Richmond GMC Sonoma Preview

RICHMOND WILL BE FAST AND COMPETITIVE FOR GMC SONOMA RACE TEAM Spitzer Looks To Move To The Front; Jones Looks to Qualify RICHMOND, Va. (April 22, 1999) Now that he's had an opportunity to qualify and race his Dynagear GMC Sonoma at two...

RICHMOND WILL BE FAST AND COMPETITIVE FOR GMC SONOMA RACE TEAM

Spitzer Looks To Move To The Front; Jones Looks to Qualify

RICHMOND, Va. (April 22, 1999) Now that he's had an opportunity to qualify and race his Dynagear GMC Sonoma at two national events, David Spitzer feels that the time has come to make a move forward to the front of the pack -- but it's not going to be easy. After qualifying in the No. 9 position at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., the 30-year-old Indianapolis native qualified 13th at the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston, Tex., in a 35-truck field which was one of the largest in the class since its inception and an indication of the growing competitiveness of the series. "I'd say all in all it's been a pretty good start," said Spitzer. "I think getting in for both races was quite an accomplishment when you consider how the field has tightened up. It looks like there's a handful of trucks that may have a little bit of an edge, and then everybody else from about sixth on down to about 25th have the potential to get in the field. "Right now we're planning on testing in St. Louis before the Richmond race and try to make some more runs. I think we're pretty good on power, we just need the additional runs to keep working on the truck setup. If we can get this Dynagear GMC Sonoma to run to the 330, we'll be in the top-half of the pack for sure. If it does that then it will definitely pick up on the back end. We have plans to work on different shocks, tires, we have another transmission coming with some different gear ratios, and really our focus will be just getting to the 330." During final eliminations at Houston, Spitzer ran his best quarter-mile of the weekend at 7.686 seconds and took an advantage of .029 off the starting line in his first-round matchup with Tim Freeman, but it wasn't enough to offset Freeman's performance advantage with Spitzer losing at the finish line by just fourteen thousandths of a second. At Richmond it won't get any easier with another large truck field expected at a facility known for its lightning quick times and track and air conditions extremely conducive to the naturally-aspirated engines that power these racing machines. "Since the season has started, most of the tracks we've competed on have been pretty good," said Spitzer. "For Richmond, we'll be able to draw on some of the things we've already learned this year because of the similarities we anticipate in the conditions. We'll probably keep the setup pretty close to where it's been for the simple reason that we haven't faced any of the hot, slick conditions that we'll encounter later in the year. We expect that the track and the air will be pretty good and if we're wrong, we'll make the proper adjustments. "I've really enjoyed every minute of this. I can't believe that someone actually gets to do this for a living, and I feel very fortunate that a guy like Steve Schmidt has given me this opportunity. It's also nice having Terry (Adams) already there on Thursday so that he can make any mental notes on whether there's any bite on the starting line or if it's loose downtrack. I think that helps him on Friday when he's deciding on a setup for Steve's Firebird." Rick Jones will enter his RJ Race Cars GMC at his second Pro Stock Truck event. In the three weeks since the O'Reilly Nationals at Houston, Jones has been extremely busy testing his Pro Stock Sonoma and moving his team and chassis-building operation into a new state-of-the-art facility in his Galesburg, Ill., home town. "We got the motor back to John Lingenfelter and they've been tuning it up there," said Jones. "Next week we're going to be testing at St. Louis and hopefully by Tuesday we'll get completely moved into our new shop and things will get back to normal. We're going to work on chassis combination, transmission gearing and clutch combinations with the goal of getting this GMC Sonoma figured out a little better. "For Richmond we'll be changing the gearing, the transmission and we'll be doing some different tuning on the carburetor to adjust for the different air conditions. But actually the surface at St. Louis and at Richmond are very similar, so hopefully after we've run all day next week at Gateway we'll have a better idea of where we need to be to get tuned in for Richmond." At Houston, Jones struggled with a problem that saw his truck shutting down in low gear. After reconciling the situation before the final qualifying session, he improved to an elapsed time of 7.766 seconds but it wasn't good enough to make the 16-truck field. He is confident of a better showing in Virginia. "I think our last pass in Houston when we ran the 7.76, we made a pretty significant move in the right direction," said Jones. "We had a few problems earlier in the weekend, but we managed to get those figured out and corrected and we're confident that we know where to go now." "Everyone is very pumped up at the race shop about this Pro Stock Truck program. In Houston everything seemed to go pretty smooth. We managed to get down the racetrack four times, and we didn't do anything embarrassing but we need to go faster." The Fifth Annual Pennzoil Nationals on April 29-May 2 at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va., is the fourth race on the 14-event NHRA Pro Stock championship tour. Highlights of the Pennzoil Nationals can be seen on TNN on Sunday, May 9, beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Lingenfelter , Tim Freeman , Steve Schmidt