Reading: Pontiac Racing finals notes

MOHNTON, Pa. (September 17, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals were completed today at Maple Grove Raceway Park. PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "It was a...

MOHNTON, Pa. (September 17, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals were completed today at Maple Grove Raceway Park.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "It was a win-win situation for Warren Johnson Enterprises. Whether I won or Kurt won really made no difference because as we all know, all these funds go in the same category to help fund this program, so it was a win-win deal. It was good for Kurt -- good for his team. They've taken a while to gel, but it looks like they're on course and they should be ready for next year. It's just one of those things that I'm happy that he won. It should vault him solidly into second place for the rest of the year, and all I have to do is work on getting into third. We're experimenting with this car for a direction for next year on the Grand Ams and Cavaliers. Both Kurt's and my cars are kind of unorthodox by Pro Stock standards, but I think it's shedding some light on the direction we need to go for next year and that's primarily what we've looked at the last half of this year. In that last run I moved around a little bit in the right-hand lane just like I did in the first round, but we did as well as we could. Overall it wasn't that bad of a run. We were off by about two and a half hundredths from where we should have been. It moved around in second and third gear so we lost a lot of momentum to the eighth mile, but then the backhalf was the equivalent of Kurt, so we were in good shape there."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "It's disappointing. Kurt (Johnson) is always a tough competitor and I knew we would have our hands full. Our car just didn't run real well. We've been having trouble all weekend. This car just seems to get upset and won't calm down. Unfortunately where we qualified the Summit Racing Firebird hurt us in who we had to run first round and I think he was actually the quickest of the session. It's disappointing after going to the finals here last year; we wanted to do one better. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. On to Topeka!"

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We just couldn't adapt to the track at all today. We had a good race with Kurt (Johnson), we just lost it. We were about even on the light, we just couldn't get a hold of the track. We tried to change the power in the motor, and we got used to the track being cold and then it got warm. We needed to probably do something different with the Eagle One Firebird. I feel pretty good going into Topeka. I feel better than I have in a month and a half about how things are going."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm really excited with how the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird is running. Terry (Adams) is making good calls on the car. Everybody is working really well together. I'm still a little disappointed, as I was last week with my driving. In the second round I obviously left a little too much left on the table with Warren (Johnson). I am really excited about how fast we ran compared to Warren. When I look at the graph I can see that the car has a little more in it. Of course everyone says that. But the thing is no one is out there making perfect runs. We need to get back in the winning mode and that takes the driver, the crew chief, and the car and right now I think we have a pretty good car. We have a lot of horsepower and have a darn good crew chief and crew. We just got to get it all together. Finally I'm looking forward to going to the next race."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) -- "What a disappointing way to end a great weekend. I can't blame anyone but myself. I should have been better at the tree. It's not like I had a bad reaction time but his was better and he stole the win from me. It stinks no matter how you say it. I looked down for a second and when I looked back up he had already lit both lights. Then I hurried through my procedure and went in before I was ready. Rick has warned me at the last few races about how I stage. I didn't want to upset him and get disqualified. It just threw me off a little and that cost me. Whenever I lose a race like this I feel so bad because it's like I let the team down. Obviously, the guys gave me a great car to race this weekend but I didn't take advantage of it at all. I also messed up a good chance to make up some ground on the two guys in front of me in the points. They both lost right in front of me and I knew I had a golden opportunity to make up some ground. I sure hope I didn't use up all of my luck already. We still have five races left and I want to finish on an up-note. We'll just have to regroup and get set for the next race."

FUNNY CAR

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "I just won a drag race! It hasn't sunk in yet. I can hardly believe it. It's great. Every time I've raced Ron (Capps) before it's always went his way. We're good friends and it was fun for it to go my way for a change. I am more happy that my first win came against a tough competitor instead of getting the criticism of getting lucky. I got low ET in Funny Car for the event which is even cooler. The guys worked their butts off. We threw the clutch out twice - second round and third round. I went and got a clutch from Gary (Scelzi) and used it. A Funny Car is just a little different from the dragster. Who's to say you can't run a Funny Car like a Top Fuel Car. So that's what we did and it worked out for us. This is just a really cool feeling. We knew this season wasn't going to be easy. We're a new team, and kind of green, but I think all year we've been working up to this point. The new Pontiac Firebird body has been great. I am so happy for my all my sponsors - e-moola.com and Pontiac. I am pretty speechless to say the least. What a day."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Well at least everyone else seemed to have a weird round too. No sweat, running great, had him covered, and then it just spun the tires a little down there and threw the #3 rod right out of it. All I could do was hold on and hope he didn't come by, but he got me at the end. Just another entry in our log of weirdness. It's getting to the point where you just don't expect normal stuff to happen."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "It was going along ok, when down there at 1,000 feet it dropped a cylinder on the left side and made a hard move to the wall. It was lift or crash, so I didn't have much choice. Fortunately, though breaks have b een scarce around here, like almost nonexistent, Gary had trouble down there too. So we'll take the win and see what we can do in Round 2."

After second round: I don't know.  Upsets all over the place, we run good all 
weekend and had a good car today, and we get beat by an inch.  We were 
closing the gap on him, at 1,325 feet I went by him.  Too bad the track is 
1,320.  It's pretty disgusting."

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "Well I am disappointed to say the least. I had Frank (Pedregon) and then we broke a rocker arm out there a little ways and Frankie got ahead of us. Then his started to blow up, I got around him and then I was thinking that we got this won, no problem. But then the blower belt broke, which is no good. We're disappointed with the loss but extremely happy with the performance of the NEC Pontiac Firebird. We finally feel that we've got something going. All in all a good weekend." Jim Dunn (Crew Chief of the Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We ran away from the clutch. It slipped so much Al shut off. But the good news is we didn't break any motors. We cured our rod breakage problem. Things are looking good now and we are ready to start hoping again. When things start breaking you have to take a step back and start walking, now we're ready to start running with it again. We're ready to go racing."

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) -"I feel pretty good. It was nice to beat John (Force). This Firebird ran exactly how I thought it would run if we could get it down the track, and there is not a better time to do it than the first round. I am ready to go on to the second round and do the same. We feel pretty confident right now. It's going to be an interesting day."

After second round: "It was a pretty good run. We didn't change anything from the first round, and it repeated, but it just spun the tires a little bit harder and the track got a little bit hotter. We should've changed the tune-up but we didn't and we dropped a cylinder. Other then that we had him. I still couldn't see him at half-track. We had a nice recovery from being the 16th qualifier. And when you take out Force you've almost already won the race."

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac Dragster) - "We just smoked the tires. We were too aggressive for the track today. It's disappointing because I know this MBNA/Pontiac dragster can run well. We will just have to be ready to go again in Topeka. We had a decent weekend. We ran pretty consistent the whole time. The track just got the best of us."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Tommy Johnson Jr.