PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 34th ANNUAL WINSTON FINALS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1998 POMONA, CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES (November 12, 1998) - After the first day of qualifying for the Winston Finals at Pomona Raceway, Warren Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier...
PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 34th ANNUAL WINSTON FINALS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1998 POMONA, CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES (November 12, 1998) - After the first day of qualifying for the Winston Finals at Pomona Raceway, Warren Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock setting both ends of the track record in his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird with a run of 6.891 seconds at 201.02 mph. There are currently 13 Firebirds qualified in the 16-car Pro Stock field. In Funny Car, Al Hofmann's GM Performance Parts Firebird jumped to the No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.976 seconds at 307.58 mph.
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) The track was pretty decent and the air was probably the best we're going to have all weekend. Characteristically, this track causes the door-slammer cars to move to the left off the starting line and we only need to make a suspension change to correct it. This car has been running extremely straight at all the race tracks this year, so we elected not to change it and lo and behold, it still did what it normally does here. It sort of scrubbed off a little bit of ET and maybe hurt the speed just a little. If we have the same conditions, both track and atmospheric, we should be able to improve on that run slightly - maybe a 6.87. I look for the atmospheric conditions today to be the best of the weekend with the exception of maybe Saturday morning.
We're concentrating on winning this race, but we did a lot of work prior to coming here on some new projects that we're working on for next year that aren't evident in the car right now. Hopefully, we can pick up the power just a little bit and work on the chassis a little more. Without a doubt, this GM Goodwrench Firebird is the best race car I've ever had, but there's always room for improvement. No. 1 qualifier - 6.891ET(track record) / 201.02MPH(track record)
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) The track was a lot better than what we gave it credit for. As the session went on, the track seemed to get better and better and by the time we ran, we didn't have enough clutch in the car. We slipped it pretty much through the first three gears. By the time we got to the eighth mile we had lost so much momentum that it didn't run well to the finish line. That session will give us a baseline, we'll step it up tomorrow, put a little more clutch in it, and see if the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird can run at least a low 6.90. I think a 6.96 or 6.95 is going to be the bump. It just depends on the session. Saturday morning the air and the track will be better. That will be the fastest session, but it would be nice to get in solid tomorrow so we can try something good on Saturday morning. No. 6 qualifier - 6.939ET / 198.06MPH
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) We lost all of our elapsed time right at the start. The car started shaking part-way through low gear and most of the way through second and it just killed our time. Down-track was great. In third, fourth and fifth gear we were fine. Everyone else got off to a real good start so we need to make the necessary adjustments now and get the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird in the field. We have as good a chance as anyone of getting in.
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) Not a bad way to start. I knew the conditions were good for a fast lap. It was just a question of whether or not the track would hold the cars. Obviously, it did. The bump is already 6.98 seconds. We shook the tires pretty good during the second and third gear changes. If we can eliminate that problem, the Pennzoil Firebird can go faster for sure. I'm certainly not going to hold anything back. No. 7 qualifier - 6.950ET / 199.24MPH (continued) Pontiac Notes & Quotes 2-2-2-2
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) We'd definitely like to finish the season off with a win. That would make up for some of the races in the year we felt we should have won. The main thing now is getting past the first round. It seems if we can do that then we kind of get on a roll. We click and things start going our way. Our focus is to get the Interstate Batteries Firebird in the show. It's hard to say what happened there, but a lot of cars were having problems. It was a combination of things but typically, this track gets better as the weekend goes on. We'll get it in the show tomorrow, get it consistent on Saturday and try and pick up where we left off in Houston. We're getting stronger as the season goes on, and either way you cut it, this has been a fantastic year. No. 14 qualifier
Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) Everyone else seemed to be smoking the tires out there. So I got on the radio to Jimbo (Ermalovich) and told him that we needed to move over completely out of the groove and that seemed to work. I still grabbed hold of the brake at the starting line and didn't let go of it for about 300 feet. It seemed to be smooth, but at about the same spot that Force smoked the tires, the wheels started to spin, I grabbed the brake, it dried up and I'm happy with it. We kind of expected these kind of conditions on the first day, especially until we get some rubber down and the track comes around some more. I think you'll see a lot of better numbers out here tomorrow. That will give us a good chance to look at what's going on and possibly run quicker. You never know. I'd like to run quicker than the 4.86 that we ran here in February. There's quite a bit left in the GM Performance Parts Firebird. We had the tune-up pretty soft early. It only ran 240 mph to the eighth, and it's been running 250 to 255 in that range. As long as we can get it stuck on the other end, it wouldn't surprise me to see it run in the 320s. Both Jimbo and myself feel there's more left in the car. That's the first chance we've had all year to work on the motor. All of our problems have been in trying to figure out the clutch and getting the car down the track. We finally have something we can race with. I just wish this was Saturday night instead of Thursday night. No. 1 qualifier - 4.976ET / 307.58MPH
Del Worsham (Checkers/Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) We've raced here more than any other track. Usually, we have a really good handle on the conditions here. But this is not the normal Pomona track and we're going to have to figure out the combination to get down through there just like everybody else. That session, we shook and blew the tires right off. The goal now is to figure this thing out so that we don't do the same thing tomorrow. No. 6 qualifier
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