Memphis Pontiac Saturday Notes

PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) "We could have gone a little quicker in that first run this morning but we broke a valve spring and that dropped us about 30 horsepower. We broke it somewhere after the eighth mile." ...


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) "We could have gone a little quicker in that first run this morning but we broke a valve spring and that dropped us about 30 horsepower. We broke it somewhere after the eighth mile."

Is there any satisfaction to running the first 200 mph lap at Memphis Motorsports park? "It's just part and parcel to qualifying. You can't strike unless you have a place to strike from. We ran the 200, and that's fine, but the idea is to qualify."

What did the 199 mph correct to? Around 201.09 mph. "We tried a different shock and spring combination on that run and it got real loose from about the 330 on.. The track is just a little rough in the right lane at about 1000 feet on. It has one pretty good bump at about 270 feet and there are a series of them from a thousand feet on--more so in the right lane than the left lane."

How do you see things setting up for tomorrow? "It's been tight all year long and the spread here is about seven hundredths of a second. We've had some races where it's been four or five hundredths. As far as the professional categories, it's the tightest qualifying that we have. Most of the cars are pretty consistent so the best racing that we have is in Pro Stock as far as side by side racing. The cars run so close together and there are very few failures as far as parts or aborted runs. There's hardly any room for error. There are two sources for error. The driver when he leaves the starting line and the setup on the clutch."

Do you feel the younger drivers getting after you a little here? "It's just racing as usual. If it isn't Yates it's Osborne. If it isn't Osborne it's Stevens. If it isn't Richie it's Kurt (Johnson). If it's not Kurt it's Jeggie. It's tightening up and it's one right after the other. We haven't qualified No. 1 at every race so you can't say there's an odds on favorite to qualify No. 1. Every body is running so close that it's just a matter of who puts the round pegs in the round holes and the square ones in the square holes that's going to qualify No. 1." No. 1 qualifier - 6.881ET(track record) / 200.08MPH (track record)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We knew after last night's session, and after watching today's Pro Stock Truck session that the weather wasn't as good as last night, but that the track was going to be better. There was going to be some tremendous improvement in e.t. We went out there a little aggressive with the clutch, it had a lot in it and the Splitfire/Peak Firebird reacted just great! It went out and ran really good to the 60 and 330, and then carried that momentum all the way to the finish line. Bob Ingles tuned the engine up a little bit and found a couple of horsepower. That 198.79MPH is the best speed we've run all year, plus we ran 2.46 down the back half. Those are big numbers for us and I think it has to do a little bit with having the motor tuned properly. This track is a little tricky. It is so good right now, and the air is so good that we have to revert to the combinations that we were using at the beginning of the year at Houston where we running these kind of numbers. You've got to have a combination that will run 6.88 to be competitve. Warren (Johnson) has a combination in his repertoire that allows him to do that, we've got a combination that runs those kind of numbers, and you have to have the gear ratios and all of the other stuff that will make it go that fast. When the weather and the track cooperates, you have to be lucky enough and smart enough to put it in there. Last night we missed it. Today we went out and made a pretty good hit on it. We're going to go out this afternoon, break in some new tires, work on our reaction times and see how we look for tomorrow. Right now, there seems to be a pretty big difference in lane choice and that will help. The car seems to be responding to the track conditions and air conditions we have here. This Firebird is a fast car. We just need to see if we can ride it to the winner's circle." No. 2 qualifier - 6.884ET / 198.79MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "I can tell I'm in Elvis' hometown because I was shaking, rattling and rolling all over the place today. My back is killing me, but at least the Pennzoil Firebird is in the top half of the field. We'll probably be the first pair out, which concerns me a little bit. The only good run we made was in the right lane, but everyone is saying the left lane is better. We have some decisions to make there. I don't know which lane I'm going to choose. The good part is that our best run took place at the same time we'll be running tomorrow so we can set the car up exactly the way we did this morning. We need to win four rounds and take home the title. We've got as good a chance as any one tomorrow." No. 8 qualifier - 6.939ET / 198.29MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We need to make another good run. We didn't make one this morning. We thought we had too much clutch in it, but the graph doesn't show that. It looks like it's pretty tricky off the starting line. Down track, the Summit Racing Firebird actually made a pretty nice pass. When it doesn't run good off the line, it doesn't have a good e.t. We thought about swinging for the fences that time, but the air was questionable, so we decided just to try and make another good run in the left lane and hold onto lane choice. We lost it, and now it's going to be tough getting it back. We're going to try some stuff for tomorrow and see if we can't get down that right lane. We didn't expect the conditions to improve like they did. The air was worse and the track was hotter. The track was better but it was hotter. There were some darn good runs out there and it looks like you either made a great run or none at all. A few cars ran good and some cars that made it last night just couldn't get down the track today." No. 9 qualifier - 6.941ET / 197.57MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) "I feel horrible, especially for Pennzoil. I haven't had any luck at any one of the Pennzoil-sponsored races this year. It's embarrassing. We're better than that but Pennzoil would never know it by looking at our performance at their races. This isn't worth doing if you race like this. We spun the tires again (during the last round) in first gear and as soon as I jammed it into second, it started shaking. I knew right then we were done. If you don't hit it at the right time it's tough to make the field. I've had plenty of ups and downs in my career and I can tell you this is a big down for us." No. 19 qualifier - 6.978ET / 196.64MPH

George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) "I feel that the Tenneco Firebird has been able to keep up with the conditions and is right on track for tomorrow. For being in the right lane, I think the car made an exceptional pass. The whole team did a great job getting the car ready for this morning's session. The car left well, it shook a little when I put it in second gear, but when it came off the concrete, it became unhooked. The car got pretty squirrelly. We were able to stay with it, and consequently, we were able to make a pretty decent run for the right lane. That's something we're going to have to know about for tomorrow. We've been able to run at the top of the pack for the last few races. Our engine program has come along quite well. Bob Ingles has found some new power and the last three races, we've had a new motor in the car that's taken us right to the top of the field. Right now, I'm feeling pretty confident about our chances of winning a race." No. 7 qualifier - 6.937ET / 197.31MPH


Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "I have fond memories of this place despite what happened last year. What happened last year is behind us and frankly, with Wes (Cerny) on board, this is like a whole new team and the crew chief has been the difference. This Interstate Batteries Firebird is everything we could want. It's fast, it's the record holder and it's safe. Wes was adamant about making it safe and that's the first thing he did when he got here. This was our 10th No. 1 qualifying effort and this has definitely been the best year of my career from a qualifying standpoint. I've had some good cars, but this one is by far the best. Even though we've only won four races, the potential is always there. We've let a few slip through our fingers but that will only make us tougher for the remainder of this season and on in to next year. We have a new car coming, but my main focus will be to get this car in the winner's circle tomorrow and go last year one better."

Is the groove a little more narrow here than at other tracks? "Staying in the groove is critical, but at this track, the groove is actually a little off center. That makes it tougher than usual because the normal routine is to keep it in the center, but here the groove is closer to the centerline. With these cars running in the fours, keeping it in the groove is crucial. I'm really working on the steering wheel from the time I hit the throttle. That's something I'll be aware of tomorrow and will make the necessary adjustments." No. 1 qualifier-4.916ET / 311.20MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) "Every thing pretty much went right that time for the GM Performance Parts Firebird. We changed a couple of small hardware parts on the clutch earlier in the week. It was only about $1500 worth of parts that we put in there new that we hadn't changed in a couple of years and it went right back to where we needed it to be. It's starting to do things that it used to do that we couldn't talk it into doing. In all fairness, our consistency problems may have been just a matter of changing a few parts. We'll find out for sure once we get a chance to make a few more runs. We have about three runs left in these clutch discs so we're ready for tomorrow. We think now though that it may have been in the clutch hardware and not in the discs. We're looking forward to getting to Topeka after this race. With the field being set there, we'll be able to try some new things to see if we're on to something. The motor's looking mighty stout. She looked real good after that run, no broken parts or anything, and every thing will be going right back in it. We're real excited about tomorrow. Maybe we can go a few rounds and win us a race. After all the hard work my guys have put in, that would be a nice boost for every one on this team." No. 7 qualifier - 4.979ET / 305.15MPH

Del Worsham (Checker's/Schucks/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "I'm really disappointed with our final qualifying run. We thought we stepped it up pretty good, enough to run a 4.98 or so. But the track was so good and the air was so incredible, we left too much out of it and it shook the tires on us until they shook themselves loose. If we have to be 10th, I wouldn't ask for any other first round match-up than Al Hofmann. We're 28 points apart. We're ninth and he's 10th, so facing him is what it's all about. Otherwise, we could win and he could match us if he beat someone else. This way, it's like a 40-point swing - a 40-point round. It will just be a good old drag race tomorrow in round one between a pair of Pontiac Firebirds. Us against them, fighting for these points just like the guys up in first and second place. Every spot in the Winston top-10 is an important spot to the guy battling for it." No. 10 qualifier - 5.075ET / 305.15MPH

Dale Creasy (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We're racing tomorrow so that's the important thing. We need to get this Creasy Racing Firebird in the show so that we can get that money to go on to the next race. We're pretty happy with the car. We found a few things that we were doing wrong."

"It's not that we were making any major mistakes, it's just that we were over estimating things a little bit. We've figured it out and now we're ready to rock! The first run out here, I hit the gas, and we found out that one of our tires was three quarter's of an inch taller than the other one. We figured that out and it moved right down the track the next run. It didn't have anything wrong with it. I was hoping to run a 5.10 this morning but we're ready for tomorrow and that's all that matters." No. 13 qualifier - 5.208ET / 275.34MPH


Shelly Anderson (Parts America/Pontiac) "It may not have been our quickest or fastest run ever, but it sure felt good. It was our first full-throttle run since the accident. That's 21 runs. Let me tell you, it felt great to pull the chutes again. I'll sleep pretty well tonight knowing that I'll be competing in final eliminations both this weekend and next. There's not much left of the season, but I'd like to finish strong. Hopefully this will be the start of good things for us...finally." No. 15 qualifier - 4.795ET / 283.07MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , George Marnell , Shelly Anderson