Sears Point: Pontiac Racing qualifying

SONOMA, Calif. (August 5, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual FRAM Autolite Nationals were completed today at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus ...

SONOMA, Calif. (August 5, 2000) - Qualifying for the 13th annual FRAM Autolite Nationals were completed today at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson is the No. 1 qualifier in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time of 6.896 seconds at 200.53 mph. Ron Krisher holds on to the No. 2 position in the Eagle One Firebird, Allen Johnson is qualified third, Kurt Johnson is fourth, and Tom Martino is qualified fifth in the Century 21 Pontiac Firebird. Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird is qualified 12th, Jim Yates is 14th, Richie Stevens was 19th, Brad Jeter was 22nd, and Bruce Allen was 24th.

In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.955 seconds at 308.21mph. John Force is qualified second, Bruce Sarver's Pontiac Firebird is third, Tony Pedregon is fourth and Jim Epler is fifth. Del Worsham is qualified seventh in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird, Cruz Pedregon is 11th, Gary Densham is 12th, Al Hofmann is 14th, Tommy Johnson Jr. is 15th, and Dale Creasy Jr. is 16th. Jerry Toliver was 17th and Frank Pedregon was 18th.

In Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi holds on to the top qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 4.634 seconds at 310.98mph. Doug Kalitta is second, Bob Vandergriff is third, Tim Gibson is fourth and Larry Dixon is fifth. Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Pontiac Dragster qualified 10th and will take on Don Lampus in the first round of final eliminations.

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "This track's concrete starting line pad is one of the shortest on the circuit, and that's probably why so many teams missed on the initial setup - including us. We can only pour on the power for the first 100 feet of the run because after the car comes off the concrete it's extremely loose for the next 1,220 feet. The car was dancing and skating on the 6.89 run, but it stayed straight enough to keep it between the goal posts.

"This morning we used a very soft setup because we simply wanted to get down the right lane in case we have to run on that side in eliminations. It appears that the cars start shaking the tires ten or 15 feet off the starting line in the right lane, and then the driver over-corrects and gets into trouble. We know that we can run a little quicker in the right lane if we have to, but it's very easy to step over the edge. We slipped the clutch hard on that run - it didn't turn blue, but it got hot enough to heat treat the metal." No. 1 qualifier - 6.896ET/200.53mph

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "I am not feeling real good right now with how things are going. Obviously we're having a lot of the same problems others are. We can't get this car through second and third gear; it's just terrible. I mean as bad of runs we are making, and as fast as we are running we are lucky to be in the show. We know there are a lot of other guys out there that can run faster including us but we've got to get down the racetrack. It's a tricky one --by far the trickiest one this year. We've got to step up here to get this Summit Racing Firebird qualified in the top half of the field. It's not one of our better facilities to be at. It's beautiful country but not a good racetrack." No. 12 qualifier - 6.987ET/197.88mph

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "The Eagle One Firebird ran good this morning. We were just trying things in that last session. It obviously didn't help, but we will be okay tomorrow. We're going to have to take about 200 pounds of clutch out! I don't know what's the matter but we have plenty of clutch. I feel pretty good about tomorrow. We're just going to have to hold lane choice, because there is not right lane. I think we're pretty close to a good set up for this track. " No. 2 qualifier - 6.922ET/200.14 mph

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "Based on the mile-per-hour we're going, and how we're running on the back we've got a lot of power. The problem we have is adapting it to the racetrack. We're not doing a good job at all. The Splitfire/Peak Firebird works really good in low gear, and then as soon as you put it in second gear it shakes out of control. This is the first time we've run into this with this car. I think it's just a matter of being too aggressive. Most of the cars I've seen are pretty soft in low gear. We realize that, and we've tried to back down but the car is staying one step ahead of us every time. We still spin the tires, we just can't gain any ground on it. The lane of choice is the left lane, but I'm confident we can get down the track in the right lane. We just need to get through second gear before we can win in either lane. We just have to figure out how to get the car and the power under control in low gear. No. 14 qualifier - 6.999ET/198.90mph

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "We really had our back against the wall on this one. Although I've seen it happen a couple of times throughout my career, I've never had a wishbone snap like ours did last night. As if that wasn't enough, when the rear end kicked back and forth in took out the driveshaft as well. With the amount of work we had to do, it was an accomplishment just making it to the line for this morning's session, but we knew it would probably be our best shot oat making the field. I think it's a real testament to this entire Century 21 crew that not only we were able to get our Firebird ready for this morning's session, but to run so well and get in the show. Ironically, I think we found some things in our car while we were fixing it that my have been causing us some of the problems we'd been fighting for the last few races. Hopefully, this is the start of good things for us." No. 5 qualifier - 6.953ET/198.79mph

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We're going to try and clean up what we did this morning. We made a lot of car changes and we missed the clutch. So we're going to leave the Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird the same and try and get the clutch closer. With the bump being a 7.01 if we make a decent run we should be able to get in. If we don't - we won't. It's that simple. We're really struggling with trying to keep up with what's going on. We're struggling with the setup and when you're not happy with how you're doing, you have a tendency to change all of the time and try and do better. Unfortunately that is what we're doing and we're just not getting back to where we can put it back to how it was when that's not good enough to keep going. Now were back where we were. If the conditions stay decent, and it's late enough when we run we will probably be able to get in. But it's really frustrating to be doing so poorly when we have good parts and a good car. It eats you up. I do feel confident getting the car in tonight. The conditions are good enough; it's just if we can match up our clutch, chassis and transmission setup to what the track requires. We will just have to keep a good eye on it and hope for the best. It's frustrating on us because we're doing this on a regular basis. We struggle and struggle and then we make a run and get in, then we struggle. It's just frustrating!" No. 24 qualifier - 7.043ET/198.17mph

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "I think we found our problem. What it's been is the carburetor, which is what I've been saying for two or three races. We put a new set on this last run, and we've kind of been chasing the carburetor with the clutch, so we kept putting more clutch in and nothing was happening. We finally changed the carburetor on the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird and it had too much clutch in it. So it shook. We knew that was probably going to happen, but it's been done and we're going to tune it accordingly and hopefully we can make a good enough run to get in. Getting in the field depends on tonight's weather. We usually have one real good session we can get in, two mediocre sessions to try and get in and one bad one. I'm afraid tonight might be the bad one. We're just going to have to wait it out and see. No. 22 qualifier - 7.030ET/196.87mph

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "This Western Swing feels like the rollercoaster ride I took the other day at the amusement park. We were so down after not qualifying in Denver and then we turned around and won the next race. Then we came in here on such a high note and end up going home early. We're just up and down and all over the place. I can't say I came in here expecting to win again but I sure didn't come in here expecting to not qualify. We switched back to our old car in Seattle and it ran so strong and consistent with our own motor under the hood. We kept everything the same, pretty much, because the tracks are about the same. But we never found a handle on this one until the last lap and by then it was too late. You won't find too many laps as close to perfect as the last one we had. It was just a little too hot to put up a good enough time. I guess I could sit here and complain about the track and how terrible it was but 18 other cars ran quicker than we did so I can't make any excuses. We just didn't get it done this weekend. It seems like all the ground we gained in Seattle is being taken back right now. We're pretty bummed out."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm pretty confident that I will get in the show tonight with the Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird. I'm very confident in Jim Dunn and know he will do all it takes to try and get me in. He keeps me in suspense sometimes but I trust him completely and love racing with him. This track is just hard to get a handle on."

After second session: "I knew Jim Dunn would get it done. He is amazing. I am very happy for Mooneyes, Red Line Oil and Pontiac. Getting in the show is a great deal. This is a tough track, and Jim got it done. I knew our team would. I think very highly of all of them." No. 14 qualifier - 5.261ET/282.95mph

Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird) - "We didn't qualify. "We still have nine events to go and have plenty of time left to make up any lost ground we might lose tomorrow. It's early in the third quarter and we have to go into the next race and continue on. We're staying focused on the grand prize and we're not about to let one race prevent us from that."

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - We're feeling pretty good about tomorrow. The last run we put a race set up on and we ran a 5.06. It was nice and smooth and we have room to play with it. We were in the right lane too, so if we had been in the left lane we would've gone even faster. We're going to go up there first round tomorrow and try and run smoothly. " No. 3 qualifier - 5.007ET/302.48mph

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "Whew! We made it! We have nothing to lose. Once again we are at the bottom of the field but we're in. Once you get in you can always go from there. We've learned some stuff the last two runs. That last run I shut off a little early or it would've run a little quicker. We're just going to roll the dice as far as what we've learned. It needs a lot more clutch, but we'll probably gamble in an area or two and see what we can do. I'm facing John Force first round and I would probably be Jerry Toliver's hero if I beat him. We will do well tomorrow, I am looking forward to it. I guarantee all eyes will be on us first round." No. 15 qualifier - 5.273ET/286.07mph

Cruz Pedregon (Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird) -  "There wasn't much to talk 
about on that run.  It slowed down from last night.  It spun the tires real 
hard about 3.1 seconds into the run.  We feel good that the 5.17 we ran with 
the Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird will stay in the show.  But we're trying 
stuff to try and better that 5.17.  We thought we had a pretty good set up, 
but the motor revved up a little more and the early numbers were slower.  It 
was sluggish leaving and moved over a little bit out of the groove.  I still 
think I am a little rusty on my driving.  I just need to get more acclimated 
and get some more runs on this car.  No. 11 qualifier - 5.170ET/291.51mph

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We thought we had it plenty safe but it was not going to make it past that spot, I felt the tires start to spin and lifted. We absolutely can't rest on our position, because this kind of weather is what we've got to deal with on race day tomorrow. We need to go to bed tonight knowing we can get our Pontiac down the track in the sun and heat. We'll put the brain trust together and work on it for the last session. This last one should be the hottest and sunniest one of the bunch, so it will be a great test for us. We've got the best collection of brains we've ever had right now. With my dad, Dave Fletcher, Rob Flynn and now Chris Cunningham here helping us out, we've got a bit of an all-star team in the pit. Chris has been Rob's key assistant for a number of years, and he came in to give us a hand this weekend. We all need to figure this place out." No. 7 qualifier - 5.108ET/296.50

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, this is the first time this year that we've been in this spot, outside the field and having to get in on the last shot. This is a tricky track here at Sears Point, and I don't mean it's a bad track, it's just really a handful to figure out. When we're on a track that's just plain bad you just kind of throw your hands in the air and roll the dice. Getting down this track can be done; we've seen cars do it. But there are some pretty stout cars outside the field right now, including Hofmann, Toliver, and us. We've got to make it on this last pass, plain and simple. With the talent we have, I'm confident I'm going for a good ride on this last one." No. 18 qualifier - 5.315ET/279.61mph

Dale Creasy Jr. (MAD Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "I don't have any feelings either way about taking Jerry Toliver out with the MAD Magazine Pontiac Firebird. All I was concerned with was our race team. We knew it was going to be tough because we hadn't run real well all weekend. But once I hit the gas I was going. Something started sparking and I thought 'oh man.' I had two choices, I could either not pay attention to it and keep going, or shut it off, and I wasn't going to shut it off. Things worked out real well for us. This couldn't have happened at a better time. I don't want it to get to me too much because tomorrow is another day of racing. But right now I'm pretty proud of my team and what we've done. Tomorrow we're going to race our own race the way we know we can. Whit (Bazemore) is going to have to beat me to the finish line." No. 16 qualifier - 5.296ET/278.63mph

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "For us to stay in the show all depends on the weather. If it gets real hot everyone is going to be struggling on that last run. We need to step up a little bit with the NEC Pontiac Firebird, and I think we can. It's hard to negotiate this track since it's so edgy. It's pretty good down track, the problem is we've only got 100 feet of concrete and it gets a little slippery from 100 feet to 3-400 feet, when you are trying to make a lot of ET. We were probably a little too soft on that one but we were desperate and needed to get in, so that's what we did. Tonight we will try and give it our best shot." No. 12 qualifier - 5.220ET/293.15mph

Cory McClenathan (MBNA Pontiac Dragster) - "My team did an awesome job today. We needed to be able to go down the track in both lanes and that is what we did. This track is very tricky and my team adjusted very nicely. Tomorrow could be a good day for Joe Gibbs Racing. This MBNA/Pontiac dragster is capable of doing very well. We will just have to wait and see how the conditions are going to be tomorrow. Whatever they are I know my team and I will be ready." No. 10 qualifier - 4.759ET/307.30mph

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Allen Johnson , Don Lampus , Tim Gibson , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Tommy Johnson Jr.
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing