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MOHNTON, Pa. (September 16, 2000) - The field is set for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher, in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird set a track-record elapsed time of 6.846 seconds at 200.56...

MOHNTON, Pa. (September 16, 2000) - The field is set for the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher, in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird set a track-record elapsed time of 6.846 seconds at 200.56 mph to take the No. 1 qualifying spot. Darrell Alderman is second in a Dodge with an elapsed time of 6.853 seconds at 199.17 mph. Warren Johnson is qualified third, Richie Stevens is fourth, and George Marnell is fifth. Jim Yates is qualified sixth in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird, and Mark Pawuk is eighth in the Summit Racing Firebird. Tom Martino was 20th, Brad Jeter was 21st and Bruce Allen was 22nd.

In Funny Car, John Force took top honors in a Ford with a track-record elapsed time of 4.836 seconds at 306.33 mph. Frank Pedregon ran his career-best elapsed time of 4.879 seconds at 308.71mph to take the second spot in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird. Dean Skuza is qualified third, Del Worsham is fourth and Scotty Cannon is fifth. Jerry Toliver is sixth in the WWF Pontiac Firebird, Bruce Sarver is ninth, Al Hofmann is 12th, Gary Densham is 15th and Tommy Johnson Jr. is 16th. Dale Creasy Jr. finished the day qualified 17th.

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 4.535 seconds and a track-record speed of 324.67mph. Gary Scelzi is qualified second, Melanie Troxel is third, Joe Amato is fourth and Andrew Cowin is fifth. Cory McClenathan is eighth in the MBNA/ Pontiac dragster with an elapsed time of 4.615 seconds at 305.49 mph. McClenathan qualified for his 175th consecutive race, an NHRA Top Fuel record.

Same day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, September 17, on ESPN2 beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "It's not going too bad for us today. No sense in complaining about it. All the wounds are self-inflicted. It got a little out of the groove and we overestimated it a little bit. Last night we underestimated it, so we need to find a happy medium and then we'll be fine. We're pretty confident and feel we're in good shape." Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "Well we didn't have too bad of a day. We are in the middle of the field. We obviously would like to be farther up the latter, but we'll just have to deal with it and be ready tomorrow. I feel pretty confident about tomorrow, but I think it will be a tough race, especially if the weather is like it was today. It should be pretty interesting. Hopefully we can go a few rounds with the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We're closer! We finally found out what the heck was wrong with our picture. We took two-and-a-half hundredths and two-and-a-half miles per hour off the backhalf of the track. It didn't run very good on the front but we'll get that figured out this time. We've regained our strength with the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. I am really confident. I can't believe how confident I am right now. We're going for the pole tonight! It's pretty exciting to be back in business."

After second session: "I knew we were going to have a good run with this Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. I told everyone this morning that today was the day things were going to turn around for us. I tried to avoid racing Darrell (Alderman). I wanted to keep my mind focused on one thing and that was going fast and getting down the track. So I waited for him to go ahead and then I went. I told everyone that we were going to be No. 1 tonight -- and we were. It's great to be back on track. We've been struggling since Indy. We weren't running any speed and Warren (Johnson) was running our butts off. But now we are back on track and we're excited. I think we will do well tomorrow. Our whole team is just thrilled. I am enjoying the heck out of this year, and next year will be even better."

Richie Stevens Jr. (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "The weekend started off real good with the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird. We ran a 6.92 in yesterday's first session and we were looking pretty good. Last night we were the last pair out and looking to set the world on fire. We got out there and in about second gear the shifter handle broke off in my hand. That put a damper on things, so I shut it down. So, we came out this morning and with their new qualifying order now, where the quickest gets to go last and the slower get to go first, we were the second pair out and didn't feel real good about it. Especially since the motorcycles went before us, usually one of the grooves is heated up a little more then the other. And then we ran a 6.87, which really shocked me. The car's been running real good. We've had two great runs - should've been three. But tonight we should be running in the back of the pack and I think the track will be just as good as it has been on all three runs. We should pick up a little more. That last run was a little bouncy on the top end so we should be able to run towards the top if not the top spot."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) -- "I'm just happy the car went straight and the parachute came out. The ET was a bonus. I'm really happy with the progress of the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. Last night we were light on the clutch and the car was shaking pretty good, got out of the groove in second gear and on top of that the parachute didn't come out. Today, Terry (Adams) moved the chassis around a little bit and worked on the clutch. Obviously we have a pretty good combination. We were number two at the 60-foot line. It went pretty straight down the racetrack, it got a little bit out of the groove in second gear but very minor. It was exceptionally smooth down track. They did a great job smoothing this track out. There are no bumps at all on the driveshaft graph. That makes it a lot easier to get the combination right. We had a great run. I am really excited. A 6.87 is a good run for us. To be up with the top 4 cars is great. Terry (Adams) has some ideas that might clean the run up a little bit. So we're going to make some moves on the clutch and the chassis and try and pick it up a couple of thousandths. I'm sure some other cars are going to step up. There are still some fast cars that are behind us. We can't sit on our butts and expect to be happy with that. If we don't improve we'll go backwards in the qualifying positions. But, we feel pretty confident. The strength is in the team. Every time we go down that racetrack we gain a little more experience. You can't expect to get on top in one day. Rome wasn't built in a day. If we can just stay patient we will prevail in the end."


Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird) -- "We got both cars down the track on that last qualifying pass. That now gives us something to tune for tomorrow. We're in great position to help Jim (Epler) in his points battle and we'll do all we can to make that happen. We have Tony Pedregon in the first round and it's payback time for that boy."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Our car really wasn't set up a lot differently than Frankie's. Whatever the difference was, I think you can be pretty sure we'll be over looking at their data, not the other way around. We want it to get off the line safely, and when it does that it will run a number. So we have to work on the launch and get a good lap in this afternoon. This is exactly why we have two cars; we're learning so much and helping each other. Now I want to go study Dave Fletcher's computer and see that run, that was incredible."

After second round: "It was far from a perfect run, we left a bunch on the table, but we did what we wanted to do. We ran a low 4.90, moved up to the top of the top half, and ran good. We'd just had some gremlins here this weekend, but we've had a stout car since we pulled in the pits. We've got two racecars that can win. Two teams that can win. That's what this is all about." Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Man, oh man. It was great, and let me tell you I was busy driving it the whole way too. When you're moving that fast and going like that it is busy in there. I think people expect you to get out and say 'It was smooth as glass' but it wasn't. It was busy. At around 100-feet, after it was up and rolling, it kicked me in the butt and started pulling all the way to the finish line. When I got out I knew it was a good lap, maybe another low 4.90, and when they told me 4.87 I was ecstatic. They asked me how it felt and I said, 'Man, I don't even know. I was just driving it, keeping it going and keeping it straight.' How about Dave Fletcher. Awesome."

After second round: "It was truckin'. Our incremental numbers weren't quite side-by-side with Force's 4.83, but the blue CSK Pontiac was on a legit 4.85. Just a couple of years ago, a 5.00 was the run of the career, everything had to go right. Now we shut off at 900-feet and run a 5.00 coasting across at only 240mph. It's weird how this sport progresses year after year. Nothing was wrong with it; it just chucked the belt off. We feel good, we know we can run with anyone. This is all business. We mean business tomorrow. With Del and Chuck Worsham, Rob Flynn, Dave Fletcher and these two teams, we have what it takes. I hope people know we're here."

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "We finally got a racecar back. During the first run today we had the old body on it and it smoked the tires like we've had problems before. Our problem now is that our new body is so heavy. It has a great design but is just too heavy compared to the old body. It makes it tough to carry all that weight. So now we are trying to decide what we need to do. We have the design in the new one but the weight in the old one. The run this morning after half-track was faster then anything we've ever run. We're really pleased with that. Just getting to point A to point B is the problem."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "That was a lot better than yesterday. That puts the Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird in the show. We'll get a handle on it. It's spinning the tires pretty hard up on the top but once we get that under control we should run pretty well. Jim (Dunn) is going to make a few minor changes but nothing major. If it sticks and goes to the end we should run a 4.96 or 4.98. We are pretty confident. I feel confident going into every race but sometimes that gets beat up a little bit along the way. You just have to pick up and go on. But the motor is running real good and is not beating itself up anymore, so that's good. We should be alright for tomorrow."

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "Compared to yesterday we did about the same with the Pontiac Firebird. We were on a really good run. We stayed with (Jerry) Toliver all the way down, but it started shaking so badly I had to shut it off a little early. Which really was a bummer because I think we could've run a good number. Even with that we didn't do too bad. But we're going up there loaded for bear for that last run tonight.

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "It went BANG! It dropped the intake valve and blew the blower off. Then we had no power. But we made it with the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird and that's all that counts. The car is okay. It's not something that normally happens. Actually that's twice this weekend it's happened, so maybe we do have a problem with it but it's nothing that can't be fixed. It caused a lot of damage but it's a small problem. It was a pretty loud boom but it wasn't a big deal. It's struggling but at the same time it's showed potential to run real well. Like the first run today, it was on a really good run until it lost the blower belt, but it was on a 5.05 or quicker run. We'll have to tune it up for (John) Force. He's running so good that he's probably on the verge of smoking the tires. Maybe with a little luck and if we stand on it and go for it, hopefully it will stick."


Cory McClenathan (MBNA Pontiac Dragster) - "We were on a better run in that last session than this morning. But with the oil down before our run, it was a little slick, which made the tires spin a little. I feel pretty confident about tomorrow. The MBNA/Pontiac Dragster is running pretty well. There are a lot of tough cars out there and this is a great track. We should see some good racing tomorrow. I am looking forward to it!"

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Richie Stevens Jr. , Darrell Alderman , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Andrew Cowin , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Melanie Troxel , George Marnell , Chuck Worsham , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.