FIFTH ANNUAL PENNZOIL NATIONALS VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK RICHMOND, VIRGINIA MAY 2, 1999 PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We felt that we could have run a 6.81 or a 6.82 out there today, but we just got ...
FIFTH ANNUAL PENNZOIL NATIONALS VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK RICHMOND, VIRGINIA MAY 2, 1999 PRO STOCK
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We felt that we could have run a 6.81 or a 6.82 out there today, but we just got too aggressive and the track wouldn't hold our setup--that's all there is to it. I guess we should have been more conservative, but being conservative has bit us in the past, so we said to heck with it and went for it. Either it was going to be real bad or real good and unfortunately it turned out real bad. Even though it's the first time we haven't won here, it's like I told Nobile - nothing's forever. It's one of those deals where nobody's going to win every race they ever go to at one particular facility. Something eventually will happen to prevent that. What you have to realize is that we had to have a lot of good luck to win those four races here. Something someday is going to against you and that's just the way it is. The g-meter went down to zero when we had the tire shake. It shook all the way through low and was like pulling an anchor. It was shaking the moment I left the clutch out - all the way through low, all the way through second and it never stopped shaking. In fact it was still shaking halfway through third. We were only going 157.17 at the eighth-mile and on the 202 run we were running 160.33. We were 3.2 mile-an-hour slow so add that on to the final number. The GM Goodwrench Firebird would have gone a high 202 or a 203 easily. But this will give Nobile a good boost. This is his second year at this race and he's been qualifying pretty steadily all season.
We made a decent run in the left lane yesterday at 6.89 and nobody got down that lane until late in the session. We felt we had something to work with but it just wasn't to be. The national record stays in our camp with Kurt (Johnson), and now it looks like we pretty much put it out of sight. I don't see anybody running 202 or 6.840 for quite some time. It may be Dallas or Houston later in the year before we see another opportunity like this. The possibility of anyone hitting it again would have to happen under similar conditions but if the track were a little better here we could've been running 6.70s.
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) I was happy with my reaction time because that's something we've been working on. But we have to keep working on that, get the performance of the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird to come around and qualify in the top-half of the field. If we can get that to happen then we'll be in good shape, but it all has to work together. It's hard to go out there in that left lane on a track like this and win no matter how good of a light you cut. Jamie (Yates) ran a 6.92 over there last night and I felt coming in here today that we had a good chance. I figured we could run at least a 6.91 or a 6.90 over there. The weather was better, the track should have been better but something happened - either during the night or while the fuel cars were running because even the Funny Cars weren't getting down it today. There's something from about the 150-foot mark to the 300-foot mark because that's where all the cars were getting loose. The Pro Stock cars that did get through there didn't run very fast; they were just able to shake the tire and get through it. When my car shook it just shot to the centerline. Mike (Thomas) was already ahead of me so there was no reason to keep at it. He made a great run. He went a 6.88 with a zero and combined with his reaction time, no one would have beat him in that session.
Two races back-to-back like this really pushes the equipment hard. So we'll go home, give everything a good going over and get the motors ready to go again. The clutches are all fresh since this is the first race with them. But we may go out and let them out one or two times - just a quick test session before Atlanta. Other than that we're ready to go-- we'd be racing tomorrow if we could. We've now run 200 mph and we were the third fastest car in yesterday's last qualifying session. This DRCE engine has a lot of power up high. We're getting closer and closer to the right tune up for it and it's just a matter of putting it all together. I really thought this was going to be our race. When we came out of the trailer with a 6.89 at 200 mph on the first hit, I thought we were in real good shape. We ran good in that right lane last night, but not good enough to make it into the top-half of the field. This weekend, lane choice was imperative. You take your licking, and go home and hope that next week you have a better shot at it than that.
Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) The weekend started out pretty good for the Dynagear Pontiac camp because after the first session we were qualified fourth. We felt coming in to the race that we had the potential to qualify anywhere from fourth through sixth, but there was such a disparity in the two lanes that the guys who had the left lane Friday night and Saturday morning struggled, and a lot of them didn't qualify. The two times we were in the right lane we made pretty good runs, but not great runs. We had a couple of hundredths left in the last run when we ran a 6.91 in the heat, but we never got a handle on the race track as a lot of guys didn't. We never go to any race expecting any specific type of weather conditions with the exception of the dog days of summer when you already know it's going to be hot. I guess what I didn't expect was that the track was going to be as bad a it was. We've raced here before, gone a lot of rounds and ran real well in the past. We'll chuck this one up to experience and try and rebound for Atlanta. We were tickled to death with how well our GMC Sonoma Pro Stock Truck ran this weekend. It made a lot of progress on race day and David (Spitzer) did a nice job driving. But again, the lane bit him when he didn't have lane choice. In the final qualifying session he was the fourth quickest truck so we're sneaking up on that. We'll just have to do a little better job on down the road.
Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) We left the Century 21 Firebird alone for this morning's first round and we just shook the heck out of it from fourth to fifth gear. Mike (Edwards ) and I were door handle to door handle, but when I put it in fourth gear it started shaking and he drove away from me. Halfway through fifth I began to make it up, but by then he was two hundredths in front of me and that's pretty much the way it ended. I don't like to use lane choice as an excuse because we should have done a better job in qualifying. But it is getting a little tiresome when there's that much difference. One fuel car got down the left lane and only one Pro Stocker and that's because Warren (Johnson) didn't make a good run. We're going to take Monday off. When I get home from work tomorrow night I'm just going to hang out. Starting Tuesday we're going to switch the car over for our new motors and go test. At the same time we'll get to try some different stuff on the car. At least we made four runs where we made good 60-foot and 330-foot times. We haven't been able to do that all year. They're not real pretty but at least I have a little confidence in what this thing will do. FUNNY CAR
Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) As the whole first round happened in front of us, everyone could see the trouble the left lane cars were having. The top half here meant everything in round one and we have no one to blame but ourselves I guess. We ended up a hundredth out of eighth and that meant we needed Burkhart to have trouble for us to have a chance. His 5.12 was beatable, but he got it down the track and that's all he needed to do with us spinning and fishtailing over there on the other side. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird is running well enough to win. We're running better than we ever have in my career, so much better than last year it's not even funny. It just must not be our time yet. I keep thinking we're ready to win, especially to win some more rounds than we have, but for two races now it hasn't happened. I wouldn't even call it bad luck because I don't really believe in that. I think were still learning how to go this fast and do it with regularity. If making progress, going faster and getting more consistent are the ingredients for a winner, then we're a winning team waiting for a chance at the Victory Circle photo session.
Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) We left the Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird alone from yesterday. It was ready to go then. When I got out of the groove yesterday, it had better numbers than we had today. We would have run a 5.15 yesterday, but just to get down that left lane today is quite an accomplishment for anybody. Nobody else could make it and we did. That's been our gameplan all year; don't race the opponent, race the track. That's all we did. We knew if he (Epler) ran his number it would be close. But he got us - he made a good run. We gave it all the lane would take. It was trying to spin the tires but it didn't actually do that until the finish line. If we made it to halftrack, we were going to stay with it no matter what because we felt there was a good chance that he might spin the tires late in the race. They run their stuff so hard that parts give out and we thought we had a good chance. He got to a thousand feet, and I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. They did a great job but I sure want to win. We have to build some motors before Atlanta. We tore up some stuff this weekend. We tore up one motor in Dallas and then we burnt some pistons here. We'll take it home and service it and we'll be ready. The weather played a trick on us this weekend. It's ironic because God gave us the air we've always wanted but we didn't know what to do with it. I guess you need to be careful for what you ask for.