PHOENIX, February 17, 2001 - Qualifying for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals was completed today at Firebird International Raceway. In Pro Stock, the field shuffled considerably during two excellent qualifying sessions, but ...
PHOENIX, February 17, 2001 - Qualifying for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals was completed today at Firebird International Raceway. In Pro Stock, the field shuffled considerably during two excellent qualifying sessions, but Mike Edwards' Young Life Pontiac Firebird held onto the top spot with yesterday's run of 6.886 seconds at 199.88 mph. It was Edwards first career pole position. Kurt Johnson demonstrated that he was ready for race day by taking the ACDelco Chevy Cavalier to the No. 2 starting spot with a lap in the final session of 6.890 seconds at a track-record top speed of 200.74 mph. Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Grand Am is qualified third with a pass of 6.892 seconds at 200.29 mph. Ron Krisher is fourth in a Firebird, Jim Yates is fifth in a Grand Am, Jeg Coughlin Jr. is sixth in a Cutlass and Brad Jeter is eighth in a Grand Am.
In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore ran a career-best elapsed time of 4.835 seconds in the Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird and will start raceday from the No. 3 position. Scotty Cannon is fourth in a Firebird, Bruce Sarver is fifth in a Firebird, Ron Capps is sixth in a Camaro, Chuck Etchells is seventh in a Camaro, Frank Pedregon is eighth in a Firebird, Tommy Johnson Jr. is ninth in a Camaro and Jim Epler is 10th in a Camaro. The No. 1 qualifier is Dean Skuza. John Force is qualified second. Mike Dunn's Gwynn/Steinbrenner GMC Yankee Dragster will start from the No. 1 position with yesterday's run of 4.521 seconds at 328.22 mph. Larry Dixon is qualified second in the Miller Lite/Chevrolet, Doug Herbert is third, Tony Schumacher is fourth and Gary Scelzi is fifth.
Mike Edwards (Young Life Pontiac Firebird) - "We figured we'd be a little bit behind with the Firebirds, but I think once everyone gets a handle on these new cars, they'll really start to shine a lot more than they are right now. We're real happy with our program, happy for Young Life and I'm the happiest guy in the world right now. We qualified No. 1, get to race and tell these young kids about Christ - that's the greatest thing in the world. We still need to make some adjustments on Ron's (Krisher) car - we made a wheelie bar adjustment on his car and he had to shut off. I feel pretty comfortable with my car. It looks like the right lane is the lane of choice for Pro Stock right now. It's hard to get through a section of that eighth mile on the left side, at least for me and that will be something we work on. If it's cloudy like this tomorrow, that left lane may come around, but right now the right side is the lane of choice. I never was scared to work. I want both cars to run so well and sometimes I beat myself up when one doesn't do as well as the other. It's a long season and that's how we need to look at it - it's just not one race. But working with the two cars is definitely harder. This class is so competitive and just to qualify is a big achievement. But to qualify No. 1 and put that Pontiac Firebird up at the top of the ladder is pretty special."
Kurt Johnson (ACDelco Chevrolet Cavalier) - "We're happy with the 6.89. We left a little on the table at 60 foot - the car doesn't want to spin. We're still learning about the car, but feel we could have got on the pole. We're a little upset about that run being thrown out yesterday - it cost us $3000 and we feel was a mistake by NHRA. But hey, tomorrow's raceday and we're going to see if we can put this ACDelco Cavalier in the winner's circle again and keep the streak alive. We found a shock problem that we feel actually went bad on the last run at Pomona. We started looking at the records and finally caught it before this last run here. The car's just been out of control from third gear to the finish line, just bouncing and spinning and shaking. We've fixed that and are pretty pumped up about tomorrow. If we can stay in that right lane then we think we have a pretty good shot at winning."
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "The right lane is the lane of choice here. This morning we missed an excellent opportunity. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am probably should've run a 6.88 or 6.89 but we just missed it a little on the clutch and went 6.90. We've got some problems with our clutch material right now and it's giving us inconsistency. It's just coming apart. It's hard to race a car when it's running so inconsistent to be quite honest. We're fighting an uphill battle right now. I mean we're qualified fifth, and hopefully that lane will be good enough in the morning so we can go out there and get a round-one victory."
Ron Capps (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "We knew when we tested here in January that with the numbers our two Camaros ran, the track was going to be even better when the NHRA came in and prepped it for competition. We felt that our cars were very soft when we tested here so we knew then that the potential was there for the quickest Funny Car field ever and the quickest run under the 90-percent rules, which is what Dean Skuza just did. The competition out here is pushing everybody out to do the best that they possibly can and it's really a lot of fun. When you beat people, you're beating them at their best. This place has been unbelievable. To have so many guys run mid and low 4.80s, and seeing guys run there career best is something to watch. Unfortunately we didn't run the 80-flat but we feel good about Sunday. We know what both of these Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaros can do. We actually tried a couple of different things on my car, and Tommy's car, and feel that we learned something from that. I'm excited about tomorrow."
Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "It's been exciting. Yesterday we were dicing with Etchells and today with Force and his guys and it's been fun. The potential was here today for us to make an improvement, but we had a problem with the motor on the last run. It was talking to us in the pits, but we thought it was okay, but when we started it, Lee (Beard) and I both noticed something at the starting line that wasn't quite normal. We were shooting for No. 1 today, and came up short, but this team was outstanding today. The Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird finished up third and now we just need to focus on tomorrow, try to be consistent and try not to have the same problem that we had tonight. We made three very good runs and that gives us a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow. Even with the runs that we made, while they were very good, the car's still not perfect. We're still chipping away on the performance of this Firebird, and when we get it right it's going to be an awfully tough racecar to beat."
Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "We're definitely ready to go tomorrow. That last session the track was very, very good. We knew that but we looked at either going for the pole or trying something. We had tried something on the clutch in the first session today that helped us considerably and we wanted to take it a little bit farther to find the limit. If it ran to the finish line the e-moola.com Firebird probably would've grabbed low elapsed time. That doesn't even phase us a bit because we weren't just trying to be No. 1, we were trying something that would help us in the long run. We have a good gameplan, a perfectly good hot rod and we're ready to get it on tomorrow. If it's overcast tomorrow like it was today we can run mid to low 4.80s all day long. The track can hold it. And if the sun comes out, you're still going to have to run high 4.80s to win this race. We were able to do that when it was hot out here and it when it cooled down."
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "This is a pretty stellar field. Just to be a part of it is a privilege. We had a blower belt that let go on the first run when Ron (Capps) ran the 4.84. We probably would've been somewhere similar to that. The second run we were being awfully aggressive trying to turn the big number and the car shook really hard. The opportunity was there to put this Skoal Racing Camaro on the pole and we went for it. Now we'll go back and just race tomorrow - get this thing down the racetrack. Team knows how to do that just fine and I'm feel pretty confident about our chances. On raceday people tend to get a little bit more conservative after they get safely in the show. It's going to take a 4.85 or better to win this race tomorrow."
Mike Dunn (Gwynn/Steinbrenner/GMC Yankee Dragster) - "We're still No. 1, but I really wanted to try and back it up today. We put a new blower on it for the first run and it came up a little soft. We weren't too concerned with it because it was a decent run. For the next run we tried to step it up, but it didn't and it went out there and shook the tires. So we're going to put our other blower on there that we had on yesterday for tomorrow and try and step it up. Hopefully there's not any kind of a problem. They're going to look over it all tonight. Hopefully it will be myself and (Larry) Dixon in the finals because we've both been running so well, it just seems right. But you never know what is going to happen on race day. Seeing how we have a bye tomorrow it does change the strategy a little bit. We'll try and go out there and give the track all it can hold. I don't think I've ever had a first-round bye. The lanes here are real even, so on race day a lot of guys like to go in a little deeper at the starting line because it makes your reaction time better, but makes your elapsed time a little worse. So we will probably just play it safe tomorrow, go up to the line and won't stage to deep. We're still excited about our chances and hope for a great day tomorrow. No. 1 qualifier - 4.521ET/328.22mph