Pomona: Mark Pawuk eliminations summary

Pawuk qualifies in top half of quickest Pro Stock field. RICHFIELD, OH 2/11/03 The 2003 NHRA POWERade season began with a bang for Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's Summit Racing Pro Stock Pontiac Grand Am. With invaluable assistance from co-crew chiefs ...

Pawuk qualifies in top half of quickest Pro Stock field.

RICHFIELD, OH 2/11/03 The 2003 NHRA POWERade season began with a bang for Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk's Summit Racing Pro Stock Pontiac Grand Am. With invaluable assistance from co-crew chiefs Marcus Bowen and 10-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden, Pawuk qualified in the top half of the quickest Pro Stock field in NHRA history with a strong 6.797/202.36 effort. It was the first time that Pawuk had qualified in the top half of an NHRA field since the 2002 Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing.

With 37 of 38 entrants recording elapsed times quicker than 6.896 seconds, and 35 recording speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, the Winternationals field was certainly the best ever assembled. More personal bests were recorded than we have the room to list, but in Pawuk's case, while his numbers weren't all-time personal bests, he did exceed his best effort from 2002. That included a 6.798 second elapsed time at the Matco Tools Supernationals, and a speed of 202.18 mph notched at last year's Winternationals.

After extensive testing the team began the season with their trusty Jerry Bickel-built Grand Am, but further testing will be conducted with the team's Don Ness-built version of the car.

Prior to coming to the Winternationals Pawuk and the Summit Racing Pontiac spent a day at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway filming a Pontiac commercial that will be shown in conjunction with both the NHRA race telecasts as well as other sporting events during the year. As Pawuk said following the commercial shoot, "We're honored to have been involved with the likes of Warren Johnson, Jim Yates and Pontiac's Sport Compact team. It was a fun experience for us, but more importantly, we think this kind of thing is extremely beneficial for all of our sponsors, including Summit Racing Equipment, Matco Tools, Mr. Heater Corporation, Pennzoil and our other supporters."

On Sunday morning, while the team was warming the engine in the Summit Racing Pontiac, a lifter broke, and that resulted in one of those last second thrashes that make drag racing so exciting. Bowen and Glidden made the necessary repairs, but there was real concern going into eliminations, and, as it turned out, with good cause.

Knowing that his engine was slightly damaged, and also knowing that first round opponent Greg Anderson would cut an exceptional Reaction Time, Pawuk went for it and came up a slim .001 too quick, and redlighted away his chances. Anderson did as expected, and came up with a perfect .000 Reaction Time, and then recorded a winning 6.801 second ET as Pawuk's car suffered more engine damage, slowing to a 6.864.

"When we got the car back to the pits," he said, "we found that one of the cylinders was leaking badly, so we know we've got problems. The engine is being returned to the shop right now, so we'll be ready for the CSK Nationals in Phoenix in a few weeks.

"I have mixed emotions about our start. I'm obviously pleased about the way we ran, and also how efficiently Bob and Marcus worked together, but we're all a little disappointed about how things turned out in eliminations.

"It's obvious that we're on the right track, so now we've got to go out there and win rounds."

Next: Additional testing if time permits, then the CSK Nationals in Phoneix, February 20-23.

-sr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden