Las Vegas Friday Pontiac-GMC Notes & Quotes

Inaugural Nationals Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 7, 2000 LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2000) - Qualifying for the Inaugural Nationals got underway today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher pulled...

Inaugural Nationals Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 7, 2000

LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2000) - Qualifying for the Inaugural Nationals got underway today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher pulled down the top qualifying position in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. In the final qualifying session, Krisher had an elapsed time of 7.048 seconds at 195.42 mph. Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird was bumped down to the No. 2 spot on the last qualifying run of the day. Pawuk had an elapsed time of 7.060 seconds at 195.8 mph. Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird is qualified third, Richie Stevens is fourth, Jamie Yates is fifth, Jim Yates is eighth, Bruce Allen is 10th, Tom Martino is 11th and Brad Jeter is 15th.

In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson jumped to the No. 2 qualifying position in the Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 4.996 seconds at 305.42 mph. Del Worsham is qualified fifth, Todd Paton is seventh, Bruce Sarver is 11th, Dale Creasy Jr., is 13th, Frank Pedregon is 14th, Cristen Powell is 19th, Gary Densham is 23rd, Cruz Pedregon is 24th and Al Hofmann is 27th. The No. 1 qualifier is Jim Epler in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.947 seconds at 305.42 mph. Tony Pedregon is third and John Force is fourth.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan's MBNA/Pontiac is qualified in the No. 9 position with an elapsed time of 4.771 seconds at 307.51 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Kenny Bernstein with an elapsed time of 4.630 seconds at 314.09 mph. Joe Amato is qualified second, Gary Scelzi is third, Larry Dixon is fourth and Bob Vandergriff is fifth.

The Inaugural Nationals on April 6-9 is the fourth race on the 23-event NHRA Winston Championship tour. Television coverage can be seen on TNN on Sunday, April 9, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.


Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) "We have our toes crossed hoping that number will hold up tomorrow. There are a few fast cars out there, but the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is running great so far. Obviously we've sneaked up on this thing during the last three races with the capability of moving up to the pole at anyone of these contests. This time we finally hit it. We were a little worried about it though. We had a shock problem on the first run, and we were so far off that we were a little anxious about tonight's run. When I left the starting line I knew I was on a decent pass. We've been running at Tucson and some other places so we know what a 7.04 feels like - it feels slow actually. But for one of these racetracks it's really pretty fast at this altitude. It's going to be very difficult for anyone to get that one-two gear combination figured out, but there are four or five cars that are definitely capable. Mark (Pawuk) was just a breath away from me and we all know what Warren (Johnson) can do pretty quick. But it will take a different track situation from what we have right now. After the way this year started at Pomona, this just makes it that much more special. Our program was upside down and we knew it would be difficult to put together two great running racecars. Jerry Bickel helped us out and Barry Grant gave us his spot so I get a lot of satisfaction out of being No. 1. Even being in the top half of the field has been very, very satisfying. We still only have 25 runs on this car, we're learning as we go and I know that we can continue to do well. I have a good pit crew with Mike Edwards, Mike Elliott and Jim Coakley. I've got some excellent engines sitting back at the shop and if I do my job then we'll be competitive for the rest of the year." No. 1 qualifier - 7.048ET(track record)/195.42MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "The track is coming around and we're getting a little closer with our combination. There's a lot left out there. The track is different from when we tested here and a lot of cars are going to improve tomorrow -- especially if the weather cooperates and we get out there early in the morning. It will be a matter of who can adapt their combination to the changing track conditions. This is a beautiful facility and I like it even better now that we've made a decent run. The first six or seven feet of the track has zero bite and after that it has killer bite. We're just blowing the tires off the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird when I let the clutch out and then downtrack we're all right. The more the Fuel cars run the better the starting line will be. Right now it's pretty much a crap shoot but tomorrow morning is going to be a fast session." No. 8 qualifier - 7.092ET/195.62MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) "The first session we were expecting the track to be a little better than it was and our approach is to try and be conservative. That was conservative for us so that shows you just how far we missed the track. For the second run we went to a back up mode. We were a little soft, but we had to make that run to get down the track. We got a little out of shape in low gear but the rest of the run was good - maybe not good numbers but we got in. Tomorrow we can try and improve our position in the field for Sunday. That's our goal, to win some rounds on Sunday and win the race. But the first thing you have to do is get qualified, and so far we've been able to do that." No. 10 qualifier - 7.098ET/194.72MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "With this being a Summit Racing event, we're just happy to do as well as we did today, especially with the degree of uncertainty we faced coming in. We made two excellent runs in the Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird. Our focus now will be to build on that tomorrow and tune for Sunday. In the morning we'll come in here and make another good hit because I still think there's a little bit left. Consistency will be the key on raceday. It was a little disheartening to get bumped off the pole on the last run of the session, but to be honest, we're just happy to be qualified solidly in the show." No. 2 qualifier - 7.060ET/195.48MPH

Jamie Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm really, really happy tonight. We've been testing a lot here with this Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird trying some different things with the motor and gear ratios. I'm really comfortable in the car at this track. The car is handling really well so far and hopefully we can try a couple of thing tomorrow that let us improve. I'm just happy to be in right now. Compared to where I've been this is a drastic improvement and I'm really happy. I always want to do better even though I'm fifth right now. But three weeks ago I would have killed to be in this spot." No. 5 qualifier - 7.079ET/194.83MPH


Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "Our problem in the first session was that we didn't have enough power. We're trying to catch up to this combination, and we're getting there, but it was just too weak. You have to drive it to the finish line to see what the car is doing, but I did get to use my parachutes today. That's the first time I've done that in a long time - since Phoenix to be exact. I was beginning to wonder if they still worked. We think we can get this Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird figured out and be ready to go. We made some clutch changes from Gainesville that did help us make it down the racetrack this time. We're going in the right direction, now we have to give it a little bit more. Once we found a combination, we tried to much to make it better and we went too far. We've gone back the other way and it's starting to help us improve." No. 13 qualifier - 5.178ET/281.01MPH

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "This is a brand new racetrack so we had the Pontiac Firebird really, really soft. It was a real smooth run, but when the car got off the concrete, there was no racetrack and it spun the tires real hard. There's a lot left in it up to that point. We'll put some rear wing in it and go on down there. We went back after Gainesville, remounted the 2000 Firebird body and braced it more in some places where it was needed. Now we feel real comfortable with it and are pretty confident about our chances this weekend. We worked hard after the Gatornationals, tested extensively and hopefully all of those gremlins that bit us in the last two races are gone. If that's the case then I think we'll be right there in the hunt." No. 11 qualifier - 5.117ET/294.24MPH

Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "Getting down the racetrack was all we wanted to do today. We were a little nervous about the track surface but I don't that's what us. We were actually a little too aggressive on the other end and right now, we're in the transporter kicking ourselves for trying to go so fast on the top end. We could have gone even quicker if we wouldn't have spun the tires. We can't complain though. The parts looked nice, we were a little hard on the clutch early, but tonight we'll pick it up[ and see if this Sioux City Kenworth car will go faster. It's a very nice feeling to get that first run out of the way. A lot of the pressure's off now. I don't now if a 5.09 is going to hold because you never know. This season is going to be one tough deal. There's no room for leakers. We need to keep our junk in a good pile and make sure this Pontiac Firebird goes straight." No. 2 qualifier - 4.996ET/292.52MPH


David Spitzer (Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma) -- "It's pretty tricky out there. I think just about everybody was kind of rolling the dice to see what the track would hold. Some of the guys tested at Tucson which may have been helpful in figuring out the air and gear ratios. It's going to be a lot different here though. After tonight, the field is going to be much tighter. You're going to have to run in the 7.70s to get in the show. The Sunnen/Dynagear Sonoma was out of control in low gear. I think if we can get a handle on the first part of the track then we'll be a lot better. We might step on to something and be right there, you just never know."

John Lingenfelter (Summit Racing GMC Sonoma) - We had a little bit of a handicap with the problems Pigford had. We were staged there for a real long time and kind of loaded the engine up with fuel. The Summit Racing Sonoma was a little lazy initially, plus the problems in the opposite lane were distracting so we're looking forward to making this run tonight. We were quite a bit off on our clutch setting this afternoon, so the main thing for tonight's run will be to adjust the clutch correctly for the conditions and give it another shot. The air's going to be worse but the track temperature won't be as hot. The shot tomorrow morning will be the main session but tonight we can lay some ground work for that. It also looks as though the left lane was slightly better than the right even though Panella made his good run in the right lane. If you look through the top 10 there are more trucks out of the left lane. Tonight we'll be going into the left lane so we're hoping that's worth a little. Right now there's more disparity in the field than at Gainesville. After tonight's session you'll see the field tighten up because a lot of guys will have learned a lot from that first shot."

Rick Jones (Country Motors Trailer Sales GMC Sonoma) -- "We're not used to racing in conditions like this. I think the closest we've been too was at Columbus and maybe St. Louis. We're almost at 5000 feet so that definitely affects our tune up. We came in here never having raced on this track and it makes you second guess yourself. It wasn't a bad start. We're pretty happy with that. We've got a good baseline and it all depends on what happens to the racetrack. It's going to be changing all weekend. The Fuel cars will be putting more rubber down. We'll have to keep an eye on the starting line because it's not very good but the rest of the racetrack is nice and smooth. Once we get a handle on that then we can run better. We should be running two to three hundredth's better than what we're running right now. We were very anxious coming in here because there are so many ways you can go with the clutch and gearing. We had no idea because we've never raced at this kind of altitude before. Watching my customers and competition eliminator definitely helped us."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , John Lingenfelter , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Todd Paton , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Barry Grant , Bob Vandergriff , Mike Edwards