to get it done because Tommy and John (Utt, crewmen) have this track figured out. I just need to take care of my part of the deal, which is driving the car the best I can, and we'll have as good a chance as anyone. No matter what happens tomorrow I need to do better than those two guys," Stevens said. "The last three or four races have all been great chances for me to catch them and this race is no different. I just need to go out there and do my job and the points chase will take care of itself. I'm ready to go right now."

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We're just out learning some stuff, experimenting. Three races left to experiment at a national event track, so we're getting ready for next year. Today, given with what we're running, we're happy with where we're at. We'll take what we've got and work with it. We'll be competitive tomorrow; I don't think there was anyone quicker than Kurt or I in the right hand lanes. It's just a matter of keeping lane choice, it appears there's a little bit of difference between the two lanes so we'll have to stay with that and see what we can do."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "There's a big difference between the left and the right lane. Running that 6.93 in the left lane in the heat of the day is pretty good. If we could've been over there last night I think we could've run a 6.91. But the problem is tonight we're back in the right lane and the air is going to get good and we're going to have to step up. We're going to have to run a 6.92 to be able to move up in the field and stay in the top half. We're searching through our notebooks trying to figure out what we're going to do next."

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - We're just not getting a hold of the track. It's going through low gear and then shaking going into second. We've had it where we have too much clutch and then we've had it where we don't have enough clutch. We just can't find its weak spot. We're going to have to make some tire changes and see if that will help us. It's just been really frustrating to not even make a good run. It just keeps shaking and going sideways every run. We're trying to go through all the scenario's from other runs that we've made at other tracks with this kind of problem and see what kind of adjustments to make. Fortunately I think this next session will be better then the first one today. We're just not confident enough about knowing what to do, to feel real good about going up there to be quite honest with you.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "Well we were the third fastest in that last session so that keeps us positive for tomorrow. We're hoping for some great runs tomorrow and hopefully we'll get this Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird to go some rounds."

FUNNY CAR

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "After our bad luck last night we wanted to get the car to the finish line in this first pass. I told my dad if it started to spin down there I was going to keep my foot in it as long as I could, and that's what I did. For the last couple of hundred feet it was spinning pretty hard and the motor was really coming up. So it served the purpose of getting us down there, but we're two-tenths from where we should be and where we plan on being. We will have to swap motors before this last session, we ran it so hard down there it actually split the block. We just dodged a huge bullet that the thing held together and didn't totally blow up."

After second session: "We got behind last night, when we were on an unbelievable run and the blower sheared loose. That was a total fluke. So we came out here today needing to get down the track in the first pass, which we did but not as fast as we wanted to. By tonight, it was crunch time and we hadn't yet made the kind of pass that would give you the confidence or the baseline to hang it out there and run a low 4.90. We never got a handle on the top-end, we kept spinning the tires out there. And going into this race there were only four of us without a DNQ: Force, Capps, Epler, and me. We did this last year too, got with in three races of the end of the season before we DNQd. Unbelievable."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "It's a weird thing out here, you've got some really stout numbers at the top and then the bottom half is mostly cars that haven't gotten A to B at top speed yet. When the bump is in the teens you'd think a 4.94 would get you better than sixth, but that's where we are. We fixed a front-end alignment deal a bit this morning, and it went straight down the track, with all eight lit the whole way. Last night's run was one of the more difficult I've had to drive through, and this one was one of t/he easier. It just purred right down the track."

After second session: "Man, oh man, was it running. It was on my personal best I can tell you that. But I could tell in there it wanted more power, more clutch, more of everything. It was flying down there and then the RPM's started to come up just a bit and 'BOOM' the concussion was so great it blew the windshield out and lifted my visor up. There was a quick little flash fire, but we got that out in a hurry and got it to a stop. We hurt the body a little, buy it can b e fixed. We need to make up for all this tomorrow, we really need a good day." No. 10 qualifier - 4.949et/305.84mph

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "Yesterday was a good day for us. We had high hopes last night but the track was a lot better then what we thought it would be. We were on a real good run this last session, it was just too greasy down track and we smoked the tires. But this e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird is running really good for us right now. Hopefully we can go some rounds tomorrow and keep lane choice. We're pretty confident and are hoping for the best. This team has been working hard to get this car where it is right now. Hopefully we can keep plugging away."

After second session: "The track kept getting cooler and cooler and Alan (Johnson) told me to go for the pole. We made some changes so it wouldn't spin the tires. We were hoping we made the right decision. It was either going to haul some butt, or spin the tires. It hauled! This is a great feeling. (John) Force was first to congratulate me and that felt great. To get the pole for the first time was one of my goals. I have completed it. Now we want to go out and double up and win with Gary (Scelzi) my teammate. Alan Johnson and Richard Hogan think alike. The chemistry between them is remarkable. They deserve all the credit along with the whole team. I am really excited for tomorrow."

Tim Wilkerson (Levi Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird) - "We just couldn't get a hold of the track all weekend. Then finally we found the right set up that we needed in the last session. That's the kind of thing that you don't want to happen. It's hard going into the final session and not being in. What a spectacular job my team has done all weekend. I am really happy for them. I am also happy for my sponsors. We were wondering what was going on with our setup. We finally got it done. I am really looking forward to tomorrow now!!" No.

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - We were struggling all weekend. We really needed this one. My team has done a great job. They deserve a lot of credit. I am ready to go for tomorrow now!

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We smoked the tires yesterday in both sessions but it wasn't because we had too much clutch, it was just not enough power. So we hopped it up a little bit today and went at it aggressively. We were hoping we made the right call because if we didn't we were going to smoke the tires again, but it ended up being the right call. It worked perfectly and drove right down the track. It threw the rods out right before the finish line otherwise we would've run a little better yet. We're going to sit this last session out and get ready for tomorrow. That was the first time all year that we threw the rods out and the first time all season we oiled the track. We almost went all year without doing it. It's unfortunate. But the car did really well. So we're looking forward to tomorrow TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA Pontiac Dragster) - "Well today was not as good as yesterday but we're happy with the No. 2 spot. We were just to aggressive for the track today. But we did learn a lot and we're going to get ready for tomorrow now and hopefully end up in the finals."

Mike Dunn (New York Yankees Pontiac Dragster) - Running another session in the 4.50s in the heat of the day was what we wanted. We tried not to go crazy on that run and to just get the car down the track. We're just trying to get a handle on this thing and trying out all the new parts. Right now, we are either going to get down the track or not. That is just how it is right now. But we'll work on that. That's what these three races are for. If we can do what we've done all weekend tomorrow, I think we have a great chance of winning the race."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mike Dunn , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , David Grubnic , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Don Lampus , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.