Pontiac Notes From Pomona -- Saturday

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 39th ANNUAL AUTOZONE WINTERNATIONALS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1999 POMONA, CALIFORNIA POMONA, Calif. (February 6, 1999) Qualifying was completed today for the 39th Annual AutoZone Winternationals. Warren Johnson, driver of...


POMONA, Calif. (February 6, 1999) Qualifying was completed today for the 39th Annual AutoZone Winternationals. Warren Johnson, driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird took the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock setting both ends of the track record with a run of 6.888 seconds at 200.95 mph. It was the 103rd time in his career that the "Professor of Pro Stock" had qualified in the top spot and the fifth time that Johnson has been No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals (1993-96, 1999).

In Funny Car, Del Worsham is the highest qualified Firebird in the No. 4 position. His Checkers Schucks Kragen Pontiac had a pass of 4.968 seconds at 305.15MPH.

After qualifying in the No. 3 position with a run last night of 4.631 seconds at 307.09 mph in his MBNA/Pontiac Top Fuel dragster, Cory McClenathan did not attempt to improve his position today after he was rushed to a local hospital after suffering from a minor gastro-intestinal and dehyrdration condition. He was released this afternoon and was resting in preparation for tomorrow's eliminations. He will start from the No. 8 position.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "Well at least we'll get to run on race day! An alcohol car oiled down the left lane before we made our final qualifying run, and negotiating that lane was a problem for the Pro Stock Trucks and the Pro Stock cars in that session. That's not what we wanted to run on, but sometimes you don't have a choice. We're just going to have to look at the data on what the competition ran in that final session and base our tuning decisions on how we stack up against their performances. We made some changes for that run, and we'll have to assess where we are relative to everyone else. We didn't change the engine, we just changed some drivetrain parts to see what the effect would be." No. 1 qualifier - 6.888ET/200.95MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "So far we're struggling just to find a combination that will get this Splitfire/Peak Firebird down the race track. The car was bouncing quite a bit and we've been working on the chassis trying to keep it down. But obviously we haven't figured it out well enough yet. We just can't the get the car to transition from 60 to 330. We're losing all of our time there. It's not running bad speed or bad down the back, we just can't get it from the 60 foot mark to the eighth mile. We're going to work on that just a little bit and go back to a combination that we ran here last year to see if that will help us. We had too much clutch tonight. We expected the track to get a lot better but with the cool air, the track actually got too cold. We started to rattle the tires in second and third gear. We stepped up for the session, but our problem was that a lot of guys made good runs this morning and we just couldn't get around them. We left a lot on the table. George (Marnell) ran a 6.93 and that tells us that we have that capability as well. We just have to figure out how to get it out of the car. We tried a couple of things tonight that showed us that we went in the wrong direction. We'll just go back the other way two clicks and see if we hit it in the morning. First round is going to be big." No. 9 qualifier - 6.955ET/197.88MPH

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "We set the car up pretty much the same today as we did last night. I think it was just a matter of the track coming around for us. We had a good 60-foot time last night, we were on a real good pass, I put the car in third gear and it just came absolutely unhooked. I stayed with it as long as I could, but discretion being the better part of valor sometimes, I just lifted. It was only the first pass of the season and there are plenty more to come. Today we battled the tires a little bit in first gear, put it in second a little early to try to get all of the clutch out of it, and this time, in fourth gear, it again came unhooked. The difference was that is was controllable this time and stayed headed in the right direction. We stayed with it and tonight, the Dynomax Pontiac Firebird is qualified in the No. 3 position. We feel there's something left in it, but as far as the track was concerned, we pretty much drained it." No. 3 qualifier - 6.932ET/198.12MPH

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) "To be honest, we made a pretty nice run tonight, but we had a little engine gremlin in the Dynagear Firebird and that kept us from going 6.91 or 6.92. Terry Adams is our new crew chief and he hasn't had an opportunity to dance with this car much. This is his first national event. We only tested a couple of times over the winter so it's going to take a little time to get everything working together. I think we're going to be pretty tough going into tomorrow if we can shake the gremlins out. There may be three or four hundredths left in this car, and if the driver does his job, I don't see any reason why we can't win this thing." No. 12 qualifier - 6.964ET/197.62MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We still haven't made a good run yet this weekend. The track is pretty tricky out there and we're still chasing it quite a bit. We put too much clutch in the Summit Racing Firebird this morning and what we have to do is find that happy medium. I feel pretty confident that we can run much quicker. We're just glad that we were able to stay in the top-half of the field going into tomorrow. Tonight we went to the far side of the spectrum and made another awful run - melted the clutch out of it to be exact. I was skating around pretty good towards the end. This car doesn't like the left lane, so the fact that we have lane choice is definitely going to help us. We're in and tomorrow's a new day. I remember last year when we didn't qualify for this race. So this a good way to start and we're already ahead of last season's program." No. 8 qualifier - 6.950ET/198.96MPH


Del Worsham (Checkers Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "You know things have changed around here when a 5.03 is disappointing. This Firebird is fully capable of running at the front of the pack. It made a hard move to the left and I thought maybe it had put a cylinder out on that bank. But when we got to the end, we found the reason. The spill plate on the left side of the spoiler bent out in the front, caught a whole bunch of air, and pulled us left. I'm sure it slowed us down too. We hurt the clutch a little in today's first run, so we had a brand new unit in there for this session, backed it down a little after smoking the tires, and just took the hard edge off the performance. That is still kind of funny though, last year we'd have been seriously pumped over a 5.03 at 305 mph. Now, we know we should be running 4.90s, maybe better. Sure we would have liked to take the pole position back, but we're making big strides around here and we'll take it as it comes. Even with the spoiler problem, we got some speed back and ran it through the lights that time, so that's a positive thing. This car can run 315 on a good pass. Right now, we're looking forward to winning rounds tomorrow." No. 4 qualifier - 4.968ET/305.15MPH Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "We dropped a cylinder very early in the first run in our Firebird, but that was actually the first full run we've had on this car with the new five-disc clutch. We're very encouraged with every thing and it looks pretty good. It just lost load from not having enough clutch but we ran it on through to the finish on seven cylinders plus I shut it off early. We shouldn't have too much trouble stepping up on race day. This place is really tricky. It doesn't seem to be all that good for about ten feet although our car ran .890 at 60 feet. It looks like the high horse power cars are having the most trouble and our biggest problem has been consistency. That's what we're working five-flat or in the 4.90s if she goes to the other end on all eight." No. 14 qualifier - 5.252ET/272.17MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "We're just happy with the New Year, this Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird, we didn't hurt anything and we made it into the show. Everything seems to be going pretty well. We had to change the clutch around to get ready for this weekend because we knew what the track was like last year. It almost worked perfect, but it started spinning the tires on the other end. The car will definitely run better and we're optimistic about tomorrow." No. 13 qualifier - 5.221ET/277.03MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Dale Creasy Jr. , George Marnell , Terry Adams , Steve Schmidt