Pomona Pontiac Friday Notes

Pomona, Calif. (February 4, 2000) - Qualifying continued today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates' Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird is qualified in the No. 1 position with an event record elapsed time...

Pomona, Calif. (February 4, 2000) - Qualifying continued today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates' Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird is qualified in the No. 1 position with an event record elapsed time of 6.878 seconds at 199.58 mph. Tom Martino's Century 21 Firebird moved into the No. 3 position with a lap of 6.886 seconds at 200.14 mph. Bruce Allen's Reher-Morrison Firebird is fifth, Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird is sixth, Warren Johnson is 11th, Richie Stevens is 15th, Jamie Yates is 17th, George Marnell is 18th and Steve Schmidt is 26th.

In Funny Car, Johnny Gray's Pontiac Firebird is the best-qualified Firebird in the No. 7 position with an elapsed time 5.058 seconds at 301.20 mph. Bruce Sarver's emoola.com Pontiac Firebird is eighth with an elapsed time of 5.085 seconds at 266.27 mph. Del Worsham is qualified 10th, Frank Pedregon is 12th, Gary Densham is 15th, Dale Creasy is 19th, Cruz Pedregon is 20th, Al Hofmann is 21st and Cristen Powell is 24th.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan is qualified in the No. 8 position with an elapsed time of 4.742 seconds at 307.09 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Gary Scelzi with an elapsed time of 4.656 seconds at 316.60 mph. Larry Dixon is qualified second, Doug Kalitta is third, Joe Amato is fourth and Tony Schumacher is fifth.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We had only a small number of runs with the Hoosiers before we came here, and none of our testing was on a national event caliber track. "Now we're finding out where we stand relative to everyone else. We'll start making changes now because we're collecting some valid data. I could switch back to the Goodyear tires and probably pick up our performance, but that would slow our progress in developing the Hoosiers. I'll bite the bullet for a race or two in order to get the data we need. It's a matter of short-term pain for long-term gain. We only ran 198 mph, but we're down almost 200 rpm at the finish line because of the tire's growth characteristics." No. 11 qualifier - 6.938ET/198.17MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) -- "It was a really nice run. We were a little light on the clutch, and I honestly think we could have been on the pole if I had enough clutch in it. It also feels pretty good to have the CENTURY 21Ò Firebird be the only car to have gone 200 so far. All in all, not getting data from a proper run put us behind, so we were a little cautious today. It didn't bite us, because we still ran well, but that's why we didn't run up to our full potential. Today's run was very, very good, but we just want to make an excellent one. We'll try to do that tomorrow." No. 3 qualifier - 6.886ET/200.14MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) -- "It's surprising how good the track was today. Yesterday the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird spun a little bit in that right lane but we came over in the left lane this afternoon. With the cloud cover and the better air conditions the track was just tremendous. The 6.87 is pretty fast for us right now and is also an event record. The new Don Ness car is working better and really seems to run well. We still have a little bit of work to do on the chassis but we're very pleased with our progress so far. As long as the conditions stay this good I think we'll see some even faster times tomorrow with the morning and afternoon qualifying sessions. We worked very hard over the winter to get where we are today. Working with Bob Ingles, we have this GM DRCE engine program working real well. We started with it at Phoenix last year and now it's come full circle. We have a brand new Don Ness chassis and we're really excited about how well the car is working. Rickie Smith's on board as our new crew chief and he's a pretty sharp 'cat. Rickie can drive them, he can race them, he can tune them and we've been friends for a long time. The last time I was No. 1 qualifier was a year and a half ago at Brainerd and Rickie was my crew chief. But it's a team package - you need a fast car, a fast motor and you need to make a good run in the good lane at the right time. The most exciting part for me is that we're running consistently at the front of the pack in the top couple of cars. This Firebird is running great, we're working well as a team, we have a lot of new people on board and we've driven every day for the last seven days. It's shows in our performance." No. 1 qualifier - 6.878ET/199.58MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird) -- "We're pretty happy with our progress so far. We're staying on what we feel is the conservative side of the tune-up, trying to sneak up on it a little bit because I think we'll have two more good runs tomorrow where we can improve some. Last year we learned that maybe it's better to go in that direction than to get too aggressive early and throw runs away. We're sticking with our gameplan, and with this facility the track's good enough that we can do that and still run decent. We're looking forward to coming back tomorrow morning and improving a little bit. I definitely think we can because we should have a very good session. With that in mind we've been playing it that way. We were looking at the weather real close, but the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird has just been awesome. The car looks like it's responding to what we want to do for a change. We had a lot of curves thrown at us last year - some of it was our fault and some of it was because you had to be just perfect during the one and only good qualifying session of the weekend. In these conditions that isn't the case. You don't have to go all out for it on one run. I think that's playing into our hands a little bit. The car's improved from last year, the engine runs better than last year and if we can get some more runs on it we can tune it up even more. Overall I'm tickled that we're running this good out of the box and feel fortunate to be in this position. Tomorrow we'll go step on it a little to try and improve. We can't run a 6.85, but we'd like to run a 6.88. We're only a thousandth off the car in front of us and if we can make the right run we can move up a couple of positions." No. 5 qualifier - 6.896ET/199.23MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) -- "I was a little worried after yesterday but we stepped right up today. I think there's still a little bit left in the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird but I'm sure there are a lot of guys who feel the same way. We have our old dinosaur out here running pretty fast. With three hundredths separating the top six positions it just goes to show how stout this field is. This class got even more competitive like I figured it would once they got the gas situation changed. Hopefully we can continue to improve, but anymore just being in the top half improves your chances considerably on Sunday. The car didn't run as well as it usually does on the first part of the racetrack. We need to work on the clutch, which is my job now, so I'm going to have to tune her up."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) -- "That was a pretty decent pass that maybe could have been a few hundredths of a second better. But we still have a lot of room to improve. We're barely hanging in there right now and that's not a very comfortable feeling. It's taking us a little longer than expected to get the Valspar Refinish Firebird set-up for Warren Johnson horsepower. W.J.'s stuff really shows through on the top end of the track, which is the exact opposite of the motors we were using last year that were stronger at the launching pad. Tommy's working very hard and I have complete faith that he'll get this car ready to go by tomorrow. I'd definitely like to move up to the top half of the field so that we can have lane choice come Sunday. It could be the difference between winning or losing." No. 15 qualifier - 6.954ET/197.42MPH


Bruce Sarver (emoola.com Pontiac Firebird) -- "The weekend's going pretty good. Yesterday on the very first run the emoola.com Pontiac Firebird went 5.08 at 266 mph. We had a vibration in the car at about half-track on so I shut it off early. Today, the weather was nice and cool, the track was nice and cool and we had it tuned-up to put a number on the board. We just didn't go very far. Every run I get out there feels better and better. I'm pretty nice and relaxed in the staging lanes so it's coming around. We're just going to try and go back up there tomorrow and step up to a 4.90. It's just a matter of coming up with the right ingredients." No. 8 qualifier - 5.085ET/266.27MPH

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) -- "We made a great run yesterday. The NEC Pontiac Firebird was really flying - on a career best run for me at that to half-track. Then it started smoking the tires and I shut it off. We thought it might do it again today but unfortunately it smoked the tires on the starting line. We're not very happy with that but we're still confident that we can make some adjustments and run at the front of the pack tomorrow. We had a great test session at Tucson, Larry Meyer's come on board to help us and between him and Greg Amaral, we have talented people thinking about what we need to do with the car. I have all the faith in the world that we're going to do well this weekend." No. 15 qualifier - 5.236ET/249.67MPH

Cruz Pedregon (CruzMissile Pontiac Firebird) -- "We were only able to make one test run before the season began and yesterday we lost that first run because of an air leak. Today was actually our first run and I would say that we're still trying to adjust to the 90-percent deal. We got some new pistons in today and the fuel deal kind of threw us a curve. We'll be ready for tomorrow with a set of pistons that will give us the right amount of compression. That will give Dale (Pulde) something else to work with. We'll be running on eight cylinders and we're confident it will move on down the track." No. 20 qualifier

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) -- "That's a baseline, that's what we wanted. When we smoked the tires at the hit yesterday, it really disappointed us because it doesn't give us much to work from. This run was nice and easy, and it went straight on down there. It was actually haulin' pretty good at the top end, I might have clicked it just a little early. I'm really pleased, because it takes a lot of pressure off going into tomorrow. We weren't trying to go out there today and set any kind of record runs, we just wanted to get a nice lap under our belts, and that's what we did. It's like a quarterback starting a new season, he wants to get that first completion. Sometimes the best approach is to run a safe route and get a nice gain, then go for more after that. I plan on being plenty competitive tomorrow, we'll look at the data from both cars and see where we can go to run some serious numbers. And speaking of our other Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird, that was the Blue Team's first full pass, and they got a solid baseline number out of it too. It looks like it's all coming together." No. 10 qualifier - 5.098ET/295.12MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) -- "Man oh man, that felt nice to hit the parachutes and power it down there. We cleaned up the shake pretty well, and the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird went nice and straight, and was nice and easy to drive. We did eat up some pistons at the top end, but it wasn't horrible damage, and thankfully we didn't put anything out on the track. These new rules with the fines for oiling the track are a good thing, you can already see how much better we're all doing at giving the fans more racing to watch. And believe me, none of us want to have to pay those fines or lose any points. The new rules are good, I don't think there's any doubt about that. As for us, I think we'll be OK. We did just like Del and his guys, we set a baseline to tune from, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow to see what we can do. Fletch (Blue Team Crew Chief Dave Fletcher) and Del (Worsham), Chuck (Worsham,) and Mike (Smith) are comparing data and seeing how both cars can go faster, and that's exactly what we aim to do tomorrow and Sunday. I can't wait." No. 12 qualifier - 5.163ET/293.66MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Johnny Gray , Steve Schmidt , Rickie Smith , Cristen Powell