Memphis: Bruce Sarver preview

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (October 5, 2000) - It's amazing the impact momentum can have on the outcome of an event in any sport, whether it's baseball, football, golf or NHRA Winston championship drag racing. Like surfing the perfect wave, the key...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (October 5, 2000) - It's amazing the impact momentum can have on the outcome of an event in any sport, whether it's baseball, football, golf or NHRA Winston championship drag racing. Like surfing the perfect wave, the key is to hang on, ride it for as long as you can, and reap its rewards because you never know when it will return.

After picking up his first career victory last month at the Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pa., Bruce Sarver and his teammates can now see the pendulum of good fortune swinging their way. Their goal with four races left on the schedule is to put their 2000 Pontiac Firebird Funny Car in the winner's circle at every stop remaining on the tour, and the confidence level in camp now has them thinking that they can. Sarver is currently 10th in the Winston points standings and a top-five finish is certainly not out of the question. That's a goal the Alan Johnson-owned Funny Car team will be shooting for as the year winds down.

The following is a question-and-answer session with Pontiac Firebird driver Bruce Sarver as he looks back on the 2000 race season and ahead to next year. When did it finally sink in that you had won at Reading? "Oh gosh, well, really it took the whole week with all the festivities and parties we had with family and friends that weren't able to be at the race. Being the winner at Reading was a great feeling. I am still shocked and overwhelmed by all of it. Hopefully we can do it again before the end of the season."

What sort of impact did this win have on the confidence level of the team? "The guys have been super motivated with the restructuring of key people here and there, and we finally have real good energy throughout the whole team. It started in St. Louis, really. We've had really good runs and have done well. For the guys, getting their first Funny Car win with all the struggles they've had is very rewarding for them. It's good for Richard (Hogan) and Alan (Johnson). Alan expected this to happen a lot sooner, but looking at not qualifying for four races and then looking at what we are doing now is amazing. Being a new team with new equipment, it just takes awhile to get everything to gel together. We are finally a normal team now and maybe even above average. Everything we're doing now is to get us ready to go after the championship next year."

What's the relationship between you and Alan Johnson like, and what kind of information do you share with Gary Scelzi, your teammate? "When Gary runs first I am always right on the starting line with him because our cars are so similar now, and they react basically the same with the way the clutch works and with our horsepower. I spend time watching his car, and vice versa he watches me when I go first like on Fridays. The relationship with the Johnson family is great -- they are like family to me. We enjoy each other's company and we're not just out here because we have a business relationship. We truly like working together and we also have a personal, respectful relationship. Gary and I have become real good friends this year, and I work really well with all of them. Everything just clicks. We give each other all the information we can to help one another."

What do you want to accomplish during this last stretch of the 2000 season? "Our goal is to go out and win another one. We really want to get to sixth in points. We are about 70 points out right now and we feel we can do that. You never know, if we can win more than one race we could have a shot at fifth. But our goal is to get to that number six spot and finish the year with another win. We want to get the Pontiac Firebird to run in the 4.80s as well. We're going to be on good racetracks the rest of the season and feel we have the capability to do that."

The next few races are on traditionally high-horsepower racetracks. How does that fit in with your team's approach to those events? "Well it's the tuner's deal to get the car from point A to point B quick. We aren't changing a whole lot on the car. Topeka was a lot like Reading, so we didn't change much. As far as the other tracks, we'll just tune the motor to the track, and stay focused on what we're trying to accomplish. But it's a lot easier said then done. We're just hoping for good air and that we'll have success at each of the tracks."

What's the confidence level like now with the team and yourself? "We feel very confident after that win in Reading. We go into each race knowing we can win. The morale of the team is great. Alan feels we can win the rest of them. That's the attitude throughout the whole team. Realistically, we just want to try and be a consistent, fast car. We've got a lot of things we're going to test for next season to go after John (Force). I'd like to be the guy that takes John Force down. Whoever can take Force down is going to be big, so that's why we are keeping our confidence high and staying positive. I am really excited about everything that's going on with this team."

What's next year looking like? Gary (Scelzi) and I are going to remain teammates for next season. I have no indication that that would change. Things are going too well for it to get all messed up now. For our sponsor, they are new this year in the sport and they are a great group of people. and Matco Tools have been really great to us. When a team doesn't qualify for four races, a lot of sponsors would be somewhat upset. But our sponsors are 100% behind us and believe in us. The 2000 Pontiac Firebird body has been great, too. We are extremely happy with what it's done for us."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , John Force , Gary Scelzi