Pontiac-GMC Friday notes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 16, 2000) - Qualifying for the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing got underway today at National Trail Raceway. The second round of time trials was cancelled because of rain. In Pro Stock...

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 16, 2000) - Qualifying for the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing got underway today at National Trail Raceway. The second round of time trials was cancelled because of rain. In Pro Stock Brad Jeter is the highest qualified Firebird in the No. 4 spot. The Dynagear Pontiac driver covered the quarter mile in 7.032 seconds at 196.19 mph. Jeg Coughlin Jr. is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 7.016 seconds at 196.19 mph. Rickie Smith is qualified second, Allen Johnson is third and Richie Stevens in the Valspar Refinish Firebird is qualified fifth. Warren Johnson is qualified sixth, Mike Thomas is seventh, Mark Pawuk is eighth, Tom Martino is ninth, Ron Krisher is 10th, George Marnell is 16th, Jim Yates is 18th, Jamie Yates is 35th and Bruce Allen is 37th.

In Funny Car, the No. 1 qualifier is Whit Bazemore in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.993 seconds at 297.55 mph. Scotty Cannon is second and Frank Pedregon is third in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird with an elapsed time of 5.032 seconds at 298.80 mph. Bruce Sarver is fourth in the emmola.com Firebird, Tim Wilkerson is fifth, Gary Densham is sixth and Del Worsham is seventh. Dale Creasy Jr. is 10th, Cristen Powell is 15th and Al Hofmann is 20th.

In Top Fuel the No. 1 qualifier is Gary Scelzi with an elapsed time of 4.651 seconds at 313.73 mph. Joe Amato is qualified second, Tony Schumacher is third, Bob Vandergriff is fourth and Rhonda Hartman-Smith is fifth. Cory McClenathan is qualified in the No. 14 spot.

Qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, June 18, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern and again at 5 p.m. Eastern.


Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "I can't complain about the run. Its better than the past few races in the first session. We have been working on this Dynagear Pontiac Firebird, and in Chicago we found a clutch coating that had come off so we sent it back and had it recoated. I was supposed to test on Tuesday but I got sick and was unable too. We came here and had a great first run. Also with the weather we wanted to come out and make a great run because of the threat of rain. We're very happy with where we are at right now, so we're going to try and tune it up and get this Dynagear Pontiac Firebird to the number one or two spot." No. 4 qualifier - 7.032ET/196.19MPH Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "I thought we might be a little higher up in the qualifying field but there are eight cars within three hundredths of a second. We made a fair run to start with, and we're pleased with the first run but we think we can go a little faster. I'm sure a lot of the other guys feel the same way but it was a good start for the weekend. The track was a little rough, we bounced around quite a bit, but considering how hot it is here and for the weather conditions the track is in pretty good shape. Being in front of my hometown puts a lot of pressure on me. I signed autographs most of the morning and it's great to see all of the fans here, but obviously we're focused on the race too. I try to spend my time accordingly and get some rest in the middle. It's great to see all the people come out, especially from Pontiac and Summit Racing. Hopefully we can go some rounds for them on Sunday but first off, obviously I have to get the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird qualified. The field is getting tougher and tougher with more cars showing up. There's approximately 37 or 38 cars here, so we're just going to do the best we can and hopefully we will be here on raceday, go some rounds and get back up there in point standings." No. 8 qualifier - 7.044ET/195.53MPH


Bruce Sarver (emoola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "The car was a little weak but a lot of cars didn't make it down through there. We had a consistent run, and it was nice and smooth. We've got something to work with. I can't wait until the next run. There is a lot left in the emoola.com Pontiac Firebird. It went through the motions and got down there, but there is a lot left in it. It's been a long time since I've been in the show after the first run so we are pretty excited. If it doesn't rain we may just have something to show tonight." No. 4 qualifier - 5.048ET/304.32MPH

Tim Wilkerson (Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird) - "We should have run a 4.97 or 4.98, that's what we were trying to do. We got down there and started spinning the tires. We are in serious need of a new body. We would have been number one with it. I'm starting to see the disadvantages of having the old stuff but that's ok, the Sioux City Kenworth Pontiac Firebird runs pretty good. We ordered some parts that will be here tomorrow and we're going to do everything we can do to make it better and try again tomorrow. The car started spinning the tires at three and a half seconds, and as soon as it did that it crossed fired between two holes and jacked the head. It didn't really hurt a lot except my pride but still you don't need to have any of those lessons. It was way fast early and should have run a 4.97. I think if I get a better run early maybe it will stick." No. 5 qualifier - 5.104ET/274.61MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (MAD Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "We expected just a little bit more, but we figured the Mad Magazine Firebird would run in the low 5.20's, so it was right there. The motor was great, but there is no air here and we didn't compensate enough for it. Something in the rear was vibrating real bad, and at first I thought it was the motor, but the motor kept running so I said 'lets keep going.' It got blurry because it was that bad of a vibration, but I could still see where I was going. It just wasn't something I had ever felt before. So we got the tires all balanced and we're going to tune it up, come back tomorrow and run better. I'm happy with the car because that is three runs in a row that we have made it down the track. Maybe we are on to something here because we've had a stroke of bad luck these past six months and it needs to go away. If hard work makes it go away then we have earned it - it's our turn to make something go right. What's ironic is that Columbus is the first race we didn't qualify at last season. To make a good run and get in this year would be like a total backwards season. We know the season this year as far as points goes is out of reach now, but who knows, as tight as everyone is running out here we could squeak up there into the 11th or 12th spot. If the car starts running like I know it can we can run with these guys. Last year we were one of the guys that everyone wanted to beat and now this year I wouldn't mind taking out one of the top guys. That would make me feel real good right now." No. 10 qualifier - 5.281ET/283.91MPH

Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California Pontiac Firebird) - "It wasn't a bad run at all. If the car wouldn't have started smoking the tires at half track then it would have probably run a 4.97 but all in all it was pretty clean. It's going to be that kind of race - it's going to be anyone's race with that heat out there. Its tough out there. The new bodies have an advantage on this particular type of racetrack and they didn't at the last two. We'll just have to do the best we can. We have a great crew and we'll make this NEC Firebird fast." No. 6 qualifier - 5.119ET/278.29MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "This is a tricky track, because it's always good early and a bit loose past half-way. But for some reason this track brings out the best in all the tuners. We set some incredible mark for quick field here last year. IT'S easy to smoke the tires here, you saw how many cars did that, so we went conservative to get it up and running. Once these Pontiac bodies are up and running, the aerodynamics give us an advantage. We were just a little too soft overall, just not quite aggressive enough. It will take a lot more than that. There's probably something a little messed up in our ignition system too, because the tune-ups for the red and blue cars aren't that different and they went 5.03 to our 5.14. We'll change our mags and coils and see if that makes a difference." No. 7 qualifier - 5.147ET/289.94MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That run right there was totally produced by Chuck Worsham and Dave Fletcher. We burned that body almost off the car in Chicago 11 days ago, and Chuck Worsham himself totally rebuilt it in three days. Everyone who saw it said it would never run again, but Chuck did it and it's darn near perfect. Without this 2000 Firebird, we wouldn't have the downforce that got us to the finish line. And Dave Fletcher just nailed the tune-up on the first shot. All I did was drive, those guys get all the credit. Amazing." No. 3 qualifier - 5.023ET/298.80MPH

Pro Stock Trucks

Qualifying for the Pro Stock Trucks got underway today for the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway. Qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, June 18, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern and again at 5 p.m. Eastern. The No. 1 qualifier is Bob Panella in an S-10 with an elapsed time of 7.610 seconds at 176.79 mph. Randy Daniels is second, Mike Coughlin is third, John Coughlin is fourth and Mark Whisnant is fifth. Rick Jones is qualified in the No. 7 spot with an elapsed time of 7.668 seconds at 175.64 mph. John Lingenfelter is 13th with a lap of 7.689 seconds at 175.11 mph and David Spitzer is in the No. 14 position with an elapsed time of 7.694 seconds a t175.07 mph.

Rick Jones (Country Motors Trailer Sales GMC Sonoma) - "The track is pretty awesome. It's the best Columbus has been since I've been coming here. The cloudy skies and no sun helps make the track awesome. The air is real bad at approximately 3500 feet which makes for a lack of horsepower and that makes it hard to get down the race track. But the track was better than we expected and that makes it tricky in the clutch and tuning. The Country Motors Trailer Sales GMC Sonoma did a good job, but we're trying to stay consistent and get down the race track every time. When you look at the field there are two or three 7.66s, and several 7.65s so there are about five or six trucks that are real close together. We're right where we usually need to be, and we're happy with that so we are just going to keep going. We are going to work on the clutch and tuning of the motor, try and pick up some speed and go from there."

David Spitzer (Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma) - "Looking at our first run it appears that there's a lot left in the Sunnen/Dynagear Sonoma. Just to get down the track and get a good baseline is a good way to start this weekend -- it looks promising. I think we can run a 7.66 or so because there's four or five hundredths left in it for sure. I feel pretty good about going into tonight's session and our ability to improve. We'll work mostly on clutch, I think there's a lot to find there and maybe in the gear ratio, that's what we're trying to decide now -- most of our improvement will be found in the bell housing. We'll see what we can do and take another stab at it. The truck went right down the racetrack. The surface seemed to be in pretty good shape - the starting line was a lot better than what we thought it would be so if the cloud cover stays I think we'll be okay."

John Lingenfelter (Summit Racing GMC Sonoma) - "We can do better than that. It doesn't look bad on paper, but we didn't have a very good leave. I'm anxious to see how our incremental times stack up and then we'll be able to see where we fit in. We need to get the Summit Racing Sonoma to launch better in low gear. The other thing is that we were the second truck out and that didn't help us any. The track seemed to be pretty good so we'll see what we can do to step it up tonight. We're running an engine that we haven't used in a race before -- it's not new because we've been beating on it, so we have a learning curve with it that will take us a little while to adjust to."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Randy Daniels , Mike Coughlin , John Lingenfelter , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Allen Johnson , Rickie Smith , Mark Whisnant , Chuck Worsham , Bob Vandergriff , Cristen Powell