Indianapolis Pontiac Racing Notes

PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We came here, and tested and thought we had a pretty good combination on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird because we ran very well in testing. So we came back for the race and found...

PRO STOCK Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We came here, and tested and thought we had a pretty good combination on the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird because we ran very well in testing. So we came back for the race and found that the conditions were different and we tried to adapt here like we normally would. But the car kept running slower, and slower and slower. We knew we couldn't run the same combination that we used in testing, but after we made the changes, we realized that nothing was working. We went back the other way in the last run against Warren (Johnson) and the engine really responded. It ran really good speed, and it ran good from the eighth-mile to the finish line. It spun the tires pretty hard because we had a lot more power in the engine and we couldn't control it in first and second gear. We're really enthused about our progress this weekend. We're going to stay here tomorrow and test, see how it runs, take all of the motors back and make sure they're fresh and head to the Keystones. Now all we have to do is change transmissions and we'll be back in business --get the gear a little closer to zero and take advantage of this power we have."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We have to keep working on what we're doing because it seems to be effective. We didn't make the right calls in the second round, but it would have been a good race. We both ran the same e.t. in the first round, but in the second round I messed up when I staged and put both lights on. I never do that. I'm still driving better and the Summit Racing Firebird is running more consistent. The only ingredient missing is a little of that winner's luck. We'll keep beating on parts, try to make a little bit more power and see what happens. We have one of our motors in the finals (Greg Anderson) and that shows we have the power to win races. Once we get all of the pieces in we'll win a race. Losing lane choice for the second round really hurt us because in that session it seems that the lane really started to go away. I don't think anybody during the second round won from that lane. It seemed kind of greasy because there wasn't a lot of racetrack there when I made the second gear change. That's where we got into trouble spinning the tires and shaking all the way down. Again, it shows how important lane choice is and when you give it up you put yourself at risk of going home early. It's like the visiting football team giving up a touchdown in a close game. When you have cars as close as a thousandth of a second in qualifying, you can't afford to give up the smallest advantage."

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "In the first round we were a little light on the clutch and didn't plant the chassis quite as hard as we could've. Normally we would have been okay, but there's a pretty wicked bump in that right lane at about third gear. When the Dynomax Pontiac Firebird went over the bump, the car absolutely came unhooked. To top things off, Jeggie (Coughlin) broke a motor and was like a sitting duck out there, so you could say that things just didn't go our way. We were right there at the starting line with him, and took our best shot but that's drag racing. I feel good about the horsepower we're making with this DRCE engine and also its consistency. We'll be ready to go at the Keystone Nationals and hopefully we can get our first win there."

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "We've had a good weekend even when you consider the extent of our accident on Saturday. The Pennzoil Firebird shouldn't be too difficult to fix. We'll have it ready to test in St. Louis and then we'll be go on to the next event at Reading.

Hopefully we won't have an accident like that again. We've corrected the parachute problem by putting the air-lock chutes on the car. Again, I can't say enough how much we appreciate Jim (Yates) letting us use his racecar. That's good for everybody, it's good for the fans and it's good for the sport. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to get the car where we could get the tune up exactly right. We shook in second gear, but all in all it was a good weekend. I'm going to focus on getting a win during the next two months. I think if we can make a move here beginning with Reading, then maybe we can get into the top 10 in the points standings. That will be our goal for the final six races of the season."


Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "I don't know exactly what the car was trying to do, but the Interstate Batteries Firebird was pulling hard to the left side. I was jerking on the wheel trying to get it back to the right, and all of a sudden the clutch locked up and it started spinning the tires. We put a couple of holes out too. It was a close race but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of it. The car had great consistency all weekend. I don't know if the sun coming out threw us a curve, but it's disappointing when you're so heavily favored not to carry it on through. The guys on the team did a great job this weekend and they're as hungry as I am to win a race; probably hungrier. I guess today it just doesn't pay to be one of the favored cars. I'm going to remember what I learned from this weekend and we'll go on from here. The tune up on the car is ready to race and we'll shoot for that No. 1 spot again in Reading. Our consistency is getting better, and if we keep that up we're bound to win a race sooner or later."

Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California Pontiac Firebird) "We should have won here this weekend. Our NEC Firebird ran great and I thought coming in this morning that we had just as good a shot at winning this race as anything we've done all year. We struggled through the middle of the year and we seem to have put our act together here in the last couple of months. The car was running fast and consistent and in the first round it was running even better than it had all weekend. We had Whit (Bazemore) covered pretty well and then a burst panel failed. It didn't blow it out it just failed. We're hyped. We would race tomorrow if we could. The car's running better than it has all year and now it's our turn to win races. They always say it's a 25-cent part that fails. This time it was a $20 part, but it still failed and it shouldn't have. It's a very tight field right now. Anytime you have a field that qualifies within a tenth-and-a-half of a second from first through 16, it can be your day as well as the next guys. I figure our team is working hard, I'm doing the best that I can, we just have to get a few breaks and we'll be there." Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth-Volvo Pontiac Firebird) "If I were passing grades out today I would give our effort this weekend an A- really. I think we could have done a little bit better and maybe I could have made some better decisions, but under the circumstances, considering how quickly we put this deal together, and how fast everything went down, I was pretty happy with it. If I can get this Firebird to respond the way we would like it to, we're going to be tough. We were on a mid-4.90 this morning and just got out of the groove. I couldn't get it corrected quick enough and I lost it. Anyway, I just need to do a little better and we'll get there. Good, bad or indifferent, I'm tuning this car myself and so far it's working out okay. The problems that we're having cover a wide spectrum. In the past, I've come to Indianapolis and done pretty well, so going out in the first round here today is the worst finish I've had at the U.S. Nationals since I started racing here as a pro in 1996. When we go to Dallas and Topeka and race on good tracks like that, we'll probably struggle a little bit. The more runs we get under our belt though, the better we're going to be. You see that with other teams and that will be the case with this one."

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "We'll have this Mad Magazine Firebird back together for Reading. We got another body, we'll just have to get it painted and the decals put on. Right now, we're almost done. It's just a matter of putting the plumbing in the right spaces and that going to take some time. We're getting all of the lines and two weeks from now we'll be ready. When we get to the Keystone Nationals, we'll be concerned with getting down the racetrack because that's something we haven't done there in a while. If I can get it down through there we'll be capable of running some good numbers. But we're ready to go right now. I can't stand being at the track on raceday without competing; especially at Indy."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Tommy Johnson Jr.