35th ANNUAL AAA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS POMONA RACEWAY POMONA, CALIFORNIA POMONA, Calif. (November 11, 1999) - Professional qualifying began today for the 35th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Warren...
35th ANNUAL AAA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS POMONA RACEWAY POMONA, CALIFORNIA
POMONA, Calif. (November 11, 1999) - Professional qualifying began today for the 35th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 1 position. His GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird covered the quarter mile in 6.908 seconds at 201.07 mph (track record). Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird is qualified second, Richie Stevens is third in a Firebird, Bruce Allen is fourth in a Firebird and Troy Coughlin is fifth in an Oldsmobile. Jim Yates is qualified sixth in a Firebird, Tom Martino is eighth, Steve Schmidt is 21st, George Marnell is 22nd and Mike Thomas is 26th.
In Funny Car, Jim Epler is the lowest qualified Firebird in the No. 3 position with an elapsed time of 4.990 seconds at 308.07 mph. Dale Creasy Jr., is qualified fourth in the Mad Magazine Firebird with an elapsed time of 5.071 seconds at 300.13 mph. Del Worsham is qualified sixth, Al Hofmann is seventh, Cruz Pedregon is 12th, Tim Wilkerson is 13th, Tommy Johnson Jr., is 22nd and Frank Pedregon is 23rd. The No. 1 qualifier is Ron Capps in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.868 seconds at 309.34 mph. Tony Pedregon is qualified second in a Mustang and Dean Skuza is fifth in an Avenger.
In Top Fuel, MBNA/Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is qualified fifth with an elapsed time of 4.669 seconds at 315.56 mph. The No. 1 qualifier is Joe Amato who covered the quarter mile in 4.610 seconds at 316.90 mph. Gary Scelzi is qualified second, Kenny Bernstein is third and Doug Kalitta is fourth.
First-round television coverage of the NHRA Finals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, November 14, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern. Final-round coverage can be seen beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "The run corrected to 205.49 mph at sea level, which is our fastest speed ever. The e.t. corrected to 6.75, which is pretty good as well. The conditions were good for us. It's dry out there, which produces a lot of speed in a Pro Stock car. The cars have a tendency to go left at this track. We though we'd compensate for that, but apparently I didn't make a big enough adjustment. It didn't scrub off much e.t. - a hundredth of a second at most. We also made some substantial chassis changes since the previous race in order to make it more compatible with all the race tracks. I found one subtle difference that everyone has overlooked. We couldn't complete the whole project, but the car was definitely smoother than it's ever been on this track." No. 1 qualifier - 6.908ET/201.07MPH
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "We're really excited after the first session. That run was probably one of the straightest runs the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird has made since we've had it. We stayed in Houston for two extra days, tested and we figured some things out with the chassis. We were a little bit heavy on the clutch, and as such, the car was aggressive in the middle of the track. But still, it went straight down through there. I think that right lane may be a hundredth or two slower than the left lane so we're really excited. It gives us a good place to start. We'll go after it tomorrow and try to tune it up a little bit. We have some work to do on the engine, we'll match that with the clutch and see if we can't slip on down that left lane. When I put the car in third gear and it was going straight without shaking the tires, I was really excited. We haven't done that much this year, especially right off the trailer. We just need to sneak up on it a little bit at a time; we're not going to get carried away or do anything drastic. We'll just try and tune it up a little bit with each run and hopefully by Saturday we'll have it running faster. We'll need to pick up a couple or three hundredths to stay in the top half of the field, but I'm confident that we can do that. When we get in that left lane and the track comes around tomorrow, you should see us doing just that." No. 6 qualifier - 6.959ET/198.03MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "The Summit Racing Firebird felt soft in first and second gear - the car just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. I didn't think it was on that good of a run, but this track has a tendency to be rough on the top end. When I got towards the finish line, I was running Troy (Coughlin) and we were right next to each other. The car was really smooth but I was surprised that it ran as quick as it did because it didn't feel like it accelerated that well in first and second gear. The sheets don't indicate that anyway. We'll try to improve on the first part of the racetrack. We can't run 201 like Warren (Johnson) but it's nice to get a good baseline run right out of the box. We've struggled the last few races and now it looks like we're beginning to get our combination back. We really haven't touched the engine much, but there are a lot of fast cars that didn't make good runs today so we'll just try to improve. I'd like to think there's another hundredth in it. We'll keep working on it, get ready for race day and try and go some rounds on Sunday. I like racing here. I've been runner up here before and I've had some ups and downs, but this a great place to start and end the year and I'd like to think that Pomona will be good to us this weekend." No. 2 qualifier - 6.924ET/198.70MPH
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) "The bottom line is that our Century 21 Firebird spun way too much in low gear, and it was spinning the tires so hard that it continued through second. From third gear on it was a pretty nice run. We were a little heavy on the clutch, but it ran 199.11 (mph) so it couldn't have been too bad. Pomona Raceway is notorious for the left lane being faster than the right. Running in the right, we ended up number eight. If we had made that same run in the left lane, we probably would have been fifth. We're in the left tomorrow, hopefully we can pick the run up a bit, and move closer to the top. I'd like to run 200 tomorrow. Even so, it's pretty good when you look over the run and see a couple of things you've done wrong, and you still ran pretty well. If we just make a couple of adjustments, we'll do well. No. 8 qualifier - 6.960ET/199.11MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) "It's always encouraging when you make a good run to get started, where you get down the track and come close to hitting it straight on. Like everybody, there was probably a little luck I'm sure, but that was a pretty good opening run and the next thing we need to do is keep up with the conditions. Tomorrow afternoon will be pretty much like today, but Saturday morning will be really good and hopefully we can improve with the rest of the field. To stay in the top-half of the field it will take at least a 6.90 or 6.89. We keep making progress with the Outlaw Fuel Additives Firebird. This is a racetrack that doesn't get run on very much so with each session it will continue to get better especially after the fuel cars have a chance to put some more rubber down. The run felt good but it was a little soft. But we're trying to start there instead of being on the aggressive side so we're happy with that." No. 4 qualifier - 6.937ET/198.79MPH
Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) When I got out of the car at the other end of the track I was really surprised when they told me my time. The Valspar Pontiac Firebird felt really soft on the clutch set-up and I just thought it was a slower lap than it was. We'll sure take it. If that was our slowest lap of the weekend, like the first one usually is, we'll be in real good shape. There is definitely more in the car. First of all I staged deep. Plus, like I said, it seemed like we were light on the clutch. I'm sure Tommy (Utt) will go over the computer data and figure out how to make us go quicker." No. 3 qualifier - 6.928ET/198.00MPH
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "It went left as soon as I dumped the clutch. Plus the engine was popping for some reason. The only good thing about that lap was the light I cut (a .450-second reaction time.) That was nice to see because I've really been working on that part of my driving. I'm glad all this happened in the first session because we have plenty of time to correct the problems and run quick in the other rounds. We'll be fine."
Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "We know that the track is marginal on Thursdays here. It's green with no one running on it. So I set my fuel up like we always do for the first qualifying run which is weak - weaker than we normally run it. I brought a quart of alcohol with me which drops the fuel one percent. We were sitting up there watching everybody and I didn't have a good judge on the track conditions because a lot of the cars this weekend don't run at every race. So their reaction the first time on the racetrack isn't a good assessment of the conditions. I looked at my Dad, we both nodded our heads, he dumped that alcohol in and that Mad Magazine Firebird went right down Broadway. It got out a little ways and gave me a shudder, but it seems like it always wants to do that. I think it's just me getting adjusted to the speed of the car. The windshield cleared up at halftrack like someone had wiped it off. When I crossed the finish line I knew it was a good run. We're done now until Sunday. We may run it one more time on Saturday morning, but we just don't have the parts, so we'll save them for race day." No. 4 qualifier - 5.071ET/300.13MPH
Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We were off a percent in the motor. We thought we had 97 percent in it and it only had 96 percent so it was a weak dog out there. It shook, I pedaled it and got it to the finish line. But we'll take it. Jim Dunn's helped us to get this Firebird back on track, and since I only have a few more runs in it, I want to make the most of it. I hoping to take it to the end on every run. Tomorrow we should improve if I can keep my foot down. The engine looks safe so I can afford to make a few adjustments to it and step it up. If it goes to the end I'm looking for some good numbers out of this Pontiac. We'll try and run five-flat. It's making good power when it's right but that time there just wasn't enough punch. We'll need some 4.80s if we're going to win here on Sunday, but I think this car has that potential. It's going to take a few runs to get it there, but we have one more tomorrow and two more on Saturday to get us there. I think we'll be okay. I'm going to be calling all of the shots on this thing so we'll see what happens." No. 7 qualifier - 5.251ET/288.27MPH
Cruz Pedregon (goracing.com Pontiac Firebird) "Our goal is to qualify in the top half of the field solidly and be competitive on race day. Whatever we have to do to win the race is what we'll be doing. We have three more runs to figure this Firebird out and get it dialed in. Things we're slightly out of sync on the first run. We broke a crankshaft. It's tough working with a part-time team, but everything is looking great, we just missed the setup on the car. We'll come back tomorrow, make a good run and get this car in the field. We came here with a lot of equipment, everything new and lots of it. We want to set the stage here for next year and hopefully we can do our thing and put it all together." No. 12 qualifier - 6.844ET/130.33MPH
Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "That's not at all what we were after, the goal there was to run a 5.0-something or a 4.9-something. But, at around 900 feet it made a hard move toward the center line, I pulled back from that and then it started to spin the tires and it threw the blower belt off, kind of all at once. I'll tell you what happened, we had to switch to our older chassis here, the Victory car we started the season with. When we blew our motor in half in Houston it bent the Paralax car, so we made the switch and had it all ready to go. Then, at the starting line, the body latch decided it didn't want to fit right, and the guys had to do some scrambling to get the body latched. The blower belt came off because at speed the body presses down enough that it rubbed the belt until it broke. We'll make a few adjustments to those problems and they'll go away. Our tune-up is rock solid. That was a good 5.0 run there until the belt came off. We'll just fix what's wrong and go right back out there tomorrow and the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird should run just fine." No. 6 qualifier - 5.220ET/252.14MPH