Richmond David Spitzer GMC Sonoma Preview

RICHMOND, Va. (April 20, 2000) - The Pro Stock Trucks return to action at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va., for the NHRA Nationals on April 27-30. Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma driver David Spitzer is hoping to rediscover a...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 20, 2000) - The Pro Stock Trucks return to action at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va., for the NHRA Nationals on April 27-30. Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma driver David Spitzer is hoping to rediscover a bit of the performance magic that carried him into the Winston top 10 after the season's first three races.

At the Mac Tools Gatornationals in March, Spitzer ran career-bests in elapsed time at 7.537 seconds and top speed at 178.05 mph. He came close to winning his first Pro Stock Truck race when he qualified a strong seventh at Gainesville and advanced to the semifinal round before dropping out of eliminations. Combined with a respectable performance at the Winternationals in Pomona, the cylinder-head porter from Steve Schmidt Racing found himself seventh in the Winston points standings. But a pair of qualifying stumbles at Las Vegas and Houston have knocked him out of that elite group of 10 and Spitzer realizes the urgency in getting his program back on track.

The Sixth annual NHRA Nationals presented by Chevrolet is the fifth race on the 14-event NHRA Pro Stock Truck schedule. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on TNN on Sunday, April 30, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Describe your year so far?

"I'd say the Sunnen/Dynagear GMC Sonoma program was off to a good start at Pomona and Gainesville. I don't know what's got us into the trouble we're in now. We started out pretty good and got stronger right away, especially after the first couple of races when we were able to stay in the top 10. After Gainesville I was confident we were on our way to winning us a national event here in the next two or three races. Looking back on Las Vegas, we thought our problem was altitude --the starting line was tricky and we just brushed it off as not getting a handle on our setup. Going to Houston, getting back to sea level and a great racetrack similar to what Gainesville was, we thought we'd be in good shape. We discovered after three different engine changes, even after putting a Grumpy Jenkins engine in, that we had a problem with the truck somewhere - whether it's electrical or fuel related or something. Right now we're in diagnostic mode trying to figure out what's wrong and going through the drill of changing everything."

Is there any one area of the racetrack that you're trying to get a better handle on?

"We've been strong on our 60-foot times, and at the beginning of the season that was an area we were concerned with. Ed Quay has worked on the trucks over the winter, and even at Gainesville on raceday we had the second quickest 60-foot time of the weekend. Scott Perin, who we share a transporter with has had Ed do some work on his truck and the improvement has really shown. Down low we're okay, we just need a little more horsepower and I don't know if it's dyno horsepower or something we're doing at the track. It may be that we don't have a handle on the carburetors or air pan or something because we're still getting outrun depending on the track, two to three hundredths on the back. That two or three hundredths would put us within a hundredth of a second of Panella and Daniels. If we can get the back figured out we'll be looking pretty good."

When the fields are that close, doesn't it give credibility to the old adage that anyone can win on Sunday?

"If you throw out Randy (Daniels) and Panella's qualifying runs at Houston, the field was separated by 44-thousandths of a second - so the truck fields are just as tight as the cars are. We were right there with a 7.59 and with the bump at 7.56, that just shows you how tough it is. A lot of good drivers have a lot of good power and obviously, Daniels and Panella have something figured out that the rest of us don't. It comes down to who can make a good run at the right time, and who has a consistent truck that can run fast in the good sessions."

Are you still confident about your team's chances?

"Absolutely. If we can get our problem fixed we'll at least be a top-eight truck. If we can get to the semifinal round then it's anybody's race. If we can isolate exactly what went wrong at the last two races, then we'll be just fine."

What's the game plan now for Richmond?

"It will probably take all of our time trying to get everything fresh, going through the whole drill and making everything as good as we can make it. Then we'll go to Richmond and see what happens."

What's a typical week like at the shop when you're getting ready for another race?

"It's pretty much flat out until we get ready to load up the trucks. Almost all of the motors come apart with the exception of maybe one or two out of a fleet of eight. They're put into a rotation where one will get a new set of rods, another may get pistons, valve jobs will get touched up that need it, and it's all hands on deck until we leave the following Tuesday."

How difficult is it to prepare for back-to-back events?

"Two in a row doesn't seem to be too bad, but when you start going three in a row that's when it gets difficult. We don't have the depth of a Winston Cup team that may have 30 or 40 motors in rotation and 60-some employees. There just isn't the budget to bring in the manpower to run consecutive weekends like that. Plus you have your best one or two motors, and your goal is to get through the next two or three races without hurting anything. It makes it tough going three in a row, especially for the guys who are out on the road hauling the rigs around, and setting up and tearing down. Most of these teams consist of just four or five guys while a Winston Cup program may have 30 guys on site."

Is there anything you're working on now that will help your program to pick up?

"Right now we're working on some digital ignition stuff to optimize what we have as far as timing curves, and just trying to get a better tune up through dyno work - finding a better set of carburetors that type of stuff. Maybe trying a cam here or a cam there but that's pretty much it."

Do you feel that the GMC Sonoma is a good racetruck?

"Without question. It's like I said before, if we can get the back half figured out we'll be a top-four truck, and when we're racing on Sunday we've proven that we can compete with the top four trucks, if not the top two. Gainesville showed just how good we could be and that we had the capability to compete. That's why it was so frustrating in Las Vegas and then Houston - but more so Houston. I really thought Vegas was a fluke and that we would run well in Houston. Hopefully we'll get this truck figured out and head to Richmond. I'm looking forward to it. Richmond is usually a fast track. I would expect the top eight trucks to be in the 7.40s. I think if the air stays cool like it was last year then I'm pretty positive that you'll need to run in the 7.40s to be in the top half. If we can get this Sonoma to running like it was in Gainesville, then that 7.53 run will wind up being a 7.49 or 7.48."

What's your goal for the rest of the season?

"Just to get qualified and go rounds. We're going to need to do that to get back and stay in the top 10. Eventually, if we can get back to where we were running in Gainesville, we can win us a race. My goal is to qualify at the remaining events and to win a race. Being realistic, I'm confident we can do that. I could taste it in Gainesville we were that close."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Schmidt