Joliet: GM Racing finals summar

Ram Air Pontiac Grand Am delivers Windy City Pro Stock victory for Bruce Allen. JOLIET, Ill., June 2, 2002 - Although it took an NHRA-record 10 races to do it, Pontiac Grand Am driver Bruce Allen became the first repeat winner in the Pro Stock...

Ram Air Pontiac Grand Am delivers Windy City Pro Stock victory for Bruce Allen.

JOLIET, Ill., June 2, 2002 - Although it took an NHRA-record 10 races to do it, Pontiac Grand Am driver Bruce Allen became the first repeat winner in the Pro Stock category this year by beating Chevy Cavalier driver Tom Hammonds in the final round at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Allen, who drove the new SC/T Ram Air Pontiac Grand Am to its first victory in NHRA Pro Stock competition, was consistent all weekend and entered raceday solidly qualified in the No. 4 position. The Arlington, Tex., racer defeated Mark Pawuk in round one, Greg Anderson in round two and V. Gaines in round three before facing Hammonds in the final.

During the first three eliminator sessions, Allen's Pontiac posted performance numbers of 6.844ET/200.00MPH, 6.854ET/200.11MPH and 6.882ET/199.11. In the finals against Hammonds, Allen's Ram Air Grand Am launched first with a .436 reaction time and beat Hammonds' Cavalier to the finish line on a holeshot running 6.888 seconds at 199.55 mph. Hammonds followed in 6.869 seconds at 199.61 mph.

"It's only a matter of time before Tom (Hammonds) wins a race," said Allen of the former NBA power forward. "He's been in three final rounds now and sooner or later it's going to happen. Anybody that's good in one sport where you know how to concentrate, where you know how to win, is going to be good here too. In racing, when you close that door it's only you against your opponent. After you've been beat about every way that you can be beat, you finally figure out how to win out here, and he'll do that. He's a good driver, he's a good tough competitor and he could win the next race, he's that good.

"Our new Ram Air Grand Am ran great all weekend - during qualifying and especially today. Today we kept lane choice until the finals, which that was important too. This is an awesome facility, but there's always going to be one lane that's better than the other, and here today the left lane was a touch better. Then in the final we were able to step up and make a good run in the right."

Today's win was Allen's second of the season, and the 16th victory of his career in 38 final rounds. It was also Pontiac's 108th Pro Stock victory, the most of any automobile manufacturer in the 50-plus year history of the NHRA. Allen moved from 10th to sixth place in the points standings with 12 races remaining on the schedule.

"This field is so tough," said Allen. "There are 24 to 25 cars that can qualify, and if someone makes a good run and you don't, then they're in and you're out. You just do the best you can. Once you get in the field with it being this close, everybody's a player. That's the good part, but the nerve racking part now is trying to get in the field on Friday and staying in on Saturday. Those days are as tense as raceday because you're sweating every run. Pro Stock is tougher than it's ever been."

Hammonds was looking for his first career victory and his first win of the year. The Winnebago Chevy Cavalier put Hammonds in the No. 2 qualifying spot for raceday and rocketed him to his first final round of the season.

"We went back to the basics and what worked for us before," explained Hammonds. "We used the same combination that was so successful for us at the beginning of the year, and started from there, as opposed to the last three or four races where we weren't as aggressive with our setup as we should have been. The last run last weekend in Topeka in the heat of the day really taught us an awful lot on how to tune this Winnebago Chevy Cavalier. We're disappointed that we didn't get the win, but we can't hang our heads. There aren't any excuses though. Bruce is a tough competitor, a class act and you can always count on him to give you a great race."

No. 1 qualifier Jim Yates advanced to round three before losing to Chevy Cavalier driver V. Gaines. Yates' Splitfire Pontiac Grand Am ran the best e.t. of the weekend in the first round at 6.837 seconds. With Warren Johnson losing in round one, Yates extended the lead in the Pro Stock standings over Johnson to 64 points.

"I'm happy with the way the Splitfire Pontiac is running," said Yates. "We had low e.t. of the race and the quickest racecar in two of the three qualifying sessions, but from about 330 to the finish line, the car seems to want to want to skate around on us and we have to get a handle on it.

"Even though we haven't won a race yet this year it's hard for us to be disappointed. We were able to extend our points lead slightly, but we have to take advantage of the opportunities when the other guys go out to put some distance on them. I know how quick the roles can reverse out here, and if we have a bad week and Warren (Johnson) has a good week, he's going to be right there. We'll be in the GM wind tunnel on Tuesday working on the aerodynamics of this new Grand Am to see if we can pick up our performance. The team has done an excellent job but our goal is to win the championship and we've still got a long way to go."

In Funny Car, defending Route 66 NHRA Nationals champion Del Worsham won his second race of the year by defeating Scotty Cannon in an all-Pontiac Firebird final round. Worsham qualified his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac in the No. 5 spot and knocked out Tommy Johnson in round one, and was a Mustang killer in rounds two and three when he eliminated John Force and Gary Densham by a total of .005 second. In the final against Cannon, Worsham's Firebird charged to a winning elapsed time of 4.878 seconds at 312.21 mph while Cannon slowed to a 11.208 elapsed time at 78.21 mph.

"I don't know what the deal is with Funny Car lately," Worsham said. "Everybody is tough, everyone can beat the next guy, and it's no easy deal to get qualified or get a round win. We came out here on Sunday morning feeling good about what we are doing, but not cocky. We knew, without any doubt, that winning this thing would take four incredible performances.

"What a team effort this was. I felt like we were ready to do this. It just felt right, and it felt like we were onto something. Nothing feels better than this!"

In the Sportsman categories, Scott Tidwell of Pinson, Ala., won in Competition in a '02 Pontiac Grand Am. Dan Fletcher of Churchville, N.Y. won in Super Stock in a '69 Chevy Camaro and Mike Ferderer of Buckley, Wash., won in Super Gas in a '02 Pontiac Grand Am.

The next stop on the schedule is the 38th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio on June 13 - 16.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , John Force , Greg Anderson , Tommy Johnson , Scotty Cannon , Bruce Allen , Dan Fletcher