Pomona: Pontiac Racing Saturday notes

POMONA, Calif. (November 11, 2000)- Qualifying was completed today for the 36th annual AAA Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway with rain washing out the fourth and final session. In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin Jr. held onto to the...

POMONA, Calif. (November 11, 2000)- Qualifying was completed today for the 36th annual AAA Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway with rain washing out the fourth and final session.

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin Jr. held onto to the No. 1 qualifying position but improved to a 6.878 second run at 199.67 mph. Bruce Allen jumped up to the No. 2 position in the Reher-Morrison Firebird when he clocked in at 6.884 seconds at 199.05 mph. Richie Stevens' performance numbers also improved with a 6.884 second elapsed time at 199.02. That put the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird in the No. 3 position. Jim Yates moved up to fourth (6.893ET/198.00MPH), Mark Pawuk is fifth (6.895ET/200.62MPH), Ron Krisher is eighth (6.904ET/199.61MPH), Brad Jeter is 12th (6.913ET/199.08MPH) and Warren Johnson is 13th (6.914ET/200.38MPH).

In Funny Car, John Force took the No. 1 qualifying position in a Mustang with an elapsed time of 4.908 seconds at 291.63 mph. Dean Skuza is qualified second, Del Worsham improved to third in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird with a run of 4.929 seconds at 306.53 mph. Tony Pedregon is qualified fourth, Ron Caps is fifth and Bruce Sarver is sixth. Frank Pedregon will start Sunday eliminations in the ninth position, Jerry Toliver is 11th, Al Hofmann is 14th and John Lawson is 15th. Cruz Pedregon was 17th, Dale Creasy Jr. 20th, Tim Wilkerson 26th, Gary Densham 27th and Johnny Gray 28th.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan's streak of qualifying in 179 consecutive races came to an end today when the final session of time trials was cancelled. McClenathan ran 4.884 seconds at 308.50 mph and that put him 18th, outside the 16-car field. Mike Dunn is the No. 1 qualifier in the Gwynn/Steinbrenner/Yankee dragster with last night's pass of 4.522 seconds at 325.69 mph. Tony Schumacher is qualified second, Doug Kalitta is third, Melanie Troxel is fourth and Gary Scelzi is fifth.

The 36th annual Southern California Auto Club NHRA Finals on November 9 - 12 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., is the 23rd race on the 23-event NHRA Winston Championship schedule. NHRA Heat can be seen on ESPN2 on Thursday, November 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Qualifying highlights of the NHRA Finals, including coverage of the Big Bud Shootout for Top Fuel dragsters, can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, November 12, starting at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Same-day coverage of final eliminations begins on ESPN2 on Sunday, November 12, at 6 p.m. Eastern and again at 10 p.m. Eastern. Visit the Pontiac Racing Web site for complete NHRA and NASCAR Winston Cup Coverage.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Pontiac Firebird) - "The track was a lot better than we anticipated and we were a little too light on the clutch. Once the car got underway, the run was fine. The track improved with every qualifying session, but it won't do that on race day. Anybody who had it loaded up today to qualify will be out of here in the first round tomorrow." No. 13 qualifier - 6.914ET/200.38MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We didn't make a real good run to the eighth-mile, but this Summit Racing Firebird has always run good speed and I'm just happy that we could turn the 6.89. After what we've been through this week with the crash last weekend in Dallas, we really want to finish the year on a high note. We feel this car has a lot left in it because we didn't make that good of run. It's just a bummer that we had that happen with one race left to go. That car's kind of been our baby for a long time and we really had it running good and working well. I'm a little uncomfortable in this car - I sit different in it and I'm not as comfortable driving it but I'm feeling a lot better in it the more runs we make. I'm just happy that we could turn some of the pressure off this morning and make a halfway decent run so that we could work on tuning it up for raceday. This class is so competitive that if someone makes a decent run and you have a good racetrack, anyone can make it into the show. It's been fierce this year and I'm just glad I'm one of the cars within that four hundredths of a second bump." No. 5 qualifier - 6.895ET/200.62MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We ran as good as we could run. I was confident that we could run better than what we had, but I didn't think the Reher-Morrison Firebird would run that fast. The track was considerably better than it has been the last two sessions but the 6.88 even surprised me. I was sitting in the car hoping I had run at least a 6.91 or so and get in. But it's so tight with the bump at 6.91, and the low at 6.87 that this is one narrow field. We were lucky. We made a really nice run and got the most of what was out there. I've talked about it before, but we're not the fastest car out here and we don't try to be. We're trying to run as good as we can and that's exactly what we did. We made some conservative decisions this morning and instead of going crazy we made the best run we could without being too aggressive. It turned out that it was just about perfect, and I'm happy but we're fortunate to be where we are. It amazes me that you can take all of these different cars, all of these different engines, all of these different combinations of parts and the field runs this close together. Now these cars are fast enough and have enough power that if you miss it just a little bit on your setup, you can't run good enough to get in - there are plenty of teams good enough to go right around you. When the conditions get like they are now, this is as competitive as it gets in Pro Stock. Not just the first four or five cars but the first 25 cars. Running these kind of numbers out here is pretty remarkable." No. 2 qualifier - 6.884ET/199.05MPH

Richie Stevens Jr. (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - ""If I could ever get this car to go straight down the lane we'd be No. 1. There is still more left in this Valspar Pontiac but for some reason it seems to want to go left when I launch. I don't know what it is and we probably won't chase after it too much because everything else is perfect. We're in a real nice place right now. Every qualifying lap has been good and every one has been better than the one before. We're firmly in the top half of the field and we have lane choice going into eliminations. That's not bad at all. It's nice to win any race. But to win this one would be something special. The races in Pomona always seem to have an extra little something about them. I think it's because this is where drag racing started. There is so much history at this track and in this area of the country. We would also love to go into the off-season with a win to get us ready for this busy winter break. We'll be switching to a totally new car design, just like everyone else, and I'm sure it's going to feel a lot like starting over from scratch to a certain extent. This is the last party for this old Firebird so we have to send her off with a win." No. 3 qualifier - 6.884ET/199.02MPH

FUNNY CAR

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com/Hot Wheels Pontiac Firebird) - "We have a decent car to halftrack and we ran okay on the one lap at five-flat. We had it tuned up here to try and throw a number up on the board. Alan (Johnson) and Richard (Hogan) have a gameplan for tomorrow and I'll just have to do my job. We'd like to go out and run a mid-4.90 and do that all day. We'll see. We just wish we could've put another lap under our belt to get more data on this e-moola.com Firebird. We're ready to go. I wanted to stay No. 3 because we have a tight points race for eighth, ninth and tenth place. Every point counts at this last race. We were on a good run in the first session today, almost like the run we made last night. We got real aggressive at halftrack to get it to run out the back - that's where we lacked performance before. We did that on purpose. We sped everything up to try and run over 300 and we spun the tires." No. 6 qualifier - "5.008ET/294.88MPH

John Lawson (Lucas Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "It feels pretty good knowing that we're going to be racing tomorrow. We like that, especially when you make the long drive out here it makes it more rewarding when you make it worth the trip. The teams been working real hard to get this Lucas Oil Firebird ready and now the hard work is starting to pay off. With the kind of sponsors we have behind us we have a pretty good opportunity to win some rounds tomorrow. Just being here and making this field, with all of the cars that came out for this race, is pretty gratifying. The car's starting to come around and we found some stuff that we'd been fighting all weekend - something we didn't know about until we made our qualifying runs. Today we ran a 5.17 and started smoking the tires at about 600 feet so we were probably looking at a low 5.0 at the least. If we can run that on raceday, those are the kind of numbers that'll keep him honest. We'll just have to wait and see what happens but things are looking better." No. 15 qualifier - 5.176ET/284.69MPH

Jim Dunn (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We'll be ready tomorrow. We blew a blower and broke a cam out there today. It was running decent - probably a 5.08 or better. Tomorrow's a new game. We'll put a new motor in, change the compression and we'll get after Worsham. If we would've been bumped we would've run tonight. If not, we would've sat it out. There are maybe two guys who can get down the track when it's this late, even when it's not raining. When it gets cold here it gets dicey. This afternoon was the best it's been all week and we still didn't have a lot of cars making good runs. When you're right this track's good. If you have everything on the clutch just right, it's good. But if you're off by just a little bit and have too much power, you'll smoke the tires." No. 14 qualifier - 5.163ET/239.14MPH

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) - "We qualified at 179 races in a row and that was pretty cool. I knew that the streak was going to end sometime but I didn't think it would happen during my last race with Joe Gibbs Racing. We had a new car that had run well during the last couple of races and there's no reason why we shouldn't have run in the 4.50s but everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. It's going to break my heart tomorrow watching these guys run without me."

On Next Season: "I needed to put myself in a position where if I bought everything then I could assume some things if I go to a certain team. That's where we are with that right now. Brad (Anderson) came along and we had talked and he was the most honest and I trusted him to put me in a position where, hey, if I need to buy the car, or what have you, then we could work something out. Other people weren't willing to do that, so I had to do what was right and this was right for me. Just before we go any farther, we all know one thing: if I could have afforded it I would be out here running next year owning the whole deal. We all know it costs a lot money to do this, and with four races left, finding out that I don't have a job next year, it's hard to chase money when all these corporate sponsors are already committed."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Richie Stevens Jr. , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Melanie Troxel , Johnny Gray , Jerry Toliver
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing