Pomona: Pontiac-GMC Racing Saturday notes

POMONA, Calif. (February 3, 2001)- Qualifying for the 41st annual AutoZone Winternationals concluded today at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock Truck, all three GMC Sonomas entered are qualified for tomorrow's race. Jeff Gracia in the Panella Racing...

POMONA, Calif. (February 3, 2001)- Qualifying for the 41st annual AutoZone Winternationals concluded today at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock Truck, all three GMC Sonomas entered are qualified for tomorrow's race. Jeff Gracia in the Panella Racing GMC Sonoma qualified No. 5 at 7.504ET/179.14MPH, Mike Corvo Jr. in the Jones Racing GMC Sonoma qualified No. 13 at 7.538ET/177.98MPH, and John Lingenfelter in the Summit Racing GMC Sonoma is No. 16 at 7.544ET/178.71MPH.

In Pro Stock, Bruce Allen in the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am held on as No. 1 qualifier with a 6.828ET (track record)/201.16MPH, followed closely by Warren Johnson in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am with a 6.836ET/201.91MPH.

In Funny Car, Frank Pedregon in the Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird jumped up to the No. 2 qualifying position with a pass of 4.875ET/308.28MPH. Jerry Toliver is No. 3 qualifier in the WWF/XFL Pontiac Firebird with a lap of 4.878ET/314.09MPH. Tony Bartone occupies the No. 16 starting position in the WWF Pontiac Firebird making the field with a run 5.013 seconds at 308.35 mph. This is the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history.

In Top Fuel, Mike Dunn moved the Gwynn/Steinbrenner/Yankee Dragster into the No. 2 qualifying position with a 4.599ET/315.27MPH. The No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta taking the top starting position with a run of 4.576 seconds at 318.09 mph.

The 41st annual AutoZone Winternationals on Feb. 1-4 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., is the first of 24 events in the NHRA's 50th anniversary season. Two hours of qualifying highlights of the Winternationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Feb. 3, starting at 9:30 p.m. Eastern. ESPN will televise one hour of final eliminations on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. Eastern, and ESPN2 will repeat eliminations coverage at 11 p.m. Eastern. Visit the Pontiac Racing Web site for complete NHRA and NASCAR Winston Cup Coverage.

PRO STOCK TRUCK

Mike Corvo Jr. (Jones Racing GMC Sonoma) - "We can't argue with being in the field. Rich is making the right calls, we're driving well. We changed engines between the third and fourth qualifying sessions and we ran the same in a slower session, so we feel comfortable going into tomorrow." No. 13 qualifier - 7.538ET/177.98MPH

John Lingenfelter (Summit Racing GMC Sonoma) - "We feel good about tomorrow. We made a real competitive run in that last session in the heat compared to the field, our flights are decent, and I think we see a couple little things we can tweak on help us get just a little bit more. We've been on a slow upswing and every round we've gained, so we feel pretty good. There's a lot of good trucks here - probably 24 of the 27 trucks could've qualified - so thankfully we got through qualifying and in the field." No. 16 qualifier - 7.544ET/178.71MPH

PRO STOCK

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am) - "Whenever we can run well and run with the front of the pack on all four runs, that's really encouraging. I think most of the credit should go to these new cars. These new Grand Ams are awesome racecars. We're kind of on the same page now with the smaller cars - they're the same size as an Avenger or a Cutlass and it's a great car. I just love it. I think as the track gets more runs on it the left lane gets more consistent for us and the right, even though it's still good, is a little loose in second and third gear. Our cars just like to be hooked up tight all the way and we can be more aggressive in the left lane. Every year you have an ongoing development program when you're doing your own engines and you're always looking for three or four horsepower at a time. Pretty soon, those three or four horsepower add up to 12, and we were just fortunate enough over the winter that some of the things we were working on are starting to pay off. The engine shop works very hard and managed to build a couple of new engines that ran real good or panned out with some of the ideas we had from last year. It's just constant work and targeting the right areas and I think that's what has helped us so far." No. 1 qualifier - 6.828ET/201.16MPH

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am) - "It's time to get serious. We've been testing in 60-degree weather, so we really didn't have any data on a hot track. With the warm weather today, we're able to get that out of the way much earlier in the season than usual. The car went right down the track on both runs today, although the e.t.'s weren't as quick as I wanted. We've got a combination we can work with." No. 2 qualifier - 6.836ET/201.91MPH

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "I feel real good about tomorrow if we drive okay. We got this Pontiac pretty well under control. There are two or three cars that if we all make it to the end it'll be interesting to say the least. We could've run a lot better yesterday, but we missed a little bit on both runs yesterday. We went out today and got a lot closer and we've got some power, so we'll see tomorrow." No. 3 qualifier - 6.858ET/200.80

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Grand Am) -- "It was hot out there today and the times were down slightly but those two passes I made were the best two of the weekend. If I had made either of today's laps on Thursday when it was cooler, we'd be No. 2 or 3 on the ladder. At least the Valspar Refinish Grand Am is in the top half because that means a lot at this track, especially when it's hot. Lane choice is huge here. If you look down the qualifying sheets it's pretty easy to see that most guys had their best laps in the left lane. I open against Robert Patrick. He's a good driver who is just one thousandth of a second behind me. But lane choice will help widen that gap just a little bit. I'm fired up to race. We've had a couple of months off and it's time to get in there and win some rounds. I want to start this season off strong. It's been great so far. We came here with a new car and we're in the top half of the field. Now all I need to do is go rounds tomorrow. I just want to win a couple and get myself in a position to win this race. I'd love to win but I'd be happy to leave here in the top 10. There's something about being in the top 10 that gives you so much confidence. Plus, you get that check from Winston every race. That's some strong motivation. I also like the recognition it gives our team and our sponsors. The top 10 is an elite club." No. 8 qualifier - 6.882ET/200.35MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "We feel good that we finally made a good run, but we feel kind of stupid for some of the things we've done so far this weekend. We've just made some bad decisions on the car so far. We went back to a good baseline, the car went right down the track, and it's got a lot left in it. We didn't want to go too far and overcompensate, but we feel real comfortable with where the car is. We're just going to have to wait and see what the track conditions give us tomorrow and try and make some calls." No. 7 qualifier - 6.874ET/200.62MPH

FUNNY CAR

Frank Pedregon (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "What a spectacular run that was, in the heat of the day. A lot of cars were out there spinning like mad because the track is hot and getting a little slick. We were pretty aggressive with the tune-up, and (crew chief) Dave Fletcher told me to be ready to protect the car if it started to spin down there. But the thing just held on tight and never was even in danger down there. I'm pretty excited to lower my career best again, but I'm more excited that we did it during a session where most of the other cars were slowing down. That's awesome! And to make a run like that here in Pomona in front of my family and friends and the folks from CSK and Havoline who are here, that makes it even more special. We'll give it our best shot and try and meet Del (Worsham) in the finals." No. 2 qualifier - 4.875ET(career best)/308.28MPH

Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, to start off with, it was tough to see out there. Then when the car got a little out of the groove to the left and it didn't want to come back, I pretty much had no choice but to lift. It's kind of disappointing because we've got a better car than the No. 9 spot shows. The first run today was better, but we had that goofy burst-panel thing. Then we were running pretty good here, but I just couldn't keep it in the middle and I wasn't going to have a battle with the wall. You pretty much always lose those. We'll be okay tomorrow. If we run like we should, we'll win some rounds." No. 9 qualifier - 4.957ET/306.95MPH

John Lawson (Lucas Pontiac Firebird) - "We're real happy about it. The car seems to have come around pretty good for everything being brand new, and to start out like this, we're real pleased. And the new Pontiac body is wicked - it's something else. We'll just have to step on it a little bit tomorrow and hope for the best." No. 13 qualifier-4.985ET/301.60MPH

Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "All in all we're pretty happy even though we ended up 10th. Lee (Beard) has only been here four or five weeks at this point. It's a brand new team and brand new everything. We've got some bugs to work out but I think we're doing outstanding. The car wants to run really well. Lee is very meticulous and creeping up on the tune up. We were on a good run tonight but we had a problem with the engine. Something went away in the fuel system, which was unexpected, but the performance on this Matco Pontiac Firebird is there. I feel really pleased with the effort that's being made, the results and the potential that we have." No. 10 qualifier - 4.967ET/302.01MPH

Tony Bartone (WWF Pontiac Firebird) - "The good news is that we're in. We'd like to be a little deeper in the show, but that's the cards we've been dealt, we'll battle it from there and hopefully we'll go some rounds tomorrow. That was the first full pass that we'd made here. We'd made a couple of other full passes in testing, but when the cars going straight and it's pulling hard, it's a fun ride. When they get out of the groove they're a little tough to handle and get back in the groove. We're striving to keep it in the center of the lane and tomorrow maybe we can go a couple of rounds if not all the way." No. 16 qualifier - 5.013ET/308.35MPH

TOP FUEL

Mike Dunn (Gwynn/Steinbrenner Yankee Dragster) - "We went out looking to run a 4.65. I was a little surprised to see a 4.59 on the boar, but we'll take it. All I wanted to do is get the car to the finish line without hurting any parts so that we could get some useful data. Overall, it was a good run considering how much we backed it (the car) down. If we can do that all day tomorrow, we have a good shot at winning. The left lane is better than the right, but for as hot as it is, it's still not too bad. It's not a low 4.5-second track, but if you hit your combination just right, you may be able to sneak in mid 4.5-second pass. Lane choice is going to be a huge factor. I don't anticipate that there will be any deep staging because guys won't want to be fooling around at the tree knowing that every hundredth of a second will count. Keeping lane choice is going to be critical because it looks like the weather is still going to be warm tomorrow Doug (Kalitta) and Larry (Dixon) look to have a pretty good handle on the track right now, so we'll have to be on-top of our game to get by those guys." No. 2 qualifier - 4.599ET/315.27MPH

-Jeff Romack

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Robert Patrick , Mike Dunn , Warren Johnson , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , John Lingenfelter , Bruce Allen , Mike Corvo Jr. , Jerry Toliver