Pomona Pontiac Racing Notes & Quotes - Saturday

PONTIAC FIREBIRD RACING 40th Annual AutoZone Winternationals Pomona Raceway February 5, 2000 Pomona, Calif. (February 5, 2000) - Qualifying was completed today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates and the...

PONTIAC FIREBIRD RACING 40th Annual AutoZone Winternationals Pomona Raceway February 5, 2000

Pomona, Calif. (February 5, 2000) - Qualifying was completed today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Jim Yates and the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird held onto the No 1. Qualifying position with an event-record elapsed time of 6.878 seconds at 199.58 mph. Tom Martino's Century 21 Firebird is third, Bruce Allen is fifth, Steve Schmidt's Dynagear Firebird moves up to sixth, Mark Pawuk is seventh, Warren Johnson is 12th, Richie Stevens is 13th and George Marnell is 16th.

In Funny Car, Bruce Sarver had the best qualifying effort from the Firebird battalion this weekend with an elapsed time of 4.963 seconds at 290.01 mph. Phil Burkhart is qualified 10th, Gary Densham is 11th, Del Worsham is 12th, Al Hofmann is 13th and Frank Pedregon is 16th. Cristen Powell was 18th, Cruz Pedregon was 19th and Dale Creasy Jr. was 21st. The No. 1 qualifier was John Force in a Mustang with an elapsed time of 4.893 seconds at 310.55 mph. Jerry Toliver is qualified second, Dean Skuza is third and Jim Epler is fifth.

In Top Fuel, Team Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is qualified in the No .10 position with an elapsed time of 4.742 seconds at 307.09 mph. Joe Amato is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.645 seconds at 318.47 mph. Gary Scelzi is qualified second, Larry Dixon is third, Tony Schumacher is fourth and Doug Kalitta is fifth.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We put the Goodyears on the car for the last run, and the clutch never even thought about locking up. I think we'll go back to the Hoosiers for race day, since we ran our best e.t. with that combination. We may have some kind of electrical gremlin as well because the car won't accelerate - it simply feels lazy. Starting from the 12th spot we won't have lane choice in the first round, but the lanes have been fairly even so far. The right side is definitely not the lane choice because it seems a little rougher down track, but there's probably only a hundredth of a second difference between the two lanes." No. 12 qualifier - 6.938ET/198.17MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "After "banking" the 6.88 yesterday, we used today's sessions to work on our CENTURY 21Ò Firebird's race set-up. We may not have made it any better, but we learned a lot about adjusting our car to the conditions and this Pomona track. The last run today was pretty good. We changed the four-link around a little and the car really didn't like it. It was a little stronger down track, but just made it too slow at the starting line. I think if we would have left it alone and just made our normal car changes, it probably would have run an '89 or '90. For tomorrow, we'll put it back the way it was and try to improve our top end performance a different way. What's important is that we've taken the first step - we qualified in the top half of the field. Tomorrow, we move on to the next challenge - going rounds." No. 3 qualifier - 6.886ET/200.14MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) -- "This track seems to have deteriorated as we've gone through the weekend. You'll notice the e.t.'s in Pro Stock are not what they were yesterday, but the air is as good today as it's been for the last three days. This morning was probably one of the best sessions we'll see from now until Sunday. With the sun on the track tomorrow, it's going to get hotter and a lot slicker. It's going to take a lot of work adapting to that. We may be at a little bit of a disadvantage in that we haven't run this particular car yet on a lot of slick tracks. We're going to have to come out first round, try and get a handle on it and move in that direction. The conditions will continue to change all day tomorrow and if we can get a little cloud cover, it will be to the advantage of the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. Even though it's a brand new car, it's a really, really fast car, but we don't have that much experience with it. I'm happy with the numbers we've posted so far, but I figure with the car being able to run as fast as it has on its maiden voyage that it has even more potential. That's the good news. The bad news is that we have to figure out how to adapt it tomorrow. Give us one round to get close and we'll move to where we need to be from there. We're on top of the world right now. We've worked hard all winter, but every team has worked hard all winter. The problem is that we're working in the dark. In the wintertime, you're at home, you're thrashing, you're working on the dyno, you're testing your car, but you don't know what the other teams have in their cars. You don't know what tracks will like be under national-event conditions, you don't know if your new car is good or bad, but you're still working as hard as you can to be the very best. You come here to Pomona, you line them up in the staging lanes and you're hoping you're going to qualify. You know you have a lot of power, you know you've been the fastest car at a couple of test sessions, but you hope that you've done everything you can to be No. 1, let alone being in the top 16. When you qualify No. 2 right out of the trailer, and then No. 1 on your second lap, it doesn't get any better than that. It's absolutely like being in heaven and that's when you realize that all the work has been worth it. Bob Ingles has worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day since Christmas on our engine program. But until you let the clutch out you still don't know if it's been enough. We've put together a great team with Rickie Smith as crew chief, three brand new crew members and this new Don Ness chassis, so we have a lot of things going on. To have it gel in Pomona like it has is a tremendous adrenaline high." No. 1 qualifier - 6.878ET(event record)/199.58MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We're trying to make some decisions on what we're going to do with this last qualifying session, but we're staying on top of things pretty good right now, making minor adjustments with the tires that we'll go out and improve on. The Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird sits comfortably in the show right now, we just have to stay on top of the conditions. This last qualifying round could be the best session of the weekend so we can try and put a race day setup on the car if we can make another consistent good run. This Pontiac has been real consistent with numbers so we just need to keep doing that." No. 5 qualifier - 6.896ET/199.23MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We thought we'd run a little better this weekend, but we're in the top-ten going into race day, so we have to be pleased with that. We've made some pretty good runs with the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird, we've just been a little crooked at times. I think we're going to run good tomorrow. We're going to tune the clutch up tonight and get the car to go faster down the race track." No. 7 qualifier - 6.907ET/199.08MPH

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We're going over in the non-preferred lane for this last qualifying run, so we just want to maintain our performance with the rest of the field. We made a good pass this morning, but I think the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird still has a little left. We just want to try and get in the grove early in the year, make good, consistent runs and do a good job on Sunday."

(Following final qualifying run) "We gave away the first two runs, so the last pass was the only one that we were able to get any good data. Terry Adams, my crew chief, tweaked on the chassis and made a clutch adjustment and I tuned on the engine a little bit. Both the car and engine ran better this last run. We were the second quickest car in the last qualifying session, so anytime you can do that, you have to be happy. It's been a long time since we've been real competitive, so I'm looking forward to Sunday." No. 6 qualifier - 6.906ET/198.50MPH

George Marnell (Marnell Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "The one thing I'm most happy about is that our Firebird improved right on down the line this weekend. We started off and found some problems, but we'd only had ten hits on the car over the winter, since we didn't get to test as much as we wanted to. That last time out in the fourth run, the track had gone away and we were spinning the tire from fourth gear on to the end of the racetrack. In Pro Stock racing, it's so close that it doesn't bother me to be in sixteenth, because anyone has a shot at it. Whoever does a better job tomorrow will walk out a winner, and hopefully it will be me." No. 16 qualifier - 6.948ET/197.65MPH

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - ""Well we're in the show and that's always the first goal of any race weekend. To be honest, I was hoping to be running a little quicker with these new Warren Johnson powerplants. But we just haven't got the car dialed in to handle the power yet. The Valspar Refinish Firebird continues to get better every round and that's very encouraging. It sort of seemed like we were in the wrong lane every time up there. When the right side looked fast, we were on the left side and vice versa. That's just racing luck. "It's great that the Valspar Refinish car will be battling tomorrow. We've got a couple of hundred Valspar people from the West Coast joining us and I hope to put on a good show for them. It'll be exciting for me to have a bunch of fans up there in the stands. I'll definitely have to be on my game right from the start. Both of those Jegs cars have been running strong this weekend and Troy is a great driver who usually doesn't make any mistakes. Maybe I'll get some racing luck to come my way." No. 13 qualifier - 6.938ET/197.91MPH

FUNNY CAR

Al Hoffman ( Pontiac Firebird) - "Our last run wasn't very quick but we were happy because we stood up to the fight. At least now when we tell the Pontiac Firebird what to do, it does it. We were kind of lost there the first two or three runs, but we'll get it figured out. The computer didn't work on that last run, so we'll have to guess on it tomorrow. We know what we have to do, so we'll pop it up some. If the other car goofs up tomorrow we'll beat him, if he doesn't, he'll beat us." No. 13 qualifier - 5.128ET/288.58MPH

Dale Creasy, Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm fine, the only thing hurt is my feelings. It was the last run and I had to make it get there, and well, we shouldn't have drove it the whole way. The Mad Magazine Firebird was running OK, but then again I didn't know that it wasn't running as well as I thought it was. When I got right to the lights, I reached for the parachutes and it just blew up. The car isn't really as bad as it looks, all it did was push a head gasket out. This certainly wasn't something we needed at the beginning of the season, but the way I have it figured out, if we get all the bad luck out of the way now, we'll be in good shape for the rest of the year." No. 21 qualifier - 5.401ET/267.53MPH

Gary Densham (Pontiac Firebird) - "We're real pleased with our final qualifying run. The track has been real tricky for everyone, and we were lucky enough to get three out of four good runs. All that does it build your confidence, and we feel we can go out there and race with anybody and give them a good fight. We would have liked to qualifier the Pontiac Firebird a little better, but we're all pleased with where we're at for Sunday. I think as far as being prepared, we're about as prepared as anyone out here. As far as tomorrow, we'd like to see some consistency and get it down in the high 4.90's and if we can do that, I think we'll be really happy." No. 11 qualifier - 5.093ET/300.73MPH

Cruz Pedregon (CruzMissile Pontiac Firebird) - "We fully expected to qualify this weekend, but unfortunately it didn't happen. It wasn't just one thing that went wrong, and at this point we're just trying to get it all figured out. Obviously this was the year that you needed to test, with the new 90% fuel rule, so we were in pretty unfamiliar territory, because of the little testing we were able to do. Really, we did as well as we could have for what our current budget allowed. The car hasn't made it to the finish line yet, which is very frustrating for me, but I've been around for a long time so I know you just have to work through these things. Really what it boils down to is budget, so hopefully we can get everything worked out for Phoenix and more importantly the rest of the year."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Not a lot of things in this sport really surprise me anymore, but that last attempt we made sure did. We shook pretty hard in the first session today, so we went back to the pit and loaded it up pretty hard, figuring we'd either smoke the tires or really put a number up. What I didn't think we'd do is shake again, but it went out there, and rattled, and rumbled all over the place and I just had to lift. I'll cut us a little slack and admit that the conditions were changing by the minute out there, and when there were a couple of long clean-ups before we ran, it pushed us from afternoon into evening and we weren't really set up for that. But I really thought we had put more than enough into it. Overall, I'm grateful we're racing tomorrow, but we all know we're not out here to qualify 12th. I was really happy to see our new teammates Frankie Pedregon, Crew Chief Dave Fletcher, and their new team get in the show in their first race ever, but I expected more for my car. I'll say this, we plan on running hard tomorrow. We're on the same side of the ladder, so maybe the two Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebirds can meet up in the Semi-Finals." No. 12 qualifier - 5.098ET/295.21MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - ""Well, it's my instinct and my nature to not be thrilled with qualifying 16th, but I also know what we accomplished and I'm not going to let this moment pass without congratulating my team. This wasn't just our first race of the season, or our first race with a new car, our even our first race with a few new guys on the crew. This was our first race! PERIOD. We've only put about nine laps on this car total, between testing and qualifying here, and we're still getting to know each other so to be in the field for the Winternationals is a pretty big accomplishment. There are some very good teams, with fast cars and lots of experience, who didn't do that and won't get to race tomorrow. The list of cars that didn't make it illustrates that it's just not an easy deal to qualify at one of these races, so I know we've got a lot to be proud of. Yes, we needed a little luck, but on the flip-side, we put the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird in position to capitalize on that luck by outrunning all those other cars over the course of four sessions, so I'm very happy with what we've done. There's so much potential here, I feel proud to be a part of this team." No. 16 qualifier - 5.163ET/293.66MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt , Rickie Smith , Jerry Toliver