Houston Sunday Pontiac Racing Report

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 12th ANNUAL O'REILLY NATIONALS SUNDAY, APRIL 11, 1999 HOUSTON, TEXAS PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We out thought ourselves and didn't get aggressive enough with the car. It was...

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 12th ANNUAL O'REILLY NATIONALS SUNDAY, APRIL 11, 1999 HOUSTON, TEXAS

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We out thought ourselves and didn't get aggressive enough with the car. It was so hot that we figured it would be very greasy out there and obviously it wasn't near as bad as we thought it was going to be. That's pretty much the way it was. We had it so soft on the starting line that we couldn't get a good reaction time out of it and then half way through low gear it just slowed way up. The rest of the race track was just fine. We just thought with all the junk the fuel cars were putting on the starting line it would get so greasy that we would just blow the tires off of it. We softened it up and it really didn't want to get that way. Overall we're real happy with the car. We're running this Firebird differently than we've ever run a car before and obviously, up until the semi-final round it was pretty decent - especially in qualifying. So we have to get more confidence in running a car that way. You always back up to where you had success in the past. Unfortunately that success wasn't derived with the same type of chassis setup that we have right now, so we just have to trust what we have and go with it. That setup that we used today is only five days old and once we get some more runs on it under these kind of conditions we'll be fine. Lost in round three

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) Performance-wise the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird is doing great, it's just that the driver didn't do his job today. The team gave me a fast car, put me out there to race and I just didn't let the clutch out on time. A better reaction time of just seven thousandths and we would have been able to win that round and go on to the semi-finals. We're going to stay here tomorrow and work on reaction times. Obviously we have a problem. Partly it's mechanical and partly it's mental but we're going to stay until we get it figured out. Right now I know there are some things we can do on the car to make it run quicker ETs and at the same time give me slower reaction times. But I'm definitely better than a .505 reaction time. We have to try some different stuff with the clutch and maybe a couple of different things with the chassis and see if we can't pick it up. Lost in round two

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) I've never had a reaction time like that. We've just been all over the place with this Pennzoil Firebird the last few races and I haven't had time to concentrate on just driving the car. I'm very disappointed. I need to work on my driving. We have made a lot of progress this weekend and I really feel like the car is back where it needs to be. I was just hoping for so much today. We are already making plans to test in St. Louis next week and the fact that I don't need to worry about the cars as much should help me concentrate on getting down the track. The fact that we were the quickest car that lost in the first round proves that we have a very quick car. We just need to put all of the pieces together at the same time. Lost in round one

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We both ran good in that second round and it's the first time we've gotten down the race track twice on a Sunday. The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird ran fairly fast both times and we're pretty confident that we're headed in the right direction but it just seems that Warren (Johnson) and Kurt (Johnson) have everybody covered right now in power. Next to them I think we were the two fastest cars of the session. Greg (Anderson) did a great job driving as well and my hat goes off to him for qualifying the other Summit Racing Firebird. Warren (Johnson) had us by a couple to three hundredths and as tough as it is and as competitive as it is, it just wasn't our day. We finally got our first round win of the year and that helps the crew to remain focussed on what we have to do to be successful. We're looking forward to Dallas, qualifying a little higher and running a little faster. We didn't make a very good run in the second round. But to qualify two cars in the top half of the field is an accomplishment in itself and to go two rounds with two cars is even better. We made considerable progress here this weekend and we're happy with that but we need to keep moving in that direction. We made a pretty good run in that left lane. We were in that lane yesterday morning and ran the 6.94 so we knew how to get down it. I'll be getting in the new car pretty soon because we feel it's faster. I think the motor may be a little better too but when you have a customer you have to take care of him. Lost in round two

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) Initially we spun real hard off the line and when I put it in third it made a sharp move to the right. By the time I put it in fourth I looked over and he was catching me. With the advantage I had at the light, the Century 21 Pontiac Firebird needed only to run a 6.98 to win. Unfortunately, we couldn't pull it off. Our setup is so fine right now that if we hit it close to perfect it's great. When the setup's off, we're way off. After this weekend, I'm pretty confident that now we can adjust it and feel confident with the changes we're making. Tomorrow we're going to test here and work on getting through third gear without spinning the tires and shaking. We also had Spike Tail in today and we may have missed the tune up on the motor a bit. It's a little different than Raptor. We'll get it better tomorrow. Another test session here and there and this program's going to be busting out. Lost in round one

FUNNY CAR

Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) You're always looking for the win, but our secondary goal is to go to the semi finals because that's how you rack up the points and that's how you win races. The Interstate Batteries Firebird has ran well all weekend. We had low elapsed time of the first round and despite the fact the car's a bit heavy, we had a solid second round and gave it good run in the semi finals. I think overall it was a solid weekend, everyone has their chin up, we're pressing forward and now we're looking forward to Dallas. This is one thing we didn't do last year. We'd either win or go out in the first round. Now we've proved that we can get past first round, we're coming together as a team and those are all positives. I've been around long enough to know that we're going to win our share of races. We're racing smart and the fact that we set low elapsed time in a couple of rounds says a lot. We're not hanging our heads, we're just moving on to the next one. Lost in round three

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) That race against Cruz (Pedregon) has to be the best race of the weekend. It's too bad that one of the cars that lost was a Pontiac Firebird. The JCIT car did exactly what it was supposed to do yesterday morning. It had the exact same tune up in it. In fact it was a couple of hundredths behind yesterday morning's run. That's okay, if we wait long enough it seems that the weather comes to our tune up. When we go to Dallas we'll be running right there with the top competitors. I had the worse light I had all weekend and unfortunately it couldn't have been a little better. I had a .480 light in the first round and a .540 light in the second round so I don't know where my head was there. The car ran straight down the middle of the track so we're confident that we have our chassis problem figured out. Even though we lost such a close race, the team's spirits are up and that's really all that matters. My guys are smiling, Terry's (Manzer) smiling, John's (Costanza) smiling and everybody's smiling but me. My smile will come though. Morale's good around here and that may be the most important ingredient of them all for a winning program. Lost in round two Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) We put the No. 7 cylinder out, it shook real hard and shook a piece of the fuel system loose. I couldn't get back into it after that. When I did it sprayed fuel on the windshield and I knew what was coming after that. We also had a magneto problem. The shaft came loose and backed up by about eight degrees and that could have been fuel system we got here. The weekend didn't go as well as we would have liked but it could have been worse. It's still pretty early in the season but we have to get this Pontiac Firebird out there and win some rounds or we're going to be in trouble. We'll have time to sit down and evaluate what happened and then we'll see if we can't cure our dropped cylinder dilemma. Obviously the air has a lot to do with it but that's no excuse. We'll fix it and go on from here. Lost in round one

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We had a pretty good weekend and a pretty good Sunday. But if you have to go out there and beat a 4.78 here in April then we've got our hands more than full. That would entail us skipping over the bottom half of the 4.90s and the 4.80s all together. We pushed a head gasket out at around 900 feet so that was it. I saw fire coming out from under the dash and Force's car getting real little in the distance. It was over. We're making a lot of progress on the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird and we're running better than we really ever have. But we're not quite capable of that sort of craziness. A 4.78 is pretty awesome, and I'm not sure what the answer to that is, not just yet anyway. We'll keep working on it and we will get quicker. Lost in round three

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) I over thought the whole situation. I was too up for Densham and I just made a mistake. I double stepped it and caught it the first time. I grabbed the brake and it was still good and I don't know what happened. My brain went South and I lost it. I hit the gas, saw the red light and decided I wasn't going to run it after that because they would have killed me if I would have run it through. But if anyone besides me is going to win I'd like to see Densham do it. He's my best friend out here and if it can't be me then I'd like to see him win. I know that the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird would have been competitive today. I don't know if we could have out run Densham because he ran 5-flat, but it would have been a good race. This car's been surprising us lately so nothing is unexpected. If the conditions are good in Dallas we may break into the fours. The bottom line is that this weekend was going pretty good until the driver had brain fade. We shot ourselves in the foot and when that happens you don't even give yourself a chance. Lost in round one

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (McDonald's/MBNA) We definitely straightened out our oiling problem which is a big plus. The guys got it figured out and got us headed back in the right direction. Today we had some parts failure while winning decisively and that took us out. There's not much you can do about that. We're thinking about doing some testing before Dallas because we need to get ready for those back-to-back races at Dallas and Richmond. We want to make sure the MBNA/Pontiac Top Fuel Dragster is going to be ready. That's our biggest issue right now. We've had some success at both venues and we just need to pull it all together and keep going. Advancing to the semi-finals definitely helped us all the way around especially points-wise. It really moved us up. We just need to keep on beating the drum. We'll be throwing the whole trailer at the track at Dallas to see what it will take and we'll back it up from there. The weather changes day to day out there and we'll have to wait and see. But if it's anything like it was here it will be interesting. Lost in round three

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson