Reading: Pontiac Racing Friday notes

MOHNTON, Pa. (September 15, 2000) -- Qualifying for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals got underway today at Maple Grove Raceway. In Pro Stock, Darrell Alderman in a Dodge Avenger took the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of...

MOHNTON, Pa. (September 15, 2000) -- Qualifying for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals got underway today at Maple Grove Raceway. In Pro Stock, Darrell Alderman in a Dodge Avenger took the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 6.874 seconds at 198.55 mph. Warren Johnson in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird is qualified second with an elapsed time of 6.888 seconds at 200.23 mph. Ron Krisher is qualified third, Mark Pawuk is fourth and Jeg Coughlin is fifth. Richie Stevens is qualified eighth, Jim Yates is 10th and Brad Jeter is 11th. Tom Martino is qualified 22nd and Bruce Allen is 24th.

In Funny Car, John Force in a Ford took top honors today with a track-record elapsed time of 4.865 seconds at 312.50 mph. Frank Pedregon is qualified second in the CSK Pontiac Firebird with a run of 4.934 seconds at 303.23 mph. Dean Skuza is qualified third, Jerry Toliver and the WWF Pontiac Firebird is fourth and Cristen Powell is fifth. Del Worsham is qualified seventh, Bruce Sarver is ninth, Gary Densham and the NEC Pontiac Firebird is 14th, Tommy Johnson Jr. is 15th, and Al Hofmann is 16th in the Mooneyes Firebird. Dale Creasy Jr. qualified 17th.

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher drove his way to the No. 1 qualifying position with a track-record elapsed time of 4.535 seconds at 324.67 mph. Gary Scelzi is qualified second, Joe Amato is third, Andrew Cowin is fourth, and Doug Herbert is fifth. Cory McClenathan is qualified ninth in the MBNA/Pontiac dragster with an elapsed time of 4.680 seconds at 312.93 mph.

Same-day television coverage of the Keystone Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, September 17, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We knew the track was capable of producing a run like that. I expect the ET to get even better. Everybody should pick up if the track doesn't start to get damp. That's the big thing. This afternoon was an almost ideal scenario with decent air and the track was warm. Now tonight the air might be better but the track may not be adequate - we won't know until we get there. This is probably one of the smoothest tracks we run on all year. But it may change depending on how much rubber gets down on the track. Tomorrow morning's run could be even better. If the sunlight gets on the track, or even if it's overcast, the air could be better than it was this afternoon. The car is coming around finally. We struggled early on, and it was hard to ever recover when you have a schedule like we have. Next year will be different. We are going to work on starting out strong, and building from there instead of struggling and trying to get back on track the whole season. Next year will be different."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "That was a fair run. I wish it could've been better. I hope that was a baseline run for us because we didn't make the right kind or run like some of the other guys that have really stepped up. The Summit Racing Firebird usually likes this kind of weather, we just kind of missed it and were a little heavy. We'll see what happens tonight. A lot of cars have stepped up and are making some good runs. I think tonight and tomorrow will be excellent for racing. Hopefully we will find the right combination and run fast."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We were a little heavy.  We had a 
new clutch in the car and all new pieces.  We started out somewhere, I guess 
it ran okay.  I think the Eagle One Firebird can pick up quite a bit.  It 
didn't surprise me that Warren (Johnson) went 6.89.  He's capable of that 
pretty consistently.  I think we could've run a 6.90 maybe.  The track was 
okay, we just had too much clutch and spun pretty much the whole way down.  
We need to calm it down a little bit.  But I think we'll be okay."

Jim Yates(Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "We were being a little conservative at the starting line because in Englishtown during the time trials we got a little aggressive and it just wouldn't get through low gear. So we went up conservative on the clutch in order to get through low gear and get down the track. By the time I got it through third gear it was going pretty good. We were number three for speed. Our Splitfire Pontiac Firebird really likes this air. We just need to get the tires spinning a little more on the starting line. It's got two or three hundredths left in it, we just have to try and get up in the top half of the field."

On parachutes not coming out after second run: "When it's real humid like this we put baby powder in the chutes to absorb the moisture. When we made the run this morning we didn't make it down the track so we didn't pull the parachute. The chute sat in a pack all afternoon and then it rained and we had a lot of humidity. We should've pulled it out and aired it out and then put it back in. It's just like a pillow -- you take it out, fluff it up and put it back in it's case and then it comes out a lot easier. When I pulled the parachute it was so balled up in there because of the humidity, and bound to itself that it fell out, fell on the wheelie bars and got hooked. I realized right away that I didn't have the chutes and was on the breaks all the way. With it being dark, and it being a downward hill at the end of the track I thought I was going to get it stopped. Then I realized that there was a fence up where they used to just let us go across the state road but instead there was peat gravel. There was no way it was going to stop so I got about a 100 yards from it and locked the brakes up. When I did that the car spun around sideways. Luckily, the car tires but besides that everything seems to be ok."

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We did pretty good. I've never been here before so I wasn't quite sure of the track conditions or the area. All in all it looks like it's going to be a pretty decent weekend. The Dynagear Firebird seems to be doing well and it's adapting to the track. Hopefully if the weather stays cool like it says it will we should see some really fast times tomorrow."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) -- "We're always happy when we start a race weekend with a lap like that. Credit Tommy and John (Utt, crewmen) for getting this Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird ready for this track and the conditions we had today. The weather and the track surface got better and better as the day went along and they nailed the set-up. Maple Grove Raceway used to be a tricky track to get down because it was a little uneven down track where it turns from concrete to asphalt. But the track operators have ground the surface down and smoothed it out quite a bit. That certainly helped everyone put up the numbers we saw in both sessions. In the past, you'd hit those bumps and the car would come right off the track, which caused the tires to spin like crazy. It's hard to go fast when your wheels aren't on the ground. But that didn't happen today."


Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) -"Nice and safe, right down the middle. I know the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird could have run quicker, but you have to take a guess on the first run as to what the track will hold. We guessed just a little soft, but that's the better way to do it. You can step up from here, but it stinks when you miss the other way and don't know how much it will hold. We set the two cars up differently to see the different reactions, and when Frankie ran a 4.93 I knew we were soft. Tonight could be stout or real dicey; it depends on the weather. If it cools off too much, it could be a smoke-fest out there."

After second session: "I don't know yet what exactly the main cause was, but we lost most of our oil pressure backing up from the burnout. We didn't have any leaks, and it looks like the pump was working, we'll just have to go through it and see what the deal was. There's no way we were going to run it, nothing good could have happened. Man, that stinks to let one get away like this. It wasn't going to be easy out there, you saw how many cars smoked the tires, but it was possible. Force did it. We'll never know if we were going to do it too."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Awesome, man, just awesome. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird was flying down there, and it can still run quicker. Fletch (Crew Chief Dave Fletcher) put a great racecar under me, all I had to do was point it to the end and hold on. I knew we were set up a little more stout at the starting line than Del's car, and I was in there just hoping the first 60-feet of track would hold up for us. It wasn't even close to smoking the tires; it was clan as could be. We hurt a couple of parts down there, but to be #1, even after just the first session, well that means a lot to every guy on this team."

After second session: "You hear people say 'We threw too much at it.' Well, we didn't throw too much at it; the track could take a lot, like Force showed. What we did was throw too much at it at the wrong spot on the track. We were just a little too aggressive in the first 3- feet. We weren't trying to hit an upper deck home run, but we were trying to hit one out. I'll admit that."

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "We wanted to be a little conservative since there was a chance of rain. We wanted to get the NEC Pontiac Firebird down the track and in the middle of the show right now. We could have some real fast runs out there with this kind of weather but we also could have some real wet racetracks. You got to start someplace, and I figured it was best to get in the middle of the show and go out a little soft. Hopefully we can step up from here. The track conditions are great. We probably could've given it more but that was our best guess at the time and hopefully tonight we can make the setup a little better."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We just smoked the tires. Not much to say about that run. Hopefully we can do better tonight. We just guessed wrong on the setup. We almost smoked the tires off. We need a lot of luck right now. The track is pretty good and we have to step up and get in the show. We need to get in gear for us, our team and our sponsors - Mooneyes, Red Line Oil and Pontiac. I know Jim (Dunn) will get the job done. We are just frustrated right now."

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "That was a pretty nice run. It was going until we got to the halftrack. Unfortunately there is no racetrack past the halftrack, and my clutch locked up and spun the tires from there. It was actually quicker than Frank (Pedregon's) run and he ran a 4.93. I hope it doesn't rain but it's already starting to sprinkle. But things are good, I can't complain. We want to go after the pole tonight!"

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "This was a baseline run for us coming out here and not knowing what the track was going to do, worrying about the rain and only getting a couple of qualifying sessions to get in the show. It did exactly what we thought it would do. It was loose on the top end and it was actually pretty good at the bottom of the track. I'm going to say that we will probably see record ET's tonight as cool as it's getting, as long as it doesn't get too cold and we all spin the tires. But I think everyone will run well." k

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Andrew Cowin , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr. , Cristen Powell