Reading Friday Pontiac Report

PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PIONEER KEYSTONE NATIONALS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1998 READING, PENNSYLVANIA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) "We just have to figure out why we fried two clutches in this thing. It...



Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) "We just have to figure out why we fried two clutches in this thing. It just won't leave the starting line. The GM Goodwrench Firebird runs fine from half track on, but something in the clutch area has just cropped up, and we're not sure what it is. We'll work our way through it. Tomorrow morning will be as good as it was tonight. It will just be a matter of going out and eliminating our mistakes." No. 17 qualifier -- 7.021ET / 196.93MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) "So far, we've been sneaking up on it a little slow. We started off a little conservative and slipped the clutch on the Splitfire/Peak Firebird. We came back tonight and thought we had a decent amount of clutch in the car, but it was still incredibly light on the clutch. I think if we can get enough clutch in it tomorrow morning, the track should be really good, and I believe the air will be even better.

We'll just have to wait and see if we can make a better run. I think we can definitely step up tomorrow if the air is like it was this morning. Last year, both Saturday sessions were actually better than the Friday night session, and we were able to step up to the No. 1 qualifying position during the morning run. That's typically what happens here. In the evening on Friday, the dew comes in and the track gets a little loose down track. We really don't get the big numbers we expect. The humidity is also heavy and these naturally aspirated Pro Stock engines do not like humidity. The carburetors can't deal with that. Tomorrow the air will be a little drier, the track will be better and we should see a 6.93 or a 6.94." No. 5 qualifier -- 6.972ET / 196.59MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) "I'll sleep well tonight, that's for sure. It's nice to make a decent run on Friday night. We've struggled to do that over the last two races. We short shifted second gear a little bit, but we made two pretty good hits with the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird today. It's nice to be fairly comfortable for race day, I hope! It's tough when you look at what separates the No. 7 qualifier and the No. 1 qualifier -- it's just a couple of hundredth's of a second. We did some extensive testing after Indy, but didn't have much luck. We brought the old car out on Wednesday, and couldn't even get it down the race track. Before and after Indy, we made 30 runs, really hitting it hard trying to find a combination. We just need to keep our consistency up tomorrow and get ready for Sunday. It feels pretty good to make two good runs in a row. It looks like I can do my job a little better, but that's all right. That just means there may be a little bit left for tomorrow. " No. 7 qualifier -- 6.975ET / 196.07MPH

Richie Stevens (Collins Racing Pontiac Firebird) "That qualifying run was a little unexpected but we knew we had to be good because we were on the bubble. We had to get a good run down and the Collins Racing Firebird went straight as an arrow. It never shook, spun or anything. I haven't looked at the computer yet, but it sure felt picture perfect. My guys did a great job. They had the clutch just right and they just did a terrific job figuring out what the car needed. With the great conditions we had tonight, it just happened to work out well for us. It feels good to know that on Friday, we're comfortably in the field. We don't really have much chance of getting bumped so we can use tomorrow as a test day and get ready for Sunday. It's a good feeling because if we didn't run solid tonight, we could have been bumped out on Saturday. Now we can set up the next two qualifying passes as if we were racing. There's a tremendous amount of pressure with the Friday night session. It's a make it or break it deal. If something goes wrong on Saturday that could be all she wrote. You have to be on your game, and stay focused because a lot of times you don't get a second chance. It feels good to be No. 1 tonight." No. 1 qualifier -- 6.958ET / 197.23MPH

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) "We feel a little lousy right now. The Outlaw Firebird gets completely out of shape at the other end of the track every time we make a run. It just will not stay straight. It's bouncing all over the place, shaking itself out of the groove and then we just start spinning the tires. We can't gain any information from these runs. I'm really flustered right now. We need to make some major changes and get ready for tomorrow morning. If we figure out what's wrong then we can post a real quick time. The weather should be cool enough to go fast. We have to get better in a hurry." No. 24 qualifier -- 7.049ET / 195.35MPH

Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) "I'm super excited because we totally missed the clutch set-up and still ran a 6.999. We left at least five-hundredths of a second on the track. It looks as though we have a lot of the information we're going to need for our Pennzoil Firebird to run fast on Sunday. I would like to improve our spot on the ladder and I believe we still have a real good chance to move up tomorrow morning. If the conditions are anything like they were today at 11a.m., then we'll all be running just as fast as we were tonight." No. 11 qualifier -- 6.999ET / 196.42MPH


Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "We actually lost a cylinder on the first run down the course, but the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird was on a five-oh (5.00) run. I shut the engine off because it just didn't feel right to me. That 5.17 we ran this afternoon was still good enough to put us in the show. We'll come out tonight and go for it. The track is pretty good. I just don't think Wes (Cerny) was going out to put up a big number. Our goal was to get it down the track, get it in the show and progressively work our way towards Sunday. We'll get it fixed, and hopefully we can get the night session in before the dew sets in. The track should be awesome. The 5.17 is solid. Any time you can make it down the track on the first run is always a plus. We're going to continue to get better. Wes worked on some things after Indy that we're sure is going to improve our performance. I'm looking forward to the last six races and finishing strong." No. 5 qualifier -- 5.029ET / 277.17MPH

Del Worsham (Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "We've had a trend going on this team for a long time now. The joke on the team is that we should just take Fridays off because we never do any good on Friday, and always have to stress out getting in the show solidly on Saturday. Well, it would be OK with me if we never heard that, or said it again. We just flat out need to get some good baseline runs in on Friday so we're not under so much pressure on Saturday. Today and tonight, it was like we had our Firebird bracketed but we didn't find it. We didn't have enough clutch in it this afternoon, and it shook the tires hard. Tonight, we were a little too aggressive in going the other way. When I saw how the humidity was going up, I was actually afraid we were just going to smoke the tires right at the hit of the throttle. So if there's a silver lining, it's that we got out there 500 feet or so before it let go. That gives us a little more data to work with tomorrow." No. 18 qualifier -- 8.783ET / 95.01MPH

Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) "The track's pretty good, we just went up there a little weak. We're going to put a little more power in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird tonight and we should be OK. It was going along good there, but it just shook the tires. It was weak. If we can keep it in the middle of the lane and run it down through there, we should run a low 5.00. We didn't want to get after it too hard because this place has been difficult in the last two years to say the least. We'll give it a little bit more early because the cars really seem to like the concrete." No. 16 qualifier -- 7.058ET / 121.93MPH

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) "We were on a heck of a pass and probably should have run a four. With the track conditions being raw, it really was a pretty good pass for the JCIT Pontiac Firebird. We started spinning the tires when the car went to lock the clutch up. It murdered the tires so I don't know what to think of that. But it launched well and was running OK. But Capps and Etchells would also have run just as good. We just want to stay towards the top. The transition where that asphalt meets the concrete gave us some trouble, but as soon as we get some more rubber on the track, I think this Firebird is going to fly. We're in the middle of the pack tonight so we'll be able to watch a few cars go down before we make our run. If we have to make some decisions, we'll be able to." No. 2 qualifier -- 5.008ET / 301.40MPH

Dale Creasy (Creasy Racing Pontiac Firebird) "I hit the gas and it almost startled me because our Pontiac Firebird Funny Car hadn't left like that in so long that I wasn't ready for it. All of a sudden, it made a little quiver, it hooked up and I said to myself, 'here we go!' Then I thought it was spinning the tires because it started to lay over a little bit. I went another 50 feet, realized it wasn't the tires, let off and the clutch exploded. The car would have ran pretty good but the clutch just came apart. We found our problem during the last couple of weeks. Our motor wasn't revving as high as it should have been. It's really revving now. This is what it's supposed to do, but we blew out the clutch and blew the main bearing. We won't run until tomorrow though because we won't be able to get it ready for tonight." No. 13 qualifier -- 5.571ET / 197.71MPH

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson