Las Vegas II: Pontiac Racing report

Victory Comes To Mark Pawuk At ACDelco Nationals LAS VEGAS, Oct. 28, 2001 - Pro Stock driver Mark Pawuk claimed his first victory of the season today driving the Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am past Tom Hammonds in the final round of the...

Victory Comes To Mark Pawuk At ACDelco Nationals

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 28, 2001 - Pro Stock driver Mark Pawuk claimed his first victory of the season today driving the Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am past Tom Hammonds in the final round of the ACDelco Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pawuk became the 15th different winner in the Pro Stock category this season.

"It just shows how tough this class is," said Pawuk. "Fifteen different winners in 23 races. It's phenomenal just how competitive this category is. Unless you're racing against some of these guys, it's hard to comprehend how difficult it can be just to qualify. Next year it's going to be even tougher, so I'll take it any way I can get it."

Pawuk has ended up on the wrong end of a lot of close races this year. Coming into this weekend's event, the 44-year-old Ohio native had competed in four final rounds this season without a victory. After qualifying his Pro Stock Pontiac in the No. 7 position, Pawuk defeated Rickie Smith in round one, Mike Edwards in round two and George Marnell in round three before facing red-hot Tom Hammonds in the all-GM final. Hammonds was coming off a runner-up performance last week in Dallas and his Cavalier had been one of the quickest cars over the last two weeks.

Pawuk's Grand Am launched first with a .444 reaction time and crossed the finish line in 7.033 seconds. Hammonds Chevy followed with a better elapsed time at 6.994 seconds, but Pawuk's starting-line holeshot gave him the win by a margin of .003 seconds, or less than 10 inches.

"We let the clutch out on time in a couple of rounds and it was enough to put this Pontiac Grand Am in the winner's circle," said Pawuk. "With a little good luck on our side today we were able to turn the tables, so to speak. We ran really strong at the beginning of the year and had hoped to bring in a couple of victories earlier in the season but didn't. Who would've thought with the way we've run during the last month it would happen here.

"My team's been working really hard and we're moving back forward with the engine program. It's not where we were, but it's obviously a lot better than where we've been. Just to be in the final is a major accomplishment."

Today's win was the sixth career victory for Pawuk in 21 final rounds. It was also the first win for the Summit Racing Pontiac driver since last year's Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and his first final round since last month's AutoZone Nationals in Memphis. He moves from ninth place to sixth place in the Pro Stock points standings.

"Every time we go to the starting line we're doing the best we can," Pawuk said. "I've lost a close races this year, but I won on a holeshot in the first round and I won on a holeshot in the finals. Just to have things go our way like they did today is very gratifying and boosts our confidence going down the stretch to Pomona."

In Funny Car, Bob Gilbertson drove his nitro-powered Pontiac Firebird to the final round before losing to Ron Capps. It was the second time this season and the third time in his career that he'd advanced to the championship round.

Gilbertson entered today's event qualified in the No. 11 position. He defeated Scotty Cannon in round one, Tony Pedregon in round two and Bruce Sarver in round three. In the finals against Ron Capps, Gilbertson fouled with a red-light start making Capps the winner. Capps' Chevy Camaro motored to an impressive 4.890 seconds at 308.85 mph giving him his third win of the year.

"The red-light was completely my fault," said Gilbertson. "I knew going into this race against Capps that I would need a near perfect light. I'm not making any excuses, but when you have an opportunity like that to win a national event, you have to do everything you can. I wanted to win here today, take that to Pomona and maybe do it again there. That's why we're here. The crew did an outstanding job, our Pontiac Firebird ran beautiful and I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish here today."

The next stop on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour is the 37th annual AAA Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 8 - 11, at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

-Pontiac Racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Scotty Cannon , Tom Hammonds , George Marnell , Rickie Smith , Mike Edwards