Pontiac Racing Sunday Notes & Quotes

PONTIAC FIREBIRD RACING 40th Annual AutoZone Winternationals Pomona Raceway February 6, 2000 Pomona, Calif. (February 6, 2000) - Final eliminations were completed today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. PRO STOCK Warren...

PONTIAC FIREBIRD RACING 40th Annual AutoZone Winternationals Pomona Raceway February 6, 2000

Pomona, Calif. (February 6, 2000) - Final eliminations were completed today for the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "The outlook at the beginning of the day wasn't that favorable, but we were fortunate enough to go to the final," Johnson said. "When you look at the big picture, we're actually 20 points ahead of where we were at this point last year. We know that this Hoosier tire program is going to come along. I think after two or three races, we'll be in excellent shape. I've been given the option to run Goodyears whenever I want. We'll be testing both tires. We'll test and rewire both cars," Johnson said. "I think we have some electrical glitch because we know that the tires don't mph, but we're off more than we should be. We're going to run the car that we completely redid the back half of which I fell will be superior to this car. We have plenty of work to do before the Phoenix race."

Lost in final round

"In the first two rounds today, we survived on driving and pure horsepower. We finally made the right adjustments for the semi-finals. I wish we had made that good of a run one round earlier, so we could have used it to adjust our car for the run against Jeg. You can't take anything away from the Jeg's guys, because they did an awesome job all weekend long. The car that won the race is the one that should have. Having said that, I believe we could have been every bit as fast as they were. Our Century 21 Pontiac Firebird and crew are as good and we have the power they have. We just didn't get from point A to point B as well as they did. But no matter the final results, we can't be too upset with our showing here this weekend. For example, we're leaving here with more points than we had leaving Phoenix one year ago. It's also been a while since someone other than Warren Johnson left the track with the top speed of the event. We learned some things today that we'll use in Arizona." -Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird)

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) -- "The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird ran great all weekend. This is very disappointing. The left lane was the preferred lane all weekend. We wanted to be on the left side, but so many cars had trouble getting down through there so we made the decision to go on the right side. The right lane seemed to be a little slower, but more consistent. We thought we had enough spread between ourselves and the No. 16 qualifier to be able to win from the right lane, and we knew we could get to the finish line and hopefully nor hit anything. Last night we hurt our race engine, so we had to put our back-up engine in and we probably lost a little bit. We just caught it a little too late. George Marnell just did a great job. We'll pick it up in Phoenix."

Lost in round one Bruce Allen (Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "When you're running Warren Johnson, you're not running someone easy. We had a real close race. He drove well and had a good light. Not that I had a bad light, but it's just so close that there's no room for error and he made the better run. The Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird ran good all weekend, the performance was great and we made five real nice passes. If we keep doing this, we'll win some races, I guarantee it."

Lost in round one

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm very disappointed right now. Seems like this year is starting out like last year did. I've been driving a lot better but I just can't seem to get a break. That run ended up being one hundredths of a second between us, probably the closest race of the first round. Unfortunately I was on the wrong end of the light, so I don't know what else to do. I'm trying really hard, the Summit Racing Firebird is running good, so we need a little luck and a few breaks."

Lost in round one

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We were real competitive with the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird, and we had a real good chance of winning the race. I think we just overestimated the track. The track deteriorated a lot more than we expected, which is pretty obvious. We'll just have to take our loss and move on to the next one".

Lost in round one

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "I like to stage first and he usually stages last so I thought we'd be okay. But he pulled right in there ahead of me just like he did the last time we raced. I guess he was trying to throw me off. I just put it out of my mind and went through my normal routine as best I could. When the tree lit, he was gone and I thought 'Oh no, he beat me off the line big time.' But when I saw him lift (off the accelerator) and I looked down the track and saw the win light on in my lane, then I knew he had jumped the light."

Second Session: "If I could've pulled that off, that would have been something. I feel bad for the guys after they worked so hard to get us ready. We've never had to swap motors before between rounds. But, that's just part of leasing engines. It's part of the agreement we have. No matter what, this is a great start to the season for the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird. We're already in the top 10, which is one of our primary goals, so everyone is happy. I'm ready for bigger and better things at the next race in Phoenix (Feb. 24-27.)"

Lost in round two

George Marnell (Marnell Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We have a relatively new team and we were able to find a few things that we need to work on. Our performance wasn't completely stellar this weekend, but we proved a few things to ourselves and showed that we could win rounds. We now know that we can run with the best but we still need to work on our tune up a little bit. We know what our shortcomings are and I'm happy with how well we worked together. The whole program seems to be coming together. The car ran well, but we had problems on the back half of the track. We ran the first half very well but we're slipping the tire in third gear and in round three, we just couldn't recover. Our e.t. was down and our speed was off. We're going to work some other areas of the car and make that right and we'll pick it up."

Lost in round three


Bruce Sarver (emoola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "With the new 75 minute rule, we had a problem that we didn't have time to correct. When we were warming up, the clutch arm broke in our clutch can. We had to be on the starting line immediately. We did the burnout, we got lucky and got it halfway into reverse but I was just waiting for the transmission to break. So I got it back to the starting line but from there I couldn't get it to move forward. For our first race, the emoola.com Pontiac Firebird performed pretty well. This is a brand new team and we've been thrashing the last month trying to put everything together. We qualified fourth, went a couple of rounds, ran 4.95 at 310 mph and I just have to hand it to the team. Unfortunately we had a little bad luck, but it's better to have it happen now than at the end of the year when we hope to be running for the championship. We're going to strip this car of its gremlins and get ready for Phoenix.

Lost in round three

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird) - "We qualified but we went down there and pulled the piston apart so we just had to shut the engine. We got rid of the tire shake and we feel good about that. It's a long season though, but we're starting to run as well as we did without the additional nitro. We actually have to push it harder now than we did with 96 percent to get the same power."

Lost in round one

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "To say that we were pleased with our effort this weekend would be an understatement. When you get down the racetrack six out of seven times in a pretty darn decent way, you have to be pleased. There are a couple of cars out there flying, but when you get down to the final four there sure isn't anything to complain about. The NEC Pontiac Firebird ran about as good as anybody out here and made a good race out of it. We have a lot of things to look forward to. We're extremely happy. We'll get the new 2000 Firebird in a couple of weeks and that's going to make a tremendous difference with the extra downforce. That will allow us to step on it a little harder down on the other end of the track. I'm sure with what Pontiac's done to give us the new car that will put us on top of the ballgame. We're going to have the best and that's worth waiting for."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Man, that was a pump your first scream type of win. Out teammates had a throttle problem on the burnout and we were two pairs behind them. I could feel how mad they were, and so were we. I was super-focused up there, really determined to do my job. Our Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac launched hard, but there's still more to give. It did shake a little and this time I pedaled it really quick and it cleared up and hauled big time to the finish line. Now we've got two full teams out here working on our car, it's a sight to see really. Air guns are going off, parts are flying, and everyone is working together. That first round is so hard to win, it really gets you pumped up when you do it. We're going for it in round two, this car still has a lot of room to go quicker. We've got a lot of important people from Texaco Havoline here with us. They've joined us this year to work with us and develop oil products that will give us an advantage, so I'm really glad we could win one for them."

Second Session - We tried to step on it a lot and yet it went out there and dropped a cylinder on the left bank as soon as I hit the throttle. There goes one-eighth of your power right there, so it was back to serious tire shake and they finally shook loose. I pedaled it because you just never know, but he was long gone. Our goal is to go rounds consistently and even though that was only a second round finish, you need to do that much if you're going to be a solid top-10 team. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird will go to Phoenix confident of a win."

Lost in round two

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We've got a throttle-stop on the cable for the burnout, to keep the car from over-revving. The pin that holds the throttle stop on the burnout, and hung up a little so that the blades wouldn't completely close and the rev's were up just a bit. When that happens, you can't get the car in reverse. I tried blipping it once or twice to see if it would free up, but there was nothing I could do. It was the most frustrated you can imagine being, first round of our first race, and I'm out there with a stuck throttle cable, unable to back up. All I could do was take it down the track and get out of John's way. We're learning, and some of these lessons can be tough ones. I am glad that we got in the show here, but I wanted to give John a race."

Lost in round two


Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) - "We had a lot of new things coming in here. We had the 90 percent rule and the 75 minute rule and it's juts a matter of getting adjusted to the new procedures. We started off okay running a 4.76, turned around, had some problems and kicked the rods out of it. Other than that things went okay. We're just trying to get better and be more progressive. Wes (Cerny) only had a handful of runs on a dragster. He did so well on the Funny Car last year. He's very methodical in his thinking and I think this MBNA/Pontiac dragster is going to be okay. It's just a matter of getting used to running the car the way he wants to run it. People don't realize that hardly anyone got down that right hand lane. We went right down through there and had Gary (Scelzi) slipped up at all, we would have been able to take him out. We had the third quickest run of the second session. I feel pretty good about that. There was no way I was going to beat that 4.63 and right now Gary's got the team to beat. We've had a lot of runs down the Phoenix racetrack and they were easy runs. I think we'll go in there and be able to step on the gas a little bit. We just need to take it one step at a time. Firebird Raceway can be very tricky but it's been very good to me before."

Lost in round two

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , George Marnell , Steve Schmidt