PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PIONEER KEYSTONE NATIONALS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1998 READING, PENNSYLVANIA PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We never call the extra work overtime, we just do whatever it takes to get...
PONTIAC NOTES & QUOTES 1998 PIONEER KEYSTONE NATIONALS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1998 READING, PENNSYLVANIA
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird) We never call the extra work overtime, we just do whatever it takes to get the job done. No. 1 qualifier -- 6.940ET(track record) / 198.36MPH (track record)
How confident were you that you could go all the way to No. 1? Just as confident as we were on the first pass, but confidence doesn't usually get it done though. Preparation gets it done! We ran into some clutch stuff that didn't work out so we reverted back to some of the stuff that we used earlier in the year at Gainesville.
Did you have to change engines? We ran both engines today on the GM Goodwrench Firebird just to see what the difference was, and there really was no significant difference.
How important is it to be at the top of the ladder? We have to put it in proper order. It's $3000 worth of importance to start with. Then it's important to be qualified on the opposite side of the ladder of Kurt (Johnson), in that order.
Was there much difference in the lanes? There are a few bumps at different points on the track, but I think overall that the lanes are pretty compatible. If we get sunshine on it tomorrow, that may affect it -- I don't know. There are really no bald spots on the starting line now. Whether that will surface if we get some sunshine, only time will tell.
We're starting to go back to some of the race tracks that will yield all 6-second fields. Do you feel that favors your setup? It usually does, but at the same time, a lot of the other teams have picked up their performance potential. Only time will tell whether they will be able to run close to us on the good tracks as opposed at the beginning of the year, when there was a spread in the performance. Overall, when you look at top to bottom of the qualifying ladder, there was only a difference of five hundredths of a second. It was seven to eight hundredths of a second at the beginning of the year. A lot of that has to do with the lanes being pretty equal, where every body has a shot at it without having lanes determine who is going to qualify.
At what point do you start preparing for next year? We've already started doing that. We're not doing something froggy that will hurt our possibility of qualifying, but we're trying different stuff at this time -- stuff that's not going to hurt us. We have to have an ongoing R & D program anyway. These conditions are going to be similar to the conditions that we experience during the first third of the year next year, so we might as well take advantage of it as test time.
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) We finally got enough clutch in the car and had a great No. 1 60-foot time. The Splitfire/Peak Firebird felt like it was really starting to go somewhere, but then the car started missing at the top of every gear. We came back and replaced all the electrical components in the car. Hopefully we found out what was wrong. I think we can step up this afternoon if the weather cooperates. The track is just excellent today. I don't know if we can run a 6.94; that was pretty good run by Warren, but I think we can run a 6.95. No. 8 qualifier -- 6.965ET / 196.67MPH
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) Three pretty good runs in row. That's what we call amazing. We jumped all the way to No. 3 during the morning session but unfortunately we didn't get a computer readout to tell us where we could have improved. The run was very good, and it went nice and straight. It moved around a little bit in third gear when we hit the bumps, but the Summit Racing Firebird was hauling down the race track. We made a couple of changes this morning that seemed to pick it up on the back half. We didn't run very good speed last night and we did improve in that area this morning. We're pretty excited and feel that we're moving in the right direction. We're looking for that consistency that will keep us competitive tomorrow. I still think there's a little bit in it. I'd love to run a high 6.94, but I'm not so sure that we have that much left in it. It depends what happens with the race track. If it stays cloudy, it will still be real fast this afternoon. If the sun comes out, it could make it a little trickier. There are a lot of good cars behind us that can run as fast if not faster than us. We just have to hope that we continue to hit it and they don't. We'd love to come out tomorrow as the No. 3 qualifier. We've come out and been as consistent with this car as we've been all year. We've made three very good passes that have been better with each run. That gives us a little bit of confidence too heading into tomorrow.
No. 5 qualifier -- 6.956ET / 197.19MPH
George Marnell (Tenneco Pontiac Firebird) We made a pretty good run for the lane we were in and probably should have gone at least a 6.96. We just didn't have enough clutch in the Tenneco Firebird, and we may have underestimated the track a little. The air will be the big factor for tonight's session and if it stays the same, we should be able to run that 6.96 that we anticipated this morning. No. 10 qualifier -- 6.973ET / 196.63MPH
Cruz Pedregon (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) That first run this morning was really a good one. Wes (Cerny) and I talked after I came back and he was pretty happy. He's making changes trying to do some things with the Interstate Batteries Firebird, and it's doing exactly what he wants it to do. Even though the numbers are close to what we ran last night, there are some things he's doing with the car that will help us in the long run. Again, it was a great run, we got the speed up a little bit, and the car had better incremental numbers than we've had all weekend. Who knows? We're not far from that 4.99 elapsed time and maybe we can go out there and get that low ET. That would be a nice birthday present to myself and I'm sure Wes would be equally excited as well. No. 6 qualifier -- 5.029ET / 290.22MPH
Del Worsham (Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) Well, the last shot wonders do it again. This time you could say we had an excuse and we weren't just out there getting lost for three sessions. We've been trying out a new clutch system. It was really coming around, but we need more laps on it, and dad made the call to put the old standard clutch back in for this final shot. I don't know when we'll try it again. We may stay here and test, we may go somewhere else and test, or we may put it in tomorrow and win the race. We have to make a decision, but right now, all I'm thinking about is the relief of being able to take one shot as this, putting what we felt was a 5.0 tune-up in it, and then driving this Firebird to a 5.09 when we really needed it. I'm calling a halt to this last shot stuff for now. I hope it's OK with everyone if we just start doing boring stuff like getting a good lap on Friday and tuning the car up from there on Saturday. No. 8 qualifier -- 5.093ET / 283.55MPH
Randy Anderson (Parts America Pontiac Firebird) The Parts America Firebird was running great that time, but put out a cylinder, broke the blower belt and still turned in a 5.14. Jim's (Dunn) sneaking up on the setup on this car that's for sure. We ran our best 60 foot time ever, and our time at 330 was better than the 4.96 that we ran at Indianapolis. And that was without a cylinder! One more run on this race track today, and I think we'll have it figured out for tomorrow. No. 10 qualifier -- 5.149ET / 256.99MPH
Al Hofmann (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird) We were kind of nervous about the run, so I grabbed the brake and probably scrubbed off a little time on the GM Performance Parts Firebird. We might have run a 5.08, but that's OK, where in. This last round stuff is starting to take it's toll on me and everyone on the team. Tomorrow we're just going to try and go some rounds. We need to get our hands on some of those available points to see if we can't climb a little bit farther up into the top-10. I think we have a good handle on it for race day. This is the first time it's gone to the end since we've been here. After what we went through at Indy, running a 5.09 is like running a 4.80 right now. We've put the clutch discs that we used at the beginning of the year in the car and it turned into it's old self. With the help of General Motors and Pontiac, we're going to get some help in trying to do something about this clutch disc problem, and we can't wait. No. 9 qualifier -- 5.098ET / 282.75MPH
Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) Our first run today was just a one magneto run. The computer shows that we had just the one mag, but we really don't know if it didn't work or if it just didn't pick up. We didn't have rpm at the hit, or anything else it needed. That's all right though. It's better to have it die on us today than tomorrow. I'm always confident that the JCIT Firebird will go down the track and it will be fine for this afternoon's run and tomorrow. This is not the Maple Grove we've seen before and I think that's throwing everybody for a loop. My guys have it figured out and one more run down the track will have us running even quicker. No. 4 qualifier -- 5.016ET / 295.56MPH
Cory McClenathan (McDonald's/Pontiac) Of course, we're going to come out on the first pass and be conservative realizing that Scelzi and Amato have been going for the throat lately. We figured that last night the McDonald's/Pontiac just didn't want to make it. It just didn't run down through there the way we wanted it to. It was close, but no cigar. We came right back this morning, tried to back it off and ran the 4.65. We were confident with that. At Indy, we made a number of consistent runs and then fell off on race day. We're just going to try to do a little better each time, and come out this afternoon and run a 4.62. Hopefully we can step up to a high 4.50s tomorrow. The track is going to get better with each pass. I'm pretty sure that it's going to take a low 4.60 or high 4.50 to win tomorrow. As far as getting through the day, a 4.62 or 4.63 will do the job, but for the final, you may have to reach down deep for a 4..58 or 4.59. No. 7 qualifier -- 4.651ET / 305.49MPH