Chevrolet Monte Carlo Funny Car Quickly Making Its Presence Felt LAS VEGAS, April 1, 2004 - In just a short of span of time, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo Funny Car has begun to display the on-track aerodynamic features that make it a truly ...
Chevrolet Monte Carlo Funny Car Quickly Making Its Presence Felt
LAS VEGAS, April 1, 2004 - In just a short of span of time, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo Funny Car has begun to display the on-track aerodynamic features that make it a truly remarkable racecar. This weekend at the SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, three highly skilled veteran drivers will make their way into the red bowtie fraternity.
Current POWERade points-leader Del Worsham, who has won the last two events at Phoenix and Gainesville (Fla.), will climb into a 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo for the first time in competition at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Worsham's Checker Schuck's Kragen teammate Phil Burkhart will also make his inaugural run down the racetrack in a brand-new Chevrolet, and former Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon will add his name to the list of contestants looking to be the first to win a national event in the 2004 Monte Carlo.
"I know people are wondering why we'd come in here on a two-race winning streak and change bodies," said Worsham. "But we have to do it to keep up, and running the new Chevrolet is something we're looking forward to. Our goals are a lot bigger than winning Phoenix and Gainesville so we have to look ahead. And, yes, we might need a short transition period to really learn what the Monte Carlo wants and needs, but we'll be a better team with this better body on the car. That, I'm sure of.
"The old Firebird has been great, and we've had a wonderful ride with it, but the truth is, we're playing against stacked odds every time we race with it these days because the other guys have cars with better aerodynamics. If you don't think it's a gamble to race against guys who can be running five or eight miles per hour faster at the finish line, then you aren't paying attention."
Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Funny Car champion, also sees the inherent potential of the new Chevrolet and the long-term advantages of racing with the Monte Carlo.
"Like anything new that you run for the first time, there's always going to be a slight learning curve," explained Pedregon. "But the craftsmanship, aerodynamics and safety features that GM has built into the new Monte Carlo promises to make it an extraordinary Funny Car. We're excited. We feel this is the kind of racecar that will consistently keep us running at the front of the pack."
In three events, the Chevy Monte Carlo has already demonstrated its effectiveness as an NHRA Funny Car. At the series' last event in Gainesville, Tim Wilkerson captured the No. 1 qualifying spot in his first race in the new Chevrolet giving Monte Carlo its first raceday pole position.
"This Monte Carlo really seems like it's going to be a good racecar," said Wilkerson. "On top of how good it performs ontrack, you can see good out of it too. I really like that about it. Most of the time you get a new body and they're so slick and funny looking, and they're hard to drive. But this Monte Carlo is really nice. You can see the tree good, and I think it's going to be a good body for everybody."
Wilkerson advanced to the semifinals at Gainesville but had an added challenge in defeating Cruz Pedregon in round two of eliminations when his parachute deployed as he launched from the starting line.
"At least we know what this car can do when it drags a parachute for a thousand feet," Wilkerson joked. "The new Monte Carlo did us pretty well though and it's going to be a great body."
"With the completion of three nationals events Pontiac leads the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings with 580 points. Chevrolet is second with 520 points and Dodge is third with 120. Pontiac is the defending NHRA Manufacturer's Cup and has won seven out of the last eight championships. Chevrolet has won the most Manufacturer's Cups (15) with its first title coming in 1966 and its most recent in 2002.
"The SummitRacing.com Nationals will mark the 350th national event for Pontiac Grand Am driver Bruce Allen, and with a successful qualifying effort, Allen can capture his 300th career round win during Sunday eliminations. Allen has 299 round victories for a career winning percentage of .525. Among active full-time drivers, only Warren Johnson (777), Jim Yates (361) and Kurt Johnson (354) have won more rounds, and only Warren Johnson (435) and Mark Pawuk (350) have entered more races.
"GM will enter the SummitRacing.com Nationals with drivers in first place in Pro Stock and Funny Car. Pontiac's Greg Anderson leads the factory hot rod division in an SC/T Grand Am with two victories and 314 points. Kurt Johnson is in second place in a Chevy Cavalier with one win and 244 points. Warren Johnson is third in a Pontiac with 201 points and Chevrolet's Jeg Coughlin, with 185 points, is tied for fourth with Larry Morgan. David Connolly is in sixth place in a Cavalier with 156 points, Bruce Allen is seventh in a Pontiac with 143 points, Rickie Smith is eighth in a Chevrolet with 137 points, Jim Yates is ninth in a Pontiac with 132 points and Mike Edwards is 10th in a Pontiac with 116 points.
In Funny Car, Del Worsham, previously in a Pontiac and now in a Chevy Monte Carlo, is in first place with 298 points. Tim Wilkerson is in fourth place in a Monte Carlo with 167 points, Tony Pedregon is seventh in a Chevrolet with 157 points and Tommy Johnson Jr. is in 10th place in a Monte Carlo with 140 points.
"Chevy Cavalier driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. continues to have the longest consecutive qualifying streak in the Pro Stock category. Coughlin has made every 16-car field going all the way back to the Craftsman Nationals at St. Louis in June of 2002, a streak of 39 races. Pontiac's Greg Anderson has the second-longest streak at 27 races.
"Speaking of streaks, Greg Anderson's Pontiac SC/T Grand Am has been the No. 1 qualifier at eight consecutive events dating back to last September's NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill. In those eight races Anderson has won five contests and competed in six final rounds. Anderson's Pontiac has reached the winner's circle at the last two eliminators contested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"Anderson is the defending Pro Stock champion and the only Pontiac Grand Am driver to win the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Anderson and Mark Pawuk are Pontiac drivers who have won the fall national eliminator at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Anderson in 2003 and Pawuk in 2001.
"Chevrolet's Jeg Coughlin Jr. is a two-time winner of the spring race. Coughlin captured victories in 2000-01 and won the fall event in 2002. Ron Krisher won the spring race in 2002.
"Ron Capps is the only current Chevy Monte Carlo driver who has previously won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Capps won the fall event in 2001.
"Greg Anderson's Pontiac Grand Am holds the LVMS Pro Stock track record at 6.837 seconds set in October 2003. Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cavalier holds the top speed record of 201.73 mph set in April 2003.
"The elevation of Las Vegas Motor Speedway is 2,100 feet above sea level, the highest racetrack the POWERade tour will race on until the Mile-High Nationals in Denver in mid-July.
Television - Qualifying highlights of the SummitRacing.com Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, April 3, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, April 4, starting at 11 p.m. Eastern.