Phoenix Friday Notes & Quotes

PHOENIX (February 25, 2000) - Qualifying for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals got underway today at Firebird International Raceway with two rounds of time trials. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates is currently qualified in the No 1 qualifying position.

PHOENIX (February 25, 2000) - Qualifying for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals got underway today at Firebird International Raceway with two rounds of time trials. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates is currently qualified in the No 1 qualifying position. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird qualified with an elapsed time of 6.899 seconds at 199.58 mph. Bruce Allen is qualified second, Warren Johnson is fourth, Mark Pawuk is sixth, Richie Stevens is 16th, Jamie Yates is 18th, George Marnell is 19th, Steve Schmidt is 20th and Tom Martino is 33rd.

In Funny Car, Al Hofmann's Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird jumped to the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 4.970 seconds at 300.66 mph. Del Worsham and the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird is fourth, Frank Pedregon is sixth, Cristen Powell is seventh, Dale Creasy Jr. is 11th, Bruce Sarver is 14th, Phil Burkhart is 17th and Gary Densham is 19th. Ron Capps is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.895 seconds at 305.42 mph. Tony Pedregon is third in a Mustang and Whit Bazemore is fifth in a Camaro.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan is qualified in the No. 6 spot. The MBNA/Pontiac covered the quarter mile in 4.688 seconds at 308.43 mph. Gary Scelzi is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.579 seconds at 317.05 mph. Larry Dixon is second, Joe Amato is third, Melanie Troxel is fourth and Tony Schumacher is fifth.

Television coverage of the CSK Nationals can be seen on Speedvision on Sunday, February 27 beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We're actually not up to where we need to be. We had a vendor supply problem before the Winternationals and we proceeded to ruin nine engines. The parts to replace those pieces are not going to be available until right after Gainesville, so we're going to have to limp through this race and Gainesville before we're back up to full strength. We also made some other changes on the car from this morning's run like driveline parts and what not, but we'll be okay here shortly." No. 4 qualifier - 6.925ET/199.20MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We're extremely impressed with how well the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird ran in the first session. Rickie (Smith) did some experimenting with the four-link heading into Pomona and obviously he's got a good combination on the car. It wants to get down the track no matter what the conditions give us. It was pretty loose out in the middle in third gear, but it drove right through there and marched to the finish line. I'm sure the car has a little left in it but I can't tell you it has a lot. If the track gets better after the fuel cars run then we should pick up tomorrow morning. First and second gear were close to perfect. I put it in third and it rattled the tires a little bit right through the middle of that gear, but from fourth all the way to the finish line the engine was pulling extremely strong. Bob (Ingles) had to take the motor home after Pomona and fix a couple of things we had problems with. I'll let Rickie figure out what we need to do next. I don't know if we'll be trying anything new or if we'll just try to baseline it again, make sure we back it up and not try to get carried away. Our baseline right now is pretty quick and I think we'll stay right close to center and not make any mistakes. I'd say we'll probably go back out this afternoon, put it right back in the lanes like it was this morning, fix that run with a couple of minor changes in the clutch and let her go down through there."

Second Session: "We started off this morning really strong and felt like we had a little left in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. This afternoon, the weather was a little warmer so we just tried to experiment with some new stuff. We still ran a 6.92, and I think that's pretty decent but it wasn't as fast as we should have run. We're looking forward to tomorrow. We're basically going to mess with the chassis a little bit and we're going to try a different combination of bars on the car to see how that works. The car seems to be doing really well right now, we just want to see if we have something else for it. I don't know how safe that No. 1 qualifying positions is going to be. It depends on Mother Nature. If it warms up a couple of degrees then we're all right. If it gets cooler then it's going to get faster out there. I think there are cars out there capable of bumping us out of that top spot. When we ran the 6.89 it wasn't a perfect run, and there are cars out there that on a good run can run quicker than that. If the weather's right then the opportunity may be there for someone to step up, but at the same time it will give us the opportunity to improve as well. No. 1 qualifier - 6.899ET/199.58MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) "Everybody's going to tell you the same thing in that you never make a perfect run. But we were really out of shape in that first session. We were sideways in third gear, spinning in fourth and it was just a matter of being too aggressive on the clutch. I ran a little too far in the gears and the car got a little loose. I really think we could have performed a lot better but it sure makes you feel good knowing that you're started in the right direction. Let's face it, it's not unusual for us to have problems, but if we do at least we're going to be in safe. We're not going to get bumped out no matter what happens so that's a good way to start. I think the Reher-Morrison Firebird has enough left to really improve. Even if the conditions aren't quite as good tomorrow as they were this morning, I think we'll improve. To me, that's encouraging. We're in better shape than we've been in a long time. I'm tickled. We've been working real hard on the engine program. We also go out and run our car a little bit -- we don't go crazy, but we do try and pick up wherever we can, we're paying more attention to details and we're being much more focussed on how we start. We try and get our first run down the track in the field solid. Plus, our engines are running much better than they were before. In the off season, we had an opportunity to sit down and evaluate where we were, how the last half of the season went and what we needed to do to get better. We feel like we're capable of winning races, being in the thick of the point's chase and being one of the fastest cars out here. We weren't taking advantage of all the opportunities that were presented to us. At the end of last year we started making some big progress and we've just been able to keep the momentum rolling forward." No. 2 qualifier - 6.920ET/198.61MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "The Summit Racing Firebird started shaking in second gear, shook most of the way through third and finally came out of it in fourth. All things considered, I was pretty pleased with the e.t. I'm not going to complain. There are a lot of good cars that didn't make a good run this morning and we're disappointed that we didn't run better than we did because we're in the left lane for the next two sessions. After not qualifying last year we're a lot farther along than we were this time a year ago. Tonight, we'll tune the car to see if we can find a setup that will get down the left lane. I think it's still going to be pretty good this afternoon and probably good tomorrow morning. It will all depend on what the weather gives us." No. 6 qualifier - 6.933ET/198.76MPH


Al Hofmann (Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird) - "We needed something good out there, and the new Pontiac Firebird body got down through there just fine. We hurt the strut a little bit, so we probably won't run the next session. We don't want to put the other body on it because we know it won't have the down force we need. The motor looked OK, the car just went just a little crooked at the end, but that was when we hurt the strut. Right now, we're happy with the car." No. 2 qualifier - 4.970ET/300.66MPH Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "The red Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac wasn't that far off really. A lot of teams had problems right from the hit of the throttle, but our car launched pretty well and was smooth. What happened to us was a mag retarder problem. We set our magnetos to retard at a specific spot in the run, to help us get through that area without tire smoke. For some reason, the retarder worked fine in the staging lanes when I tested the system, but it didn't work on the run. So the motor stayed up and we just blew the tires off. I really think if we just fix that problem we'll put a good lap on the board without having to make many changes."

Second Session: "See, people probably think we make this stuff up after bad runs like our first one. You know, like we don't want to say that we just weren't any good, so we always talk about how good it was running before the trouble. It was always 'on a good pass.' Well, I knew our mag problem from the first lap could be corrected and I really think the car would just run straight down the track if we just left it alone and fixed the problem, so that's what I said. And that's what we did. It wasn't perfect, it was getting over near the wall and I couldn't bring it back, so I had to click it a little early. Our teammate Frank Pedregon went a few pairs ahead of us and when he put up a nice lap we got charged up, we wanted to make it two-for-two in the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen camp. Now, we've got two solid laps to study for tomorrow, that's what this team thing is all about. I'm going to sleep a little better tonight." No. 4 qualifier - 5.031ET/284.45MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We didn't have enough power that time, and it shook like a maniac right right from the start. Plus, it put a cylinder out on the left bank immediately, and that was pulling me toward the wall. Between the car going left and the motor not sounding too healthy, I knew the best thing to do was shut it off and try again. We don't need to be senselessly hurting motors on out new bodies on runs that aren't going anywhere anyway. We'll step on it a little this afternoon and go for a good solid pass we can work from."

Second Session: "That was a nice conservative run, nice and easy, didn't hurt a thing. This team really needed that too, they've been feeling the pressure and we want to do here at our sponsor's race, and as the new kids in town. Del and Chuck have been working so well with us, sharing information and tips with Dave (Fletcher) and me. This run was a perfect example of the two-car theory. We took two bad runs and got our information together enough to both go out and make good runs in the second session. Just like Del, I'm pretty charged up, but I don't know if I'll sleep any better tonight. I'm ready to get right back in the car and run it again so we can improve on this." No. 6 qualifier - 5.078ET/297.88MPH

Cristen Powell (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We tested our Firebird in Gainesville this past weekend and got a lot done. Unfortunately today, there was a cylinder out, which ruined the run. Ronnie and I had discussed pedaling, so I just tried to pedal it and get it to the end. It was shaking so bad, and once you drop a cylinder, you're thinking 'don't bother.' We did qualify 11th, so it's not like we're having a unique problem here. We're not too worried at this point, I'm just going to go out there on the next run and be a little more aggressive. Al Hofmann did really well as the No. 1 qualifier, and hopefully Pontiac's will end up No. 1 and No. 2, with us being No. 1."

Second Session: "Just to make it down the track was great, and a 5.13ET, we'll definitely take that. I watched Del (Worsham) in front of me go a 5.03ET, and then to run my time right after that was pretty exciting. That was our second full pass. We had done a full pass in Pomona last month and also in testing in Gainesville. We're finally to the point where we've done enough testing where I think we're on the same playing field as everyone else. We'll be good for race day, because there's still room to improve this Pontiac Firebird, so we'll just see." No. 7 qualifier - 5.130ET/290.44MPH

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "Obviously the 2000 Pontiac Firebird body worked real well for Jim Dunn and Al Hoffman this morning. We had a few things off like probably most everybody else did, and we went out there and smoked the tires, so we'll make some adjustments this afternoon and hopefully run real good this evening." No. 19 qualifier

Dale Creasy (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "We're all just real happy to get this Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird down the racetrack. We struggled in Pomona with the new fuel combination, and when we were at home my dad thought about what we needed to do, and we did it. It worked, and I'm real happy right now. Just to get down the racetrack without hurting my race car is a good thing." No. 11 qualifier - 5.293ET/281.83MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Melanie Troxel , George Marnell , Cristen Powell