Richmond Pontiac Racing final report

DINWIDDIE, Va. (April 30, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 6th annual NHRA Nationals were completed today at Virginia Motorsports Park. The next stop on the schedule is the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at...

DINWIDDIE, Va. (April 30, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 6th annual NHRA Nationals were completed today at Virginia Motorsports Park.

The next stop on the schedule is the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on May 4 - 7. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on TNN on Sunday, May 7 beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.


Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "We're trying to run our side of the racetrack. I'm really impressed with how fast this Splitfire Pontiac is running right now. I think this crew has done a great job of coming together and all I can say is that we were better than everyone else but Jegs this weekend. If we go to the finals enough times we're going to win some races. They're doing a great job and are on a roll. I've been there before so I know what it's like. We just have to focus on our program, and figure out how to pick up a thousandth of a second here and a thousandth of a second there. If we put enough thousandths of a second together then we can get the win light at the other end. We struggled early in the year and there's nothing that says they won't have their problems as well. When they do we need to be ready to take advantage of that and pick up some rounds.

How would you sum up the weekend? "Having back to back wins would be a lot better. What we're doing is gaining rounds of eliminations - going four rounds on Sunday just like the Coughlins so that we're learning more about the racetrack. We're learning more about how to tune the car, and even though we made some mistakes today we came out pretty well. We ran really consistent, 6.90s in both lanes and 6.90 in the final in what many considered to be the bad lane. Our crew is working very well and we have potential. When I started calling the shots on the car a couple of races ago I didn't feel very comfortable. I changed the four-link around after I ran Jamie and the car really responded - it picked up a couple of hundredths. I'm learning more about what the window is and I'm getting better. This was the best weekend we ever had here. There's a lot of extra pressure because of the fans, because of our customers, because of our employees and our family. Generally we don't do well in that situation and this weekend we did. I'm really enthusiastic about going to Atlanta with these two Firebirds. We have a potent stable of cars right now and we're ready to go."

On racing Jamie Yates. "It's scary running against that kid (Jamie Yates). He's young, he's good on the tree and he's done a good job each time I've raced him. There's no holds barred with him - he's doing everything he can to beat me. The one thing that hurts him is that he has to call more of his own shots when we're racing against each other. He allows the fervor of the moment to kind of get him excited which I've learned not to do, but sometimes maybe I need to do that more often. Maybe if I got a little more excited I would do a better job. He's doing a good job right now, his car's really fast and he's been consistent getting it down the racetrack. It's scary because I know how fast he can run. It sort of worries you when you have to run him because you know how much potential he has. If he gets it all to the track you're going to go home early. We were side by side at the 330 and I could see he had a fender on me. Then I could see him moving around drifting out of the groove. That lane is a little rough if you get our of the groove. I've been fortunate that my car has gone straight down the middle all weekend. My car was a little better on the bumps than his car."

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "We just had a hard time getting the car to go over the bumps on the track, it's as simple as that. We didn't back the car down far enough to get down that type of racetrack and the car got out of control. It's not that there was anything broken the car, it was just the fact that we didn't make the car soft enough to adjust for the track condition. Everybody has to deal with it but the more power you have the worse it gets."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We've been fighting some sort of bug here all weekend. We just don't know what it is. My family is sick at home and it's like our racecar is sick. We just haven't been able to make the kind of runs that have made this Summit Racing Firebird so competitive this year. The car hasn't been running to the eighth mile, so we've changed about everything in the car other than the engine. We're going to test tomorrow to see if we can find what it is. We didn't run that great in Atlanta with this car last week and we thought we had some other issues. It also didn't help matters to have a rough racetrack. NHRA knew that this place was a problem last year. There is no reason why they should be pouring concrete a week before a race. They should have plenty of time to get it down, and if it was rough they could've had it grounded. It's very disappointing for us as racers when we spend so much money to be out here. We want to put on a good show for our fans, and our sponsors and then your performance is determined by how well you drive over bumps. We've been having such a good year that the last thing I wanted to do was go out in the first round. It was a good drag race, Richie (Stevens) did a heckuva job and left on me. He had the best light of the round, and mine wasn't bad but it wasn't good enough. I'm hoping that by testing here tomorrow we can put our finger on it. I got a good group of guys here and we'll get it figured out."

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "You're never happy when you lose, but I think we have things back on track. We made a good run to qualify and backed that up with a solid effort in the first round. To be honest, our pass against KJ in the second round wasn't that bad. It could have been faster, but it wasn't. The good thing is that we know why. If we had been fortunate enough to advance to the next round, I guarantee we would have improved. I really don't think lane choice was a deciding factor. The left lane was definitely better, but I could have won in the right. Although that same run would have won on the left, it wasn't a one-lane racetrack out there today like we had in Houston. He had the advantage of the better lane, but he ran quicker in the first round and earned it. We're going to stay and test on Monday to see if we can't get the Century 21 Firebird top handle the bumps a little better. After that, it's on to Atlanta, and quite frankly, we can't wait."

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "This was a great weekend for the Valspar Pontiac Firebird team. We started the day from the No. 9 spot in the qualifying field and beat two great drivers. Reaching the semifinals makes for a pretty good outing in my book. Sure we want to win but Yates just has more power than we do right now. He deserved to take that one. He jumped right in there and staged. But I didn't let it bother me. I went through my normal routine but then rolled in a little deep. I didn't want to jump the light so I kind of waited on it. We left together (.001 apart) but he just pulled away. "We jumped up two spots today and I feel like the team is on a roll as we head to Atlanta for next weekend's race. We're ready to go. Friday can't get here fast enough."

Jamie Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I was right with him (Jim Yates) at 330, and with the way our Splitfire Pontiac Firebird's been running, we probably would've gone around him. The car was shaking, got out to the right and I probably drove it too far, but it was still a good day. I'm disappointed though. We had an opportunity to go some rounds, move up in the points and let one get away. We did a good job. We worked hard all weekend and the results show it. With the way we ran on Friday night, it felt good to come back, run strong yesterday and then win a round today. Our goal is to break into the top 10. Hopefully when we get to Atlanta, the driver will be on and the car will be ready to go. We'll have our good motor back and I can't wait."


Al Hofmann (Jim Dunn's Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "It's like we said at the last race, we need to step up. We hurt another four-disc clutch on our qualifying run, so we put the five-disc in for the last qualifying run and it's showing some promise. It ran a 4.96 on the third run, now we'll just get after it. We only have three runs on this clutch so we were pleased with what it showed us. We know how to run it, we just have to make a lot of power - it doesn't want to hear 'let's run easy.' We're not running easy this year but we're happy with it. All we have to get it to do is MPH. We haven't made enough runs where we're happy with the first 660 feet to worry about running 312. If it won't run the first 660 feet good why worry about the last 660? At Atlanta we should be looking pretty good. Force beat us today but he had to race us all the way down the track. The Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird had good throttle response and all in all we can't complain. I'm just happy with the weekend overall. We're back in the top 10, the car's running back where it should be and when you race John Force he's going to throw the kitchen sink at you. I went up there trying to win and it was a good drag race - you can't ask for much more than that. This Firebird is an awesome car and we'll just keep moving forward. John (Force) and I have been battling for years so my adrenaline gets up a little when I'm racing him. This whole Jim Dunn team has done a heckuva job."

Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "We came here missing parts that hadn't been delivered. When we got here we had so much stuff to do that we missed the one run on Friday, and who knows, one more run and the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird might have been able to make the program. We were ready to go Friday night but I don't know if the track would have been ready for us. After the rain it got very cold, but we still would have made an attempt just to see where the car was, and to try and sort things out with our new parts. We'll go to Atlanta and see if we can't do any good there. We have everything changed that needed to be changed. We'll try it there and see what happens. We can't figure out why the car is smoking the tires because we haven't changed anything from when it was running good. Sometime when we were making our big overhaul we missed something, but we'll find it. We're using the body we had after Indy last season, and hopefully by Joliet we'll see another Mad ugly car. That is our hometown track, but with all of the races coming up that will be a hard deadline to meet. If not there, you'll still see a different Mad Firebird out there sometime this year."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "There aren't too many times when I'm depressed after losing, but this is pretty much one of those times. We fixed the problem that messed us up in qualifying, and ran one of our better front-half laps of the year. The car drifted left on me though, and was getting out of the groove so I had to do a real quick pedal jobto keep it from smoking the tires. Even with that, I didn't see him until after halftrack. In reality, we didn't lose this round so much today as we did yesterday by putting ourselves in the desperate position qualifying. We shouldn't have to run Jerry Toliver in round one, we should have qualified better. But we figured it out, we ran well and the car behaved again. But Frankie and Dave Fletcher picked up the ball and ran with it. This is why we have two cars. It's ultra-cool to see another car of ours win - that's the first time."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I was really focussed up there today. I woke this morning full of confidence in this team. As it turned out, Tony (Pedregon) must have been focussed too because we both left with really good reaction times. But we just went straight down there and I never saw him. It felt so good to win - it really didn't matter who was in the other lane. Now we get Toliver in round two, so maybe we can fight the fight another time and keep carrying the ball for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac team."

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "It wasn't a bad weekend for us. We got the Pontiac Firebird to go down the racetrack on almost every lap. On our last lap today we were on our best run ever and threw the belt off again. We ran 2.33 to the 330 and had five-hundredths of a second on Cannon at that point. We were looking at running somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4.92 or 4.93. It makes it tough to lose a race like that. We're having a problem with these blower belts because it's been doing this now for the last couple of races. That was only our third run with that belt. We're going to Atlanta right where we left off here. The car is starting to run pretty good so we won't change a thing. Once we get beyond the belt problem, then we can start tuning the car up. And once we get down the track several times on a consistent basis then we can put the old Alan Johnson mojo to it."


Dan Fletcher (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "Actually we struggled all weekend. Everything I own broke and it's a good thing it's over because I'm out of spare parts. Fortunately everything worked out. I had to put a transmission torque converter in on Thursday and the first run today, right in the lights this thing sounded like it blew up -- the ignition box blew up and quit. But the Summit Racing Firebird ran good all day. It worked real well and fortunately some of the guys turned a red light for me when I needed it. It wasn't one of the easier weekends of my life that's a fact, but now we're in the winner's circle and it's the first time I've been able to do it with this fine Firebird. It's a good racecar, but up until today I've let it down. Today we got the job done."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Dale Creasy Jr. , Tom Martino , Jerry Toliver , Dan Fletcher