Houston Pontiac Racing Saturday Notes

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL MATCO TOOLS SUPERNATIONALS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1998 HOUSTON, TEXAS HOUSTON, Tex. (October 31, 1998) - When racing begins at Houston Raceway Park tomorrow morning at 11 a.m., Cruz Pedregon's Interstate...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES SECOND ANNUAL MATCO TOOLS SUPERNATIONALS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1998 HOUSTON, TEXAS

HOUSTON, Tex. (October 31, 1998) - When racing begins at Houston Raceway Park tomorrow morning at 11 a.m., Cruz Pedregon's Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird will be starting from the No. 1 qualifying position. Pedregon rocketed to the top spot during Friday night qualifying posting a career best, and track record performance number of 4.807ET / 319.60MPH. It is the 11th time this season that Pedregon has started Sunday eliminations from the pole position. Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Firebird is the highest qualified Pro Stock Pontiac in the No. 2 position while Jim Yates has his Splitfire/Peak Firebird qualified third.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) Actually, I believe the GM Goodwrench Firebird is in pretty good shape for tomorrow. We came in here with a little different approach knowing that the track was going to be different from Dallas, and really didn't get the combination sorted out until the last run, when we were the quickest car out there. I think we'll be all right, but we may need water wings for tomorrow. I didn't correct the last run today, but they were all within a hundredth or two of what we ran in Dallas, so they were close but not any better. It's just a matter of our not having the combination sorted out exactly for this race track. We got a little closer in that last session, but I don't think it is perfect yet. No. 2 qualifier - 6.923ET / 199.73MPH (event record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We started off pretty good yesterday. We were running our basic combination on the Splitfire/Peak Firebird that we came with from Dallas. We were happy with the numbers we were getting, but we were just lacking a little from the top cars. Today we tried a different gear ratio combination and it didn't work. We slowed down quite a bit compared to the rest of the pack. This afternoon we'll go back to our baseline, go over in the left lane which I believe is a little bit faster, and try to get a good baseline for tomorrow's first round of eliminations. We have a pretty good idea what conditions are going to be. They're calling for rain so we might get some overcast here on Sunday. What we want to do is go back to the baseline, see how that combination runs, tune up the engine a just a bit, change the fuel curve on the motor, and see if we can make more power from the eighth mile to the finish line. No. 3 qualifier - 6.935ET / 197.88MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We've decided to try a new motor in this session that we just got in from Ohio. Our dyno shows that it's really good and when you make consistent runs like we have been, it gives you the luxury of being able to test more. It gets your confidence level back up. We're happy with the way the Summit Racing Firebird has been running during the last two days and we want to keep it going.

Second Session: That engine wasn't too bad for the first run. It needs to be tuned up differently, but for putting it in and making it down the track, I was pretty happy. It would have qualified in the field. The Summit Racing Firebird is going to try and move forward. It's nice to know that we may have a dependable spare on the trailer. It gives us a little encouragement. The guys have been working really hard at the shop and on the team. Maybe we're finally starting to pull this thing together and move this program in the right direction. That's the best we've run in qualifying all year where we've made four good runs that would have put us in the show. We just don't want to have the same first round tomorrow that we had in Dallas. No. 6 qualifier - 6..946ET / 198.01MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) Considering the condition that the car is in right now, I don't think we'll go any faster than e just ran. We'll keep working and chasing every problem we can find, but it doesn't look good for us.

Second Session: We got a little closer to the field each run but there is something that's keeping us from joining the elite teams at this race. We just haven't found whatever the problem is. You can only do so much at a time. We're all working as hard as possible to get this Outlaw Firebird better. It's very tough to struggle like this. We feel bad for our sponsors and embarrassed for ourselves. All we can do is keep working at it and hopefully things will improve.

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) The track was fast and we were slow. We're off just a little bit somewhere. Overall, it was a pretty good run for the Pennzoil Firebird. We're just going to have to search for whatever's zapping our power. There is an outside shot that we'll be able to move up to the top half of the field this afternoon. A few guys managed to move up in this round and I don't think it will be too different in round four. They say every round is a battle so we'll keep on fighting.

Second Session: We appear to be in pretty good shape. We've been tweaking the clutch each round in an attempt to find the set-up we'll use on Sunday and I think we've accomplished that. We're all happy and proud to have four competitive times. Consistency is the key to success in this class and we've been consistent at this race so far. No. 10 qualifier - 6.977ET / 198.32MPH

Tom Martino (Jesel Valve Train Pontiac Firebird) Although we made some good runs, and qualified well, we're not where we want to be with this car.

We're consistently one of the fastest cars to 60 feet, but we lose about two hundredths in the middle, which is a problem we've never had before. We just adjusted the four-link for the eighth time trying to improve it, and my original setting is still the best. But the bottom line is we only have one more race after tomorrow with this car, so we're not going to go crazy with it. Our philosophy heading into eliminations is simple - we're going to get after it as hard as ever, and I'm going to drive hard, and hopefully we can get the Jesel Valve Train innovation Firebird to advance some rounds and give us a shot at winning the Matco Tools Supernationals tomorrow. No. 7 qualifier - 6.962ET / 197.54MPH

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) The game plan is to keep doing what we're doing and I'm just going to focus on what I have to do in the race car. I'm extremely confident that Wes Cerny and the crew are going to fix this car to where it will go down the race track. They were here to 1 o' clock in the morning getting this Interstate Batteries Firebird ready for today putting new equipment on the car. I'm just excited knowing that if we just do our thing, we're going to be tough to beat. Eleven No. 1 qualifiers says a lot about the team. There's a guy that I want to give some of the credit to and that's Jim Brissette. Jim and Wes talk a lot, knocking ideas off of each other, and the input that he gives to this program is invaluable. This team is the best, and I think the world of Wes Cerny, but I just want to give Jim Brissette the credit he deserves. There have been some times when he and Wes have been brain storming and I just walk away with a smile on my face knowing that they're going to do the right thing. Right now, winning is where our focus is. We're just going to take it one round at a time, and if it's our day, then we'll be doing some celebrating tomorrow night. Right now it's nose to the grindstone and each person on this team is going to do their thing. It's just like a football team where you have the quarterback and the rest of the players who make everything possible. The competition's so tough that we just have to be tougher. This car has some wounds on it, but it's still out there kicking, and tomorrow, we'll hope for the best. No. 1 qualifier - 4.807ET (track record) / 319.60MPH (track record)

Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) We dropped the No. 5 cylinder at about 1.1 seconds and we don't know why. Then we just sort of burned it up down there when I shut it off. We have the Parts America Firebird hopped up so much that there's no safety margin. But if you're not running 4.90 then you might as well go home. We had it tuned to run 4.78 that time. The air was looking good if the track would hold. But everyone was having trouble in front of us so we weren't sure if the track was going to hold. It's the same tune up we had last night. The air's just about 200 feet worse. Our 60 foot time was good, we dropped the cylinder at 1.1 seconds, and after that, everything went to pieces. Tomorrow we'll change mag boxes, coils, and spark plug wires to make sure that's not the problem, and we'll go up there and try and run a good lap. We still ran a 5.10 and that was about the fourth quickest that session. We can still win a round burning it up, but we have to try and keep that left lane because it's the best. So lane choice is going to be imperative.

No. 2 qualifier - 4.848ET / 318.92MPH

Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) There really wasn't much good about that run, but there hasn't been much good about the first two either. We were soft for the first lap and stepped it up just a hair too much last night. I mean, the Checkers/Schuck's/Kragen Firebird almost made it last night and would have run a 4.95 or so if it did. We got a little too conservative here. It shook so hard the tires finally busted loose. I caught it as soon as I could, then laid right back on it. We just couldn't afford to go down to the last pass without having popped the chutes at least once. Hopefully we can tune from here and get a full power lap here this afternoon. We have no reason to even be out here thinking about Sunday until we make a good pass. A 5.29 helps us with the next session, but I wouldn't want to be a guy who had no choice but to rest on that to get him in. It will take a total fluke for a 5.29 to make this program.

Second Session: I said after our 5.28 that it wouldn't hold for the field, and that we'd need to get the car down the track, run our basic good number, and take care of it ourselves. I guess we had a bit of a balance in our account at the luck bank because that really shouldn't have held up.

We're just having a bad time keeping it from shaking the tires. It's shaking so hard that they just bust loose and then we're all over the track. I tried to pedal it once, but it just went up in smoke, fishtailed and did everything ugly. We had Tony Pedregon in round one last weekend and beat him, so I guess we need to start thinking about our beat a Pedregon tune up and sort this thing out. After we ran, I didn't pay any attention to the rest of the cars. I figured someone would let us know if we stayed in and let us know if we didn't.

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) We're racing tomorrow and I guess that's better than a couple of folks out here. I think we were finally thrown a bone and I'm hoping it was more like one of those big giant turkey bones. It was a good run, it just spun the tires, locked the clutch up and moved over against the wall. Since I've already ruined one body this weekend, I decided that was enough and I shut it off. Tomorrow, we're going to take this JCIT Pontiac Firebird out there and do some good. I don't know what the deal is, but we're still trying to get these new clutch disks figured out. We still haven't got a handle on it but at least we haven't ruined the clutch. The clutch actually locked up so we have something to look at. We're very ready for tomorrow. We're getting short on this year and we want to win a race. Hopefully, things will go our way.

We just need a break.  The last four races have been a disappointment, but
we'll do the best we can tomorrow.  
No. 12 qualifier - 5.161ET / 222.00MPH      

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) It was going to make it, I just knew it. The Creasy Racing Firebird went through a little bit of a shutter, so I figured I would just stay with it. It cleared up, everything was going good and all of a sudden the blower belt broke. That's all it was. It was on a run from 5.15 to 5.20 and that would have been good enough to put us in the show. The motor's been good all weekend, we've just had things go wrong that we're not expecting. We're disappointed but that's the way it goes. No. 17 qualifier - 5.417ET / 240.12MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) We used some of those clutch disks that every one in the pits has been cursing and saying weren't any good. We put them in the GM Performance Parts Firebird, pretended like they were something we knew how to run, decided not to out trick them, and the darn things ran pretty good. The car had good numbers and I feel sorry for whoever draws us for tomorrow. We'll take the new body off the truck, the one that we used for most of the year, and use it tomorrow. That's why we put them away while they're still good so that when the time comes that we need them, we have them. It's no extra work here but it will be some where down the road. Everything looked good. We were running 250 mph to the eighth. The only other time we've run that fast was when we ran 4.85. It was doing pretty good before I lifted. It locked the clutch up, lifted the front end and I was doing everything I could to keep it straight. I knew it was going to be a good run and I didn't want to waste it. The only handicap from the run was that a piece of the body hit the computer switch and turned it off. But what are you going to do? No. 10 qualifier - 5.108ET / 296.73MPH

TOP FUEL

Shelly Anderson (Parts America/Pontiac) I think we're going to go back to Friday's setup to get ready for tomorrow. We lost a fuel pump, but that wasn't our fault, and then we had an ignition problem on the second run. We'll go back to Friday's setup, hopefully run in the 4.60s and surprise whoever's in the other lane. I think a low 4.60 will get you through the first round. It's supposed to be overcast and cloudy so I think later in the day we're going to need our quickest runs. No. 14 qualifier - 4.747ET / 251.04MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Shelly Anderson