Pawuk on the comeback trail. RICHFIELD, OH 9/20/02 It's been a difficult summer for Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's Summit Racing Pontiac Pro Stock team, but things now appear to be looking up. "We had the worst summer season of my career," admits ...
Pawuk on the comeback trail.
RICHFIELD, OH 9/20/02 It's been a difficult summer for Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's Summit Racing Pontiac Pro Stock team, but things now appear to be looking up.
"We had the worst summer season of my career," admits Pawuk. "We did a lot of testing and a lot of different things in our engine room in trying to build enough power to qualify at the NHRA POWERade races, but we kept missing the combination. I'm not making any excuses, because everyone in the class has been fighting this same battle. You're up one week, and down the next. The difference is that we've mostly been on that down side, but things appear to be changing for us.
"I thought we ran well at Indy, and even though we ended up on the bump spot, we raced on Labor Day Monday, and that's what counts. As I've said all summer, you can't win if you're not in, and at least now, we're qualifying for eliminations."
Pawuk's team was not in the show after Friday's first session, then moved to the 16th spot by the end of Saturday, and that was enough, as increasing heat and humidity effectively ended qualifying that evening. "Nobody made a move on Sunday at Indy," Pawuk said. "We were one of the quicker cars that day, but we couldn't improve on our 6.871, but neither could anyone else."
Pawuk had a starting line advantage of .037 seconds against Ron Krisher in the first round, but Krisher had the power, and won with a 6.906 as the Summit Pontiac came home second with a 6.984.
"Even though we lost that one, I could tell by the way the car was acting that we had a little more power than we'd had before, and all we had to do was keep working on it as we headed to Reading," Pawuk said.
During the Lucas Oil Nationals Pawuk was the third quickest after the first session, but as he said, "I knew that wasn't going to hold. I think it was a couple of years ago that we were first or second after the first session at Reading, and after the second session we weren't even in the show, but we did come to back to finally qualify."
Despite a improvement to a 6.852 in the second session Pawuk dropped to 14th on the list, and with two good runs under the prevailing conditions on Saturday, still dropped one more to end up 15th.
"Not the ideal starting spot," he said. "But it's a lot better than 17th!"
Pawuk faced Kurt Johnson in the first round of eliminations, during which he cut his best R.T. of the year with a .438 light, and wouldn't you know it, KJ matched him to the thousandth! Johnson won the race by an estimated six feet, crossing the finish line with a 6.877/200/26, with Pawuk right there with a 6.896/198.58. "I could tell by our speed on that one that the engine had gone away a little, but we haven't seen any broken lifters or the like, so it's back to the dyno to find out what happened, and then on to Memphis," he said.
"We're running a lot better than we were a month ago, and at this point that's what we're looking for. Any improvement at all is a step in the right direction, and with five races left we still have some important personal goals, the biggest of which is to crack into the Top 10. If we can do that, I think we can go into 2003 with some very positive momentum."