Indianapolis: Pontiac Racing preview

INDIANAPOLIS (August 22, 2000) - The 46th annual U.S. Nationals gets underway next weekend, and many competitors are working feverishly this week at Indianapolis Raceway Park to get their hot rods up to optimum performance during some pre-event...

INDIANAPOLIS (August 22, 2000) - The 46th annual U.S. Nationals gets underway next weekend, and many competitors are working feverishly this week at Indianapolis Raceway Park to get their hot rods up to optimum performance during some pre-event testing. Some of the drivers gave us their thoughts on what it will take to win the series' most prestigious event and what they are doing to prepare.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "Indy has always been a prestigious race. It's always been one on my list to win. We were runner-up here in Super Gas in 1981 and we were runner-up in Pro Stock to Warren Johnson in 1994. I remember the chill I got going in front of the crowd after the finals with people cheering, clapping and a standing ovation. Obviously we would like nothing more than to put this in our portfolio as one of the races we've won. I've been to the finals here twice, so we know how to get our Summit Racing Firebird to the championship round but you never know what's going to happen on race day."

On testing at IRP: "We've got a bunch of stuff to test. Our laundry list is miles long and if we get through a quarter of it we'll be lucky. We just want to make sure the car goes down the track right. This track has gotten to be a pretty rough racetrack. We also have motor stuff to test and some items on the chassis as well. We're just trying to get our parts and pieces sorted out so that we know what direction to go in when we get our new cars next year. We're here to make runs and to try and improve our program. Unfortunately this race has always been a Friday night qualifying deal. I'm just hoping it doesn't end up being that this year where if you don't make a good run on Friday night you might not be racing on Monday. This race has been notorious for that."

Cory McClenathan (MBNA Pontiac Dragster) "Everybody wants to win Indy -- it's always a big race. 1996 was the first time I won at the U.S. Nationals, and that was the year that Blaine Johnson passed away so that was something that sticks out to me. As sad as that was it was memorable because everyone came together that weekend even though things weren't looking good. It was kind of a bleak weekend but to be able to win that race was big for us. Especially in Indy - our hometown, this is our place. But then we won last year against Cowin, which I was more nervous to run against him then Bernstein or Scelzi because he was virtually unknown until that race. When you race an unknown you don't know what's going to happen. So as far as that went, I just wanted to make sure I did my job and not get a red light. Indy for us is as big as it is for the guys that run the Indy 500 or the Brickyard 400. I mean this is big for us. If you're not having a good year, which we're not, this is the one you want to win. We won the Winston Showdown, and that was some big money there, and this one is next in line for the big money. I would definitely like to win this one. The only downside is that this race used to count for double points but it doesn't anymore. We're excited and that's why we're here testing this week."

On testing at IRP - "We're trying a lot of different things on the car, and we might even be trying out stuff for next year so we can get an early start on things. Championship-wise, we're out of it. Finishing in the top three, we're out of it. But if we get our stuff together, and with a little bit of luck we may be able to finish in the top five. That is what I'm shooting for right now. We hope to finish out the season well for MBNA and Pontiac and all our other sponsors."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) "I made it to the semifinals about three years ago and that was probably the best we've run here. What's memorable about this race is that come race day, the track has the longest bald spot in the history of drag racing! It can be one of the most difficult tracks to get down. The left lane is usually the best of the two but it is one hard track to get down."

On What It Will Take To Make The Show - "We hope to be able to go out on Friday night of qualifying and be ready because that is the session to get in. At least in the past that has been the case. I feel real good about being able to accomplish that. I think we will have some real power in the Eagle One Firebird and hopefully we can get out of the slump that we've been in. I'm real proud of my team and the work they've been doing. They work real hard and they deserve a lot of credit. Mike Edwards is just doing an amazing job. I just need to get over my fear of the tree again, but I'm looking forward to the U.S. Nationals and think we'll do pretty good."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "Indy is memorable in itself. Everyone looks at this race as the one to win on the schedule. It's a long week filled with lots of emotion. It wears you out. You work so hard, and our crew works so hard, that when it's all over, you want something to celebrate about. We're coming off a great weekend in Brainerd and we hope to continue that here in Indy. We feel we have a pretty good racecar in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird but we know it's going to be a tough race. We also know that everyone is working towards one goal and that's to win. We just hope it's our turn. We've had a pretty good year. We're in the Bud Shootout and we face John Force in the first round. He's been tough all year but we feel we have the car and the ability to outrun him. I guess only time will tell."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Del Worsham , John Force , Ron Krisher , Cory McClenathan , Mike Edwards