PHOENIX (February 26, 2000) - The field is set for the 16th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, and after two days of qualifying under sunny desert skies, Jim Yates is the highest qualified Pontiac Pro Stock Car in the No. 2 position. The...
PHOENIX (February 26, 2000) - The field is set for the 16th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, and after two days of qualifying under sunny desert skies, Jim Yates is the highest qualified Pontiac Pro Stock Car in the No. 2 position. The Splitfire/Peak Firebird had an elapsed time of 6.899 seconds at 199.58 mph. Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird improved to the No. 4 qualifying position today with an elapsed time of 6.909 seconds at 198.47 mph. Bruce Allen and the Reher-Morrison Firebird will start tomorrow's race in the No. 5 position. Warren Johnson is qualified sixth, Richie Stevens jumps up to eighth, Greg Anderson's Firebird is ninth, Mike Trumble is 10th, George Marnell is 11th, Tom Martino is 13th and Jamie Yates survives the bubble qualified 16th. The No. 1 qualifier is Kurt Johnson in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 6.890 seconds at 200.38 mph. Jeg Coughlin is qualified second in an Oldsmobile.
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've been doing a little bit of maintenance work on the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird, making some changes here and there and based on what we have to work with, we'll be all right. We used one of Kurt's (Johnson) spare motors today. We don't have a spare that's any good because everything we have is used up. It will be right around Gainesville before we're at 100 percent. Kurt has two new motors with all new parts. Right around Gainesville we'll have fresh parts for my motors as well. Whether it's before or after we don't know yet, but we'll be in good shape here shortly. We're operating at about 95 percent power right now. First things first though. We have to qualify and then we have to make the right decisions after that. Hopefully we can turn those decisions into a win. We have enough data on this track to win the race tomorrow. The car is down on power from where we're accustomed to being but we're in contention." No. 6 qualifier - 6.925ET/199.20MPH
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We're extremely excited about the way the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird ran in that last session. We've been struggling a little bit with some of the things the car's done since Pomona. It's run really good, but it just hasn't been making nice looking graphs. We changed some things around in the gear ratios for that last run and the car seemed to run a lot better like that. We were running pretty fast before, but we were lacking a little momentum. We were able to make the change and step right up. We're pretty excited about the opportunity tomorrow. I think the track conditions we were in tonight will be similar to what we're going to run in tomorrow. This combination seems to tame it down enough where it wants to run fast. In the right lane we ran real strong. Kurt's (Johnson) 6.89 this morning was pretty good, but I think the track was a little bit cooler than it was tonight. It was pretty hot this afternoon and there weren't a lot of cars going down it that fast. To run a 6.90 is pretty strong right now, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see just how competitive this car is going to be. I'm excited because the car ran on the hot, slick racetrack this afternoon. Rickie (Smith) made a change, the car liked it and it ran good on that kind of a racetrack. That's critical because tomorrow we're going to be on a hot slick racetrack and this Firebird really seems to like it." No. 2 qualifier - 6.899ET/199.58MPH
Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) "We're going back to the right lane tonight which is the better of the two lanes. We've made some changes to the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird to try and, maybe not necessarily pick up, but at least run as good as we have all weekend. The 6.920 was a really good run in that left lane so with that in mind, we're using this final session to take care of some minor problems. What we're doing is getting loose in the middle -- we're spinning in second and third gear, so we made some changes to the car to try and fix that, and I think if we fix it, we should pick up if the conditions are favorable. We're not really going for the throat so to speak, we're actually going to a mode where we can make a better run while at the same time, trying to tune it up for tomorrow. We're trying to decide which way to go for the car setup and no matter happens, it should show us what direction we need to go. This morning we were the second car out, and that's never good because the first couple of cars seem to have more trouble than you do later in the session. I feel like we have a real good racecar for tomorrow. It's been a long time since we've made this many good runs back to back. I knew the run this morning could have been better and I was surprised that it ran a 6.93 based on our past experience. Those kind of runs haven't been that fast, so I'm real happy with the way the car's running. We went down both lanes good and I think we have an excellent shot at this thing on Sunday." No. 5 qualifier - 6.920ET/198.61
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We've just been working on the racecar and trying to get the clutch right. It's a pretty rough racetrack out there, and our car doesn't like that, but we did run fast on the first part of the track this morning. Our 60 and 330-foot times have been just awesome which may be why we were able to lay a good run down. It still wasn't real pretty this morning, but the track, especially in the left lane at the transition, has such a deep bump there that it wants to upset these cars. Originally we didn't think we would run that well, but last night after we ran that 6.93 and made a terrible run, I was a little bit more optimistic. I think the right lane is faster and we have a ton of things that we want to try in the final qualifying session. Hopefully we won't throw the session away too much. We're hoping that not too many guys can run better than a 6.90. We've learned some things for down the road and that's encouraging. It would be nice to be able to lay four good ones down. That would give us a lot of confidence going into race day. We still need to get that monkey off our back we've been carrying around for a couple of years and that was still with us at Pomona. You never know. We're keeping a positive attitude and doing the best we can. The Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is a fast hot rod, and if the driver does his job, we make some decent runs, and get a little bit of luck, you never know what might happen on raceday."
Second Session: We got down the racetrack four times consistently and that's the key to being successful on raceday. The Summit Racing Firebird could have run faster. We were testing that run and obviously we didn't like what we saw. I think our 6.95 was one of the fastest runs of the session so you can't be too disappointed. I'm not complaining. We know this car will go faster, tomorrow's a whole new day, we're in the show now and it's a big improvement from last year when we didn't qualify. I'm optimistic and we'll try to continue the pattern we've established during qualifying. If we do that then maybe we can win a round or two." No. 4 qualifier - 6.909ET/198.47MPH
Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "That was the smoothest run of the year for us. We were all pretty nervous in the Valspar pit. I was nervous, [crew chief] Tommy [Utt] was nervous, my dad was nervous. What a great feeling to put down a lap like that. We left the pit knowing we had done all the right things to make us run well, but you just don't know until you do it. I wanted to get in so bad I drove way past the finish line just to make sure I got everything out of this Valspar Pontiac Firebird. Warren [Johnson] gave us the horsepower we needed. It was there all weekend. We just had to get the car squared away and we didn't do that until Round 4." No. 8 qualifier - 6.929ET/197.51MPH
George Marnell (Marnell & Black/Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) - We're doing pretty good right now. We started off a little slow, but we're on a learning curve here, trying some new stuff. But we're creeping up on it and actually made a pretty good pass this morning. I feel pretty good about tomorrow. In the last session, I put it up on the chip, bumped in and lit the first light. Kurt (Johnson) lit his light and bumped his car in. I rolled it in, and when I put it on the chip it rolled back out. It was flickering the light back and forth, and I tried to get off the throttle and bump it back in to get the light back on and then he red lit me. That's one of those things that happens, and I'm glad it happened today and not tomorrow. We tried to get in real shallow for the best e.t. for qualifying and we ended up getting in a little too shallow. We have Warren (Johnson) in the first round tomorrow and he's going to be tough. It will be a good race but I think he's vulnerable right now. We have a shot and we're going to give it everything we've got. Hopefully he'll know he's been in a race." No. 11 qualifier - 6.939ET/197.83MPH
Jamie Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) -- "Racing tomorrow is really more than I could ask for. I've been watching a long time and now tomorrow I finally get to race. We've worked hard this week to get the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird in the show and at Pomona we had some trouble that we've been able to overcome. We were feeling some pressure going into that final round because the field had been really tight. Maybe a little closer than I would have liked it to be. But we're getting there. Once we get a chance to make a few more runs we should be able to get this car qualified a little higher in the show. At least I'm in and now I can get some experience. I'm learning more and more each time I make a pass and you have to be on your game to get into the 16-car field. I'm learning slowly but surely." No. 16 qualifier - 6.956ET/197.65MPH