Sears Point: Pontiac Racing Friday notes

SONOMA, Calif. (August 4, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual FRAM Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California got underway today. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson driving the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird set...

SONOMA, Calif. (August 4, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual FRAM Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California got underway today. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson driving the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird set a track record to take the No. 1 qualifying spot. Johnson had an astounding elapsed time of 6.896 seconds at 200.53 mph. Ron Krisher is qualified second in the Eagle One Firebird, Rickie Smith is third, Darrell Alderman is fourth, and Jeg Coughlin is fifth. Mark Pawuk and the Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is qualified seventh, Jim Yates is eighth in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird, Richie Stevens is ninth, Bruce Allen is 13th, Brad Jeter is 18th and Tom Martino is 25th.

In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore took the No. 1 qualifying position in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.955 seconds at 308.21 mph. John Force is qualified second, Bruce Sarver is third in the Pontiac Firebird, Tony Pedregon is fourth, and Scotty Cannon is fifth. Del Worsham and the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird is qualified seventh, Cruz Pedregon is 10th, Jerry Toliver in the WWF Pontiac Firebird is 12th, Al Hofmann is13th, Dale Creasy Jr. is 14th, Tommy Johnson Jr. is 19th, Gary Densham is 21st, and Frank Pedregon is 22nd.

In Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.634 seconds at 310.98 mph. Bob Vandergriff is qualified second, Tim Gibson is third, Larry Dixon is fourth and Doug Herbert is fourth. Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Pontiac Firebird is 15th.

The FRAM Autolite Nationals is the 15th race on the 23-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, August 5, beginning at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Sunday, August 6, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "The track conditions were a little better but obviously the left lane is much better then the right. Early on hardly anyone got down the racetrack. Tonight was a little better. Failure is a real good teacher. Last year I almost didn't qualify here, it was last session that I finally got the car in the show. We went over all our notes from last year and what we did wrong. We based our tune-up on last year's data and the Denver race. We'll just have to wait till tomorrow and see if we can run as good in the right lane. We were towards the end of the session and that helped us, plus the oil down worked to our benefit. I think tomorrow will be good and the track hopefully will be a little bit better. The weather is supposed to be a little hotter tomorrow but the morning session should be good. " No. 1 qualifier - 6.896ET/200.53 mph

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We're in the field with the Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird, that's all that matters. This track is just awful. I mean it's just terrible. We're just going to have to try and make a better run tomorrow and hope the track is in better condition. We should be able to run pretty fast if we can get down the racetrack. I had to run after an oil down in the first session, and I thought that might've hurt me a little bit but not many other cars went down the track either. The left lane is definitely the better lane of the two. We'll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow." No. 7 qualifier - 6.987ET/197.88mph

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "Nasty! Just Nasty! There is absolutely no track! Hardly any of the cars can get down at all. We made a total set-up change, so that was a pretty good run for where we are. We're planning on going out tomorrow morning and moving up. Warren (Johnson) had a good run. But this track is just not good. This track is worse then Seattle. But we just have to adjust. It is giving us a challenge that's for sure. It's pretty dangerous out there. We're all going to have to be careful. But the left lane is better and I am not taking anything away from Warren because he had a great run." No. 2 qualifier- 6.952ET/199.14mph

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "The Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird is definitely running on a string. Now we just need to pick it up a bit because a 7.01 isn't quite good enough for this track. The good news is that we made a pretty good run but there is definitely a lot more in it. I was shaking all the way down that lap and that just scrubs off so much time. I'm already excited about tomorrow because it's really cooled off a lot tonight and we're the first pair out in the morning session. That will be the time to shine and I guarantee we'll be ready to jump up the ladder. The track should be perfect by then because they'll be a bunch more rubber down after tonight's fuel session and we're running early enough that the sun won't have a chance to beat down on it for too long. We'll be fast." No. 10 qualifier - 7.017ET/198.09mph

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird is responding to everything we set it to do. We basically came out of Seattle second round, and made a very minor change, went out here, made a good first run today, and we're going to continue to move on that program. The car seems to be working well. The motor is running excellent. It's just a matter of letting the track cool down a little bit and a get a little more traction out there. I was surprised we made it down the track as bad as it is. That's the worst looking run we've made this year. Period. And we didn't let off of the throttle. The track is everything we thought it would be as far as being bad. If the track comes around we should be able to run faster. That's all we can hope for." No. 8 qualifier - 6.999ET/198.90mph

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "The conditions aren't too good right now. This track typically doesn't have a whole lot of traction. The right lane is bumpy and the left lane is usually greasy. It was pretty hot on the track but the air is real good today. So the conditions are good for racing, but the track was about 125 degrees and that's pretty hot to try and get any traction. So being able to get down the track and get any information is a positive. Tonight we've got a couple of adjustments we're going to make, we're going to get more aggressive and try and get in a good run. We're going to have to run a 6.95 or 6.96 tonight with the Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird. Tomorrow the first session is typically a good session. We're in a little bit of a disadvantage tonight because we're in the right lane, but tomorrow we'll be in the left and we'll try and improve some on tonight, tomorrow morning when we are in that better lane. I look for an improvement tonight and then tomorrow we'll go out there and step on it again." No. 13 qualifier - 7.043ET/198.17mph

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "The conditions of the track are the same as they always are. It's loose, and the air isn't the greatest. Hopefully the track will come around and the air will get better for the next session. Hopefully we will run a little better too with the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird. I think we have the car to get into the top half of the field. We have enough power to qualify, not near enough as I would like but it's good enough to get into the field." No. 18 qualifier - 7.059ET/196.73mph


Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) -"We're going to try and calm the car down and make some changes to get it down the track. That's when I need to come in to play. Alan (Johnson) came up to me before I ran and wanted to make sure that if it did smoke the tires, that I should try and get it down the track so we could be in the back of the pack tonight for qualifying. That's pretty critical and anything we can do to help the situation is good. So basically what we have planned is to calm it down and try and put it on slide mode. We need to slide it down the track. We want to win this thing. Everything looks good, and the car left real good at the line. There just isn't any racetrack out there past 300 feet. Zero!" No. 3 qualifier - 5.007ET/302.48mph

Cruz Pedregon (Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird) - "We're tenth with the Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird and happy with that. We were a little concerned about the track. Our clutch locked up about three-quarters down the track. It's the first time I made it down the track though in this new 2000 Firebird. That's exciting for us. We're going to move on tomorrow and hopefully get a good run in. I don't like to blame tracks because we can all adjust to the conditions. So I was concerned but when I saw that no one could get down the track I knew we just missed it. But tomorrow is a new day and it should be a good session in the morning." No. 10 qualifier - 5.170ET/291.51mph

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Well that was so brutally awful it's hard for any of us to even know where we go from here. Actually, we're pretty sure we have a good idea how to go out there and run something in the high 5.0's or low 5-teens, and that should put you in the show here. The thing is, the track is stout for 60 or so feet, but it drastically goes away after that. The air is so good the cars are making monster power, and we're all running pretty good 60-foot times, but right after that you'll spin them so hard you can barely catch it before it way over-revs. We really don't have much in our database for a track like this, in this kind of air. It's pretty unique. Anyway, I'm thinking we'll be all right tonight, we've got a couple of different ideas to throw at it."

After Second Session: "That was a really tough tuning call. There was no traction out there this afternoon, and your brain was telling you the track would come around when it cooled off, but you're heart was telling you to back it off so you didn't smoke the tires twice. We listened to our heads, though we could have easily run quicker if we were more aggressive. But we threw enough at it to get if from A to B under power and a 5.10 takes a lot of the heat off for tomorrow."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) -"What a deal -- a huge 8.42. And son of a gun, if we could have just shaved 2-seconds off that, we'd be up there in the 7th or 8th spot. I agree with Del, we're going to have to approach this in a unique way, this track is just not like anything else we've been on this year. We need to nurse it down there with a low 5 and go from there. There were some guys out there pedaling it like it was the last session, but we were not going to do that. I have faith that most of the class will figure this deal out in three more runs, and it doesn't pay to be breaking motors to run 5.80. That 5.80 isn't going to get you in, I don't think. And we're not out here to break stuff just for the fun of it." No. 7 qualifier - 5.108ET/ 296.50mph

After Second Session: "We went out there a little more loaded up than Del. None of us was sure what the track could take, so the blue car went out there pretty aggressively and the red car went out a little less on the edge. When we ran, the track just barely couldn't hold it. Had we run 15 minutes later, it might have, but that's just the facts of life so we'll come back out tomorrow and slam it in the show." No. 22 qualifier - 8.421ET/102.92mph

Dale Creasy Jr. (MAD Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "I love the new body on the car! It's a contrast of everything we've had all along. It doesn't have too many funky colors on it either, and I like that. It's great and I think a lot of people enjoy it. I think we are going to have some fun with this. With the opinions that people have of the presidential election coming up, I don't see why MAD won't have a good chance of doing well with this program. It's been a pretty good deal so far. We've got a lot of good sponsors out here, and when everything starts coming together it feels great. T-shirts, and hats, plus buttons and we hope everyone buys it all.

"I doubt the track is going to get a whole lot better because the sun isn't going to get off of it. We're going to have to adjust to it. It's similar to Denver and Seattle but it's shorter because of the way they have the track set up. We just have to do something. We have some ideas and we're going to try them. That run right there we didn't spin the tires and we had it set up right but it was burning up the clutch and I shut it off. It's a good thing I did because it could've broken some major parts and destroyed it. This track is not one of the better ones on the circuit but one thing it does have going for it this weekend is that we've got good weather." No. 14 qualifier - 5.625ET/230.84mph


Cory McClenathan (MBNA Pontiac Dragster) - "It didn't go how we expected it would with the MBNA Pontiac dragster. It was a little to soft at the line. It wasn't too bad until after the 60-foot line and then there is nothing left of the track. The tires shook and that was the end. I don't know if it will get any better tonight. We are going to make some minor adjustments and go out and try again. We can only hope we get lucky enough to get it down the track." No. 15 qualifier - 5.311ET/204.57mph

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Darrell Alderman , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Rickie Smith , Tim Gibson , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Tommy Johnson Jr.