Jackpot! Pawuk Wins In Vegas! LAS VEGAS, NV 10/28 After a frustration-filled season that saw Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk earn runner-up honors at five major events (including the non-points Holley Dominator Duel), briefly lead the points, and then...
Jackpot! Pawuk Wins In Vegas!
LAS VEGAS, NV 10/28 After a frustration-filled season that saw Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk earn runner-up honors at five major events (including the non-points Holley Dominator Duel), briefly lead the points, and then DNQ in three straight races, it all turned around with a big victory at the AC Delco Nationals in Las Vegas.
Six second elapsed times were difficult to come by at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with Pawuk's Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am only recording one, a 6.976 second run in the second round of qualifying that earned him the seventh starting spot in the field. Seven second runs were the order of the day during eliminations, but superior driving plus a little luck earned Pawuk his first victory since Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing in June of 2000.
"You have no idea how good this feels," Pawuk exulted at the end of the race. "Sometimes you can't help wondering if all of the work is worth it, and when things aren't going well it gets even worse, but one day like this erases all of the bad stuff. This is really great!"
Pawuk won his first and final round races on impressive holeshots, taking out Rickie Smith with a .033 second starting line advantage in the first stanza, and then dropping former NBA player Tommy Hammonds in the finale with a .042 second edge. After notching a 7.033/196.02 to Hammonds' 6.994/197.68 trackside observers called Pawuk's margin of victory a very slim 10 inches.
"I don't care if it was only one inch," Pawuk said. "We won, and that's all that counts as far as we're concerned."
As important as the victory was, it also had major ramifications in the points standings. Pawuk jumped from ninth to sixth in the standings, just 12 points out of fifth. A strong performance in the AAA Finals at Pomona in two weeks could give the Cowboy another fifth place finish, which is now his aim.
"Fourth place is out of reach," he concedes, "but if we do well in California we could move up one more spot. We're not going to be satisfied with that, but considering where we've been in the last month or so, believe me, we'd happily take it!
"We've had more than our share of engine problems lately, but our guys came through with a good powerplant for this race, and everything fell our way.
"Lots of people talk about racing luck, and I know we had some out here today, but I think you've got to get the breaks once in a while in order to win. Today it was just our turn to get those breaks, and I hope we get a few more at Pomona!"
Pawuk and All-Star Drag Racing Team Pro Racing Crew Chief Rob Downing know they'll have their work cut out for them at Pomona.
"If the conditions are anything like they were last year, " Downing said, "we'll have to be on top of our game. Pomona's definitely a horsepower track at this time of year, but I think we'll be ready. We're going to freshen up the engine we ran today, and hope to have another one ready, just in case."
"Ya know, we've talked an awful lot this year about how our season's been like a roller coaster ride," Pawuk added. "Well, right now we're right up there at the top of the hill, and we're planning on staying right there!" <pre> Results:
Qualifying: Session #1 - - 7.024/196.79 #6 (7.061 Bump) Session #2 - - 6.976/197.25 #5 (7.013 Bump) Session #3 - - 7.006/196.90 #7 (6.999 Bump) Session #4 - - 7.031.196.07 #7 (6.997 Bump)
Eliminations: Round #1 .450 R.T. 7.032/196.04 defeated Rickie Smith .483 R.T. 7.010.196.62 Round #2 .539 R.T. 7.045/196.23 defeated Mike Edwards Officially "Timed Out" by the automatic starting system Round #3 .458 R.T. 8.535/114.98 defeated George Marnell .350 R.T. 7.017/196.82 (Foul start) Round #4 .444 R.T. 7.033/196.02 defeated Tom Hammonds .486 R.T. 6.994/197.68
Notable: Pawuk is now sixth in the NHRA Winston Top 10, 12 points of fifth place
Next: NHRA AAA Finals, Pomona, California, 11/9-11/11