Pawuk Debuts New GTO In St. Louis Successful Outing Bodes Well For Remaining Races RICHFIELD, OH 6/26/06 Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk had a successful debut outing for his brand new Jerry Hass-built Pontiac GTO at the NHRA POWERade Series race at...
Pawuk Debuts New GTO In St. Louis
Successful Outing Bodes Well For Remaining Races
RICHFIELD, OH 6/26/06 Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk had a successful debut outing for his brand new Jerry Hass-built Pontiac GTO at the NHRA POWERade Series race at Gateway International Raceway, which is within site of the iconic arch that is synonymous with St. Louis, and is now primed for even better results in the year's remaining 11 races.
"I'll admit I was a little concerned about debuting our new Pontiac at an important race like this one without any prior testing, but the car came through for us in remarkable fashion," Pawuk said the morning following the race. "Under normal circumstances you'd like to have made a half dozen testing runs, but we didn't have the chance to do that because we picked the car up from Jerry's shop just hours before the gates opened at the track.
"I can't say enough for my crew, because those guys really put in a lot of effort in making sure the car was ready to run. They did an excellent job, but I'm really not surprised, because that's what they've done all year long. From crew chief Marcus Bowen to test driver/mechanic Craig Hankinson and mechanic Robert Morrow, everyone pulled together, and that made all the difference.
"The real bottom line here is, though, that without the generosity of our friend Ron Krisher we would have missed seven races, and if you do that you can forget about a decent finish in the standings. It's just not possible. For example, we were still running Ron's car last week in Englishtown, NJ, where we qualified for the show before I was a tiny bit late against Allen Johnson in the first round and lost. I wasn't happy about that, but we did score some points, and we needed that.
"Ron was extremely generous in loaning us his back-up Valvoline Chevy Cobalt, and we're very appreciative.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the generosity of the folks from Valvoline, who allowed us to carry their colors into those seven events. I just hope they're pleased with the results we generated, and hopefully, maybe we can get together with them for a long term program of our own at some point in the future."
After making the obligatory half-track pass on his first qualifying attempt with the new car on Friday afternoon Pawuk's team feverishly worked over the car and then proceeded to rip off three fairly competitive runs that ultimately qualified them 15th, which, as Pawuk said, "wasn't exactly where we wanted to be, but with the new car, just making the field was a victory of sorts, particularly when you see some of the names who didn't make the cut."
Pawuk faced long time friend and fellow Summit Racing teammate Kurt Johnson in the first round, and despite leaving the starting line first with a superior Reaction Time, he lost a close one by forty-nine-hundredths of a second.
"We just needed a little more power against KJ, but again, I'm still pleased with the outcome, or at least as much as you can be when you come out on the losing end of a race. The car showed tremendous promise, and I think with some real testing and other adjustments we'll be right in the thick of things in another race or two."
The car was returned to Haas's shop on Monday morning to have the doors adjusted, "and no, we didn't blow the doors off of it," Pawuk added. "There're just a few minor little glitches that we wanted to take care of while the guys were right there in St. Louis. Then we've got to get it back here to our shop so we can have it lettered and looking sharp for our next race."
Pawuk's team will skip the next outing on the POWERade Series trail at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, CO just outside Denver as they continue to massage the new car into a finely honed, competitive machine.
"The high altitude of the Denver race is always tough to deal with," he said, "and the adjustments you have to make are a once-in-a-year thing. If we were running a 'seasoned' race car we'd be there, but right now we need to get this new GTO ready for lower altitude competition. The plan is to get the car completely finished and do some testing so we can run at the Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals in Seattle on July 21st and be competitive."