Pontiac Racing Notes From Pomona -- Sunday

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 39th ANNUAL AUTOZONE WINTERNATIONALS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1999 POMONA, CALIFORNIA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We had a vacuum line come off, and that cost us 20 horsepower. ...



Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "We had a vacuum line come off, and that cost us 20 horsepower. The engine just blew through the clutch, so apparently we torched the clutch discs. Now it's a matter of analyzing why that happened; with as much clutch pressure we had, it shouldn't have slipped. It's going to take some work to get this new car sorted out. It's not as comfortable in low gear as the old car, but it's running pretty fast considering that it's not making perfect runs yet." "We'll go back and work on it, and I believe we'll make a race horse out of it. " Lost in round two

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "I was pretty happy with our performance today. The Splitfire/Peak Firebird ran consistently but we missed the combination on that last run against Troy (Coughlin). I thought I was driving well and I was excited about racing today, but I just got caught a little bit on the starting line and I couldn't get around him. The lanes were equal and the track got a lot better for that session as evidenced by Jeg's (Coughlin) 6.91 elapsed time. We just missed the combination. We should have stepped it up and put some more clutch in it. We ended up slipping the clutch a lot in first and second gear and we just couldn't overcome that lost momentum. I think this Pontiac shows some potential. We ran in the top three or four cars all weekend and I think we can do that all year. We have some new motors coming together but the main thing is to figure out how to get this car down the track. We worked with the wing all day and utilized some things we learned from an aerodynamic standpoint in the wind tunnel. By losing that fourth qualifying run here, it kept us behind the eight ball and we're still coming at it from the wrong end. Hopefully, if we can keep working on it we'll get it figured out. Phoenix is the next race, we'll do some testing there and try to run a little better. Then we'll go to Gainesville, and we'll just work our way to the top one race at a time."

"There's a lot of competition out here. I don't think anyone's going to be tremendously dominant. Warren's performance is excellent and Kurt's performance is excellent. But you saw today that it's going to take more than fast elapsed times to win. You have to drive good and you have to make the right calls at the right time. There are a lot of cars out here right now that can run at the front of the pack and win races. If you can go to the semi finals at every race, you're going to be a threat to win the championship." Lost in round three

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) "I think the Dynomax Firebird is off to a really good start. I think the car works really well, and the crew, again, did a marvelous job preparing for this race. As loose as the race track was, it may have just been a matter of picking the wrong lane. We were first pair out and we didn't have the advantage of looking at anybody that runs similar to the way we run. With the fuel cars, you just can't tell. The car was loose and to be quite honest, I got left on. Troy (Coughlin) did a great job on the starting line but we got the car down the track well, and for the first race, we did okay. We're off to a good start and I think we're going to be pretty competitive this year."

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) "We're terribly disappointed by our performance this weekend because we learned in testing earlier in the year that we have the race car, the team and the power potential to win some races this year. Being besieged with gremlins all weekend, the Dynagear Firebird never really made a good run. In the first round we were the third quickest car but developed a miss in the engine that cost us horsepower and elapsed time. We knew that if we could correct that, we could be as fast if not faster that Warren. But we just couldn't do it. Unfortunately, we had that same problem in round two and got nipped by about a foot. I'm certainly pleased that we got a round and some points, especially with the way we ended the '98 season, but I was just disappointed for my team. They've worked real hard and there really isn't any reason for us not to be in the semi finals. Truthfully, there's really no reason why we shouldn't be in the finals. We'll take it back to the shop and field strip it. We weren't planning on testing before Phoenix, but after what's happened during the last couple of days, we're going to have to." Lost in round two

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "I'm going to try and drive better and make more consistent runs. I was late and the car just wouldn't go down the race track. We have some power in the Summit Racing Firebird and it's disappointing to start out the season this way. I was very optimistic about our chances today. We're just going to keep working at it. I've got a positive attitude and we have a great bunch of guys on this team. The guys at the engine shop are doing a fabulous job as well as the crew on the road. It will come together. We just have to approach it one race at a time. One of our goals is to be one of the few elite teams to qualify at every race. If we can do that and win rounds at all 22 events then that would definitely give us a good finish in November. There's already several cars that ran real fast last year that failed to qualify here. But every race is different. You have to have some experience and a little luck as well, make sure things don't go wrong in a good session and make the right calls. If you're not racing on Sunday then you don't have any chance of scoring any points." Lost in round one


Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) "This is not the way we wanted to start the season. We got qualified, went to the first round and got beat. This sounds strange for us, but we actually have a handle on our clutch program. It's working superb and you may have noticed from the lack of tire smoke all weekend. We went out there and in the first session, this Firebird was out ahead of Bazemore. We left on him, the car ran faster, it was running good and a rod broke. Plain and simple parts failure. We've looked at the motor and we can't find a good reason for what happened. It's really bothering us because the engine's blowing up and we don't know why. Everything's pointing towards rod failure. I'm excited about our clutch program because the parts coming out of it look tremendous. It seems to go through our bad spot on the race track pretty good and we know our motor will run if we can get this Pontiac Firebird to the other end. We won't have time to test before Phoenix because we have too much going on. But we were just there so we've got a little bit of a head start there. We'll go there, give it our best shot and try to keep the rods in it. I think we'll be just fine." Lost in round one

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) "I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to give up. I hit the gas, and the Mad Magazine Firebird went hard to the right towards the centerline. So I jerked it back, it started shaking and I still couldn't see Densham. Then it went towards the wall but I still didn't want to lift because Gary was nowhere in sight. Then I hit the gas again and I almost got the wall. I thought, 'let's go for it again,' and then I got sideways and realized there was no point in wrecking the car. We're finally learning that this sport is not about racing the other guy. Every single time out there, if you do your own thing, it will work out. That's what we're doing. It's just a matter of making the other guy beat us. We're going to run our race car like we know how, and if they beat me, they beat me, and if they don't, then we advance. It's pretty simple really." Lost in round two

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) "We're going to go run the wheels off this Pontiac next week in Phoenix. We really thought we had the JCIT Firebird under control. The first run was strong but we blew out the burst panel. We were walking around like we knew what we were up to but this place just threw us a curve. This starting line - I can't say it's bad because Force and Skuza are ripping up and down through there like it's the best place in the world. I don't know exactly why we're having these problems but we're going to fix it. Between the starting line and the air, we're just a little bit fooled. But Terry (Manzer) and John (Stewart) will get this car figured out. They've had a couple of sleepless nights thinking about it so I'm confident they'll get it figured out. I'm still pleased to be here and now it's on to Phoenix. We're not going to let this slow us down or disrupt our game plan. We're still a championship contender, we're going to maintain that train of thought and you'll see us in the winner's circle real soon." Did Not Race


Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) "Missing the two qualifying runs on Saturday hurt us. Not having that tuning data hurt us. I feel like I let the team down, but they (the crew) understood the situation and that makes me feel good. We gave it a good shot against Dunn, but his car is running awfully strong right now. I did shut the car off early because the engine started to go away and there was no way I was going to catch him. I didn't want to risk blowing an engine." Lost in round one

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt