Indianapolis: Pontiac-GMC Racing Sunday notes

CLERMONT, Ind. (September 3, 2000) - Qualifying for the Pro Stock Trucks continued today for the 46th annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Mike Coughlin took the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time 7.605 seconds at ...

CLERMONT, Ind. (September 3, 2000) - Qualifying for the Pro Stock Trucks continued today for the 46th annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Mike Coughlin took the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time 7.605 seconds at 176.49mph. Don Smith is second, Randy Daniels is third, John Lingenfelter and the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is fourth, and Steve Jones is fifth. Rick Jones qualified 19th and David Spitzer was 25th.

Television coverage of the Big Bud Shootout for Funny Cars can be seen on TNN on Sunday, September 3, beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern. First-round coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Monday, September 4, beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern. Final-round coverage can be seen beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

John Lingenfelter (Summit Racing GMC Sonoma) - "Well we went a little bit faster. We're still learning and we're still working very hard. We're fourth now, and hopefully we can get this Summit Racing GMC Sonoma back up to the top spot in the next session. (Randy) Daniels and (Bob) Panella are stepping up as we expected, so we just need to step up a little bit more. We're still very pleased on how things are going and are looking forward to the next session. I know we can pick up, and I know my team really wants to pick up. So, I think we should have a good clean run in the next session."

Rick Jones (Country Motors Trailer Sales GMC Sonoma) - "We guessed wrong on the tune-up for this morning. We just missed it. That was a bad run. We get the left lane tonight and we're the very last truck of the session. So, hopefully we will get back in the show. We lost three spots in that round. We went from 14th to 17th. That means we're not in. We will have to work very hard to get this Country Motors Trailer Sales GMC Sonoma back in the show. I know we can do it, it's just a matter of doing it. I'm still confident but this does put on a damper on things. We will just have to keep working and hopefully get in a good run in the next session."

David Spitzer (Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma) - "I don't know what is wrong. Nothing is going right. That was my worse 330 time of the weekend. Everyone else picked up three or four hundredths. Why we didn't - who knows. I wish I had better news to talk about but I don't. The only good news I have is that we're towards the back of the pack tonight and hopefully that will work towards our advantage. We have one more shot and that's it. I hope we can get a good run in this Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma.

In Pro Stock, Mark Osborne holds on to the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 6.976 seconds at 196.39 mph. Ron Krisher and the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is qualified second, Kurt Johnson is third, Warren Johnson and the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac is fourth, and Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird is fifth. Richie Stevens Jr. is qualified seventh, Tom Martino is 10th, Bruce Allen is 12th, Brad Jeter is 14th, and Jim Yates is 15th.

In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 4.963 seconds at 301.27mph. John Force is qualified second, Ron Capps is third, Tony Pedregon is fourth, and Cristen Powell is fifth. Frank Pedregon and the CSK Pontiac Firebird is qualified sixth, Tim Wilkerson is ninth, Bruce Sarver is 11th, Cruz Pedregon is 12th, Jerry Toliver is 13th, and Del Worsham is 15th. Gary Densham qualified 19th, Al Hofmann was 21st and Dale Creasy Jr. was 22nd.

In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta took the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 4.622 seconds at 310.84 mph. Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Pontiac Dragster qualified second with an elapsed time of 4.655 seconds at 317.57 mph. Bob Vandergriff is qualified third, Tony Schumacher is fourth, and Larry Dixon is fifth.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "If the conditions tomorrow were the same as they are tonight, I'd say we would be in good shape for eliminations since that was the quickest run out there. Tomorrow the track will probably be quite different, however, and we're going to have to make the right adjustments. We'll look at what the track gave us, look at the changes we've made over the last three days, and try to make an intelligent decision. Without question, the track is different this year than it has been every other time I've raced at Indy. Rick Stewart (NHRA starter) has manicured the starting line differently and more regularly and that shows up in the lack of bald spots that we've seen in the past."

Mark Osborne (Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm tickled to death that we're No. 1 qualifier at the U.S. Nationals. Steve Schmidt, all the guys at the crew and engine shop, John Fairleigh, everyone has just worked very, very hard to put us here. I can't say enough about how happy I am and hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow. I think we'll probably take that left lane. We run Jeggie (Coughlin) in the first round and all these guys are tough, but in 1998 I beat him five times so there's no reason why I still can't beat him. I was No. 1 qualifier here last year in the trucks and didn't have very good luck. Two years I got here and got beat by Warren (Johnson) in the semifinals by a thousandth. We'll just have to see what happens."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "The weekend hasn't been too bad. The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird isn't the fastest car out here but we've been consistent, and as tricky as this racetrack has been it's not all bad. We've made some pretty decent runs. We're going to try and improve a little more, and although we're happy with where we are now in the show, the cloud cover could come in tonight and change things around. It doesn't feel as hot as it's been and the last session tonight could be the best of the weekend. Last night was a fantastic evening for Summit Racing at the Car Craft All-Star Awards ceremony. For Fred Hahn to get Pro Mod driver of the year, and for Summit Racing Equipment to get the professional sponsor of the year says what a great company it truly is. They spend a lot of money in motorsports in both NHRA, IHRA and with good quality teams. John Hedges from Summit Racing said that they want to win races, but most importantly, they want good quality teams that can represent them on and off the racetrack. They have a class group of racers out here. We look at trying to represent them in such a way and it's nice to know that they recognize that. I've been with them for eight straight years and I'm looking forward to another eight. It's just nice to have a sponsor that is so understanding and so committed to our sport as they are. You never know. Winning the U.S. Nationals is the next race on our list. We want to do the best we can. I'm also happy for Pontiac getting manufacturer of the year. Fred Simmonds and the whole GM group has worked hard over the years and they deserve the recognition for what they do for our sport."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We dug ourselves into a really, really deep hole when we got here. Every run we kept thinking we were going to figure it out, but our book on the combination we're running is so shallow that we don't have a lot of experience with it. We kept bumping against that experience level. We changed the combination this morning and the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird went out and made a pretty nice hit. We came back and Terry (Adams) just made some awesome calls. He saw some things that he thought were wrong, the car responded perfectly and went right down the racetrack doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I think we're coming back. I know qualifying 15th at Indy may say otherwise, but starting off as deep in the hole as we were, and as confused as we were, coming back as a team really gave me a lot of confidence in this group. Working together we ran within a couple hundredths of the fastest cars tonight. I feel confident that there's a little left in it after that run. There were a couple of things we did wrong but we can fix that. We wanted to be conservative, we wanted to get down the racetrack and run a 7.01 or 7.02. The car had a 7.01 in it, but I messed up and gave us an .02. I'm just thankful we're where we are.

On The Back Injury: "My back is absolutely killing me. I can get in the car and once I get in the car I'm okay. I just stay in it all day, except when the motor's running. When the motor's running it shakes my back a lot. When it shakes the tire like it did on three of our five qualifying runs, I can hardly get out of the car. I have to wait for the team to come down and help me get out. This morning I had a Safety Safari guy help me out. Tonight after we qualified I jumped right out, but I'm paying the price right now. I can sit down all day and I can stand up for a half a day. I get in the car early to work the kinks out. I hurt it at Brainerd and then aggravated it last week at the shop." Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "Camp Martino was a little hectic about two hours ago. Now it's actually pretty calm. We've been fighting our engine tuneup. We made four nice runs out of our five qualifying attempts. It didn't look like it on the sheet from the elapsed times we put up, but car wise, we changed the rear housing and the Century 21 Pontiac Firebird is a completely changed machine. We were lucky enough that on our first run on that housing we hit it close. We kept that combo for the first three sessions and made three nice runs without going as fast as we should have. We thought maybe the car setup didn't like the suspension setup, so we changed the suspension setup and made a horrible run this morning. Se went back and worked on the motor tune up big time for tonight and it responded. Who knows? I'm happy. We have Richie Stevens in the first round tomorrow. He's been very consistent and he has lane choice. We think if we go more in the direction we're going and make a little more power then we just might win that first round."

David Reher (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We made a decent run last night. We shook the tires a little but it recovered. We were fortunate to have that 7.01 because today we missed the whole deal from start to finish. We're a little bit disappointed with what we've done so far this weekend because we ran well in Brainerd. We didn't think we would come here and duplicate that because the No. 1 qualifying run there was just an excellent pass. We missed an opportunity yesterday morning with an oil leak. That got us behind and now we're just trying to catch up. When you get a couple of clutch adjustments behind, or a link behind, you feel like you're working out of a hole but I think tonight we can make another good run. It's hard to say what will happen tomorrow. I like our chances a lot more now than I would have a few races ago because we've been able to make all of our runs. We got into a rut where we were shaking the tires a lot and since then we've changed the car and tried a different approach on the Reher-Morrison Firebird. We're on a better course now and I like our chances a lot better. This has been a great year in Pro Stock because we've had a lot of different winners. This class is truly an eliminator now because anything can happen."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - ""We're in the show and looking pretty good in the top half of the field. I don't know how I could ask for much more than that. We made four consistent runs and they were all very close to the same as far as the way our engine looked on the computer graphs. We learned in Seattle a few weeks ago that consistency like that can win us the race. I like the way things are shaping up for us. I feel very confident in the Valspar Pontiac and I like the way I have been driving the car this weekend. I'm in a very comfortable zone and I've been hitting good lights. It would be great for all of us on this team if I can go some rounds tomorrow and put myself in a position to win this race. We have a big group of friends and sponsors here and they've all been having some fun because we're in a good mood and the car is running strong. Indy is our Super Bowl and it would be awesome if we could find away to do something big tomorrow."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "Last night the car went left right off the starting line. I brought it back real quick, and when I did I shifted low and probably took off a hundredth to a hundredth and a half of a second. This morning we had something go through the carburetor when I put it on the mat. I let it sit there, and clear out but something got stuck in the float. Alderman got way out in front of me and I lost track of my shifts. I hit the rev limiter in third and I didn't make a good run. My teammates made a good run, I didn't make a good run. When the motor gagged and finally came back, Alderman was already in my line of sight. All of a sudden I stopped paying attention to what I was supposed to be doing. We'll get everything right tonight on the Eagle One Firebird and go right to No. 1."

FUNNY CAR

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We smoked them twice today, but the first run we were experimenting with some new tires. We were trying to break in a new set for raceday. Something didn't seem right so after that we went back to our old set. We came back and loaded the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird up for bear for the last pass because I didn't expect to keep the No. 1 spot. It almost stuck, it was really close. The initial numbers were the quickest this car's run all season so theoretically, it didn't look that good, but we're not as far off base as it did look. With the quickest numbers down low this car's ever run, I feel pretty good going into the first round tomorrow. Whit (Bazemore) and I have met before in the fist round. In Seattle he was No. 1 and I was 16th so he owes me one. I'm sure he's going to want a little bit of revenge but we're not going to let him have it. With the way the last session ended up, I don't think you could say there was a clear cut favorite. Nobody's been consistent, nobody's been dominant and nobody's really jumped in to take the favorite role. It's pretty wide open tomorrow. This is the first time that I've been in the top half of the field and hopefully having lane choice will play to our advantage."

Tim Wilkerson (Levi Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird) "We really came here with a new clutch program that we thought was good. We came to find out that it isn't conducive to the four-disc that we run. We actually had the clutch disc binding on the clutch shaft and the car wasn't wanting to run on the top end. It's been plenty fast early on every run we've made, so we knew if we went back to our old stuff it would probably be okay and sure enough it did. It went right down the racetrack at 5.01 doing what it was supposed to Friday night. That's okay. We put ourselves behind the eight-ball and now we're back. We're going to see if we can get this Levi Ray & Shoup Firebird down to a 4.95 or 4.96. I don't know if it will or not because the track's pretty slick and I still have the old body. Our car runs good early and that's what you have to do at a place like this. You have to act like you're running 4.70 early and then try and slow it down. We have a good program and we'll be ready for tomorrow. I have a lot of friends out here and a lot of people who help me. Scotty Cannon's guys gave me a bunch of discs or I'd have been stuck out here."

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "It's been pretty hectic since they threw our run out Friday night but rules are rules. That kind of got us down because we made such a good run and all weekend we've been struggling to get it back. That was the best opportunity we had to run because the track conditions were the best. We changed a bunch of stuff from yesterday trying to hop it up. I just want to get this Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird down the racetrack without hurting it. We've been doing that most of the year but I think we finally have that figured out. We had a little blow up yesterday when I shut it off, but we couldn't find anything wrong so we changed everything -- mags, blower, pump, everything."

Jim Dunn (Crew Chief of the Mooneyes/Red Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We just got off on the wrong foot all together. We blew rods out off of both motors yesterday, and we think it was the clutch in that last run. So we're putting a new clutch on it now. We've been fighting this clutch all weekend. We've also been running new stuff that we haven't used before. Realistically if your not in on Saturday, you might as well pack it up on Sunday and go home, because after so many cars have been down the track it starts to put bald spots out there and that's bad for the Funny Cars. But we just have to pick up and go on. If you can't take getting beat sometimes then you might as well get out of the sport. That's all apart of drag racing. The Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird should be in the show but we're not. A lot of good cars are even at the bottom of the pack, and some of the others stepped up quite a bit. We will be ready for Englishtown and hopefully put this race out of our memory."

Cruz Pedregon (Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird) - "I feel pretty good going into tomorrow. We made three runs and we're happy with each of them. Of course you always think you can do better but considering the weather conditions and the budget we're working with, we feel pretty good. We are focused on tomorrow. I think it's going to take a 4.99 or 5.00 to win the first round tomorrow. We're just going to take it one round at a time. We are very happy with this being our third straight qualifying race in a row with the new Firebird body. Everything is going pretty good for us and we are very happy for Teller Quick and Pontiac. I just hope tomorrow we can make everyone a little happier!"

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, first of all I'm awfully disappointed. When we had such bad luck like yesterday, and we worked so hard and so long to be ready for this, in your heart you think its meant to be that you'll win. But something was a little off with the chassis, and maybe that happened when we blew the tire last night. Its totally fixable I think, it just left the line and went right until it was out of the groove and then there was nothing I could do. Horsepower-wise, we had him covered, but the fluke stuff bites us again and the car didn't go straight. We'll sort it out before the last session. I do want to thank my team and John Chindemi, the graphics guy who stayed with us until 2:00 am to get this black car ready. We'll focus all our energy on the race tomorrow now."

Final Session of Qualifying: "A couple of times this year we've had a problem with broken push rods and it always seems to crop up right there. I've gotten to where I can hear the problem pretty well. It was up to me to shut it off and I did, the risk was way greater than it was worth, especially considering we were safely in the show and only have this new black body to run tomorrow."

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) - "The car is running really well. That 4.67 in the right lane is really good. That right lane isn't worth anything, so we knew we weren't going to beat (Doug) Kalitta's 4.62. But we're qualified second and if we're lucky it will be the No. 1 and the No. 2 in the finals. We have been running pretty consistent for as warm as it has been and the way the track has been. So I'm very confident going into tomorrow and hope to go several rounds and run in the finals!"

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Series NHRA
Drivers Fred Hahn , Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Richie Stevens Jr. , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Randy Daniels , Mike Coughlin , John Lingenfelter , Dale Creasy Jr. , Scotty Cannon , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Steve Schmidt , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Tommy Johnson Jr. , Cristen Powell