PHOENIX, February 18, 2001 - Final eliminations for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals were completed today at Firebird International Raceway. PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "The only...
PHOENIX, February 18, 2001 - Final eliminations for the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals were completed today at Firebird International Raceway.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "The only time you need to be in the points lead is after the last race. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to be so far out that you can't get the lead, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Kurt's (Johnson) team, my team, we feel extremely happy with the progress we've made with these cars considering the limited amount of time we've had to test them. We had to take both cars to the wind tunnel, both Kurt's Cavalier and my Grand Am, to make sure that they were aerodynamically equal. Between that, and inclement weather and what not, we probably only have about a total of 50 runs between us on the two cars - if that. We went down to Bradenton a couple of times and it was so cold you couldn't test. We didn't want to go to the Houston Super Bowl because I've been there five times and have only been able to test there once. We were so far behind the eight ball that we decided to take the few runs we had in Bradenton, look at them and compare both cars. Even though the cars are different we generally learned some things about them. Actually considering what Phoenix has been like in the past, this track was excellent as opposed to where it was before. We were pretty pleased with the way this track was overall."
Kurt Johnson (ACDelco Chevrolet Cavalier) - "We've been spoiled. We made some good calls at the right time at the last three races, but I'm a realist and know that nothing lasts forever. We just couldn't negotiate that bump in the right-hand lane and that hurt us when we lost lane choice by four-thousandth's of a second. We just need to work on the 60-foot times on the ACDelco Cavalier to see if we can improve there. That would have given us lane choice going into second round, plus we need to work on getting this car down a rougher racetrack. Right now, this car isn't as smooth my Camaro was over the bumps but that will change once we have an opportunity to put some more laps on this car. Those are two areas we'll be working on. We have a month off between now and Gainesville, and Atlanta Dragway's right up the road, so we're going to burn up some tires, and burn up some gas and go beat on this thing."
Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "Things are starting to click for this team. I wish it could have been a good drag race for the fans an everybody, but something broke in the clutch on the burnout and I knew I was done after that. We tried to give John (Force) a run for his money. He ran 4.92 and we felt the e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird could've run a 4.88 but it would've been a good drag race. We're in the points lead, we're having fun and going to Gainesville to try and continue where we left off here."
Ron Capps (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "The good thing is that we know this Skoal Racing Chevy Camaro Z28 is a good hot rod. Basically, to be able to run the 4.84 and the 4.86 today was pretty awesome. On, the 4.86 I staged a little deeper so that took away from the e.t. All in all it's been a pretty consistent weekend. In the semifinal round, I kept seeing stuff flying out of the engine when I was backing up from the burnout. It turns out that it was eating the belt up - there was an alignment problem on that run so when I stepped on the throttle, a piece of the belt took out our mag retarder which didn't allow the mags to do what they're supposed to do. Consequently we had too much horsepower at that point and that caused it to smoke the tires. I felt like we could easily have run another 4.84. It's unfortunate especially after seeing him run another 4.92. We feel great about how both cars are running. It's those little breaks that you have to get by and it's those little things that bit us last year. It's great to go to the semifinals but we're here to win. We can't wait until Gainesville. This race was just a precursor of what we'll see there. We know how good the air can be and we know how good the track is - there will be national records set! I just hope it's us. That's a big race and one that you work hard to win. Right now we feel good about everything that's going on. We just need to keep plugging away and keep focussed on what we're doing. Tommy (Johnson) and I are both happy with the way this program's going."
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Skoal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - "Sure we're disappointed, but it's a long season and we're going to have our share of success. You learn from your mistakes. We broke a blower snout on the front of the supercharger and the belt came off. It's one of those things that you hardly ever break. It's dejecting because the Skoal Racing Camaro was on it's best pass of the weekend and maybe the best pass of the class all together. It's frustrating to run so well and then lose it like that. But this Chevy Camaro went to the second round today and hopefully we can go further when we get to Gainesville. Ron (Capps) ran so well in front of me right before our run so we knew the potential was there. I saw him disappear out my window and thought I had him and then the motor just went silent. We're pretty optimistic. It's just a matter of time before this team wins. It's that good of a team, the performance is there and when things fall our way you'd better look out."
Chuck Etchells (Kendall/Matco Tools Camaro) -- "Quite frankly, we were lucky to have made It to the second round. If Jim (Epler) hadn't broken, I'm sure he would have beaten us. So, it's not a rewarding feeling to have made it to the second round. We have to find consistency. We had some mechanical glitches caused by having a few new guys on the crew that plagued us in qualifying. That set us back a little bit, but more importantly, it put some question marks on some of the decisions that (crew chief) Terry Manzer made, which you can't have. In order to tune these things, you have to know exactly what you're tuning. We are going to have to focus a lot harder on going from A to B. If we had done that today, we would be in the semi-finals. We didn't have the car today to beat a (Ron) Capps or (Bruce) Sarver, but we certainly had the car to take out John Force in that round. He ran a 5.05 with dropped cylinders and heads burning up from half-track on, and we're sitting there at the starting line smoking the tires. You can't win races doing that."