Seattle: Pontiac Race Friday qualifying

SEATTLE (July 28, 2000) - Qualifying for the Prolong Superlubricants Northwest Nationals got underway today at Seattle International Raceway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed...

SEATTLE (July 28, 2000) - Qualifying for the Prolong Superlubricants Northwest Nationals got underway today at Seattle International Raceway. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 6.912 seconds at 198.96 mph. Kurt Johnson is qualified second, Jeg Coughlin is third, Richie Stevens and the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird is fourth and Jim Yates is qualified fifth in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. Bruce Allen is ninth, Mark Pawuk is 10th, Warren Johnson is 11th, Tom Martino is 12th, and Brad Jeter is 18th.

In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore is the No. 1 qualifier in a Camaro with an elapsed time of 4.875 seconds at 306.81mph. John Force is qualified second, Jerry Toliver and the WWF Pontiac Firebird is third, Bruce Sarver is fourth in the e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird and defending event champion Del Worsham is fifth in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird. Frank Pedregon is eighth, Al Hofmann is ninth, Cruz Pedregon is 15th, Gary Densham is 17th, Tommy Johnson Jr. is 19th, and Dale Creasy Jr. is 21st.

In Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi is the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 4.652 seconds at 312.64 mph. Doug Kalitta is second, Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Pontiac dragster is third, Bob Vandergriff is fourth and Tony Schumacher is fifth.

The Prolong Superlubricants Northwest Nationals is the 15th race on the 23-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday July 29, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Television coverage of final elimination's can be seen on Sunday July 30, beginning at 7:00p.m. Eastern.

PRO STOCK

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "We've really been struggling with this car lately. We just don't have the consistency that we had earlier in the year. We're missing our set up. We sure don't need to get in the fourth qualifying session and have to worry about getting in the show. We just missed it going down the track. There looks like there are some cars that are picking up power, about anyone can qualify so we got to get this Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to step up and in the show. I've had success here over the years. I've been in the finals three times, once in 1992, and the track was a lot rougher back then. We just need to get back our consistency have good qualifying sessions and then hopefully go some rounds on race day." No. 10 qualifier - 6.947ET/197.80MPH

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "Kurt (Johnson) has definitely got his car together. It will be a challenge to hold on to the No. 1 position but we do have the power to do it and we certainly have the team to do it. We're just trying to do our best out there with the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. We will have to see which lane is better in the morning, and see if we can hold on to No. 1. I think we can. The track is a little rough and it's hard for the cars to dramatically out run each other out here. The right lane is rough in about third gear, and the left lane is rough in fourth gear. It's so rough that it could almost bounce you out of the car. We got down both lanes pretty good but they both have their moments. The starting line might be a little better on the left side but the transitions; from second to third gears are rough. It's very difficult to make a really fast run -- as fast as you can go on this racetrack right now. That's why the field is so tight. I am 100% confident in both Mike Elliot and Mike Edwards. They do an excellent job. They work as a team; it's two all-stars working together. They are getting me down the track - period!" No. 1 qualifier - 6.912ET/198.96MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "We're real excited. To come out of the trailer and have the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird be fourth best in the session is great. It made a nice run but it still has a lot in it. We were right in the beginning of the session and the track was a little bit green, it should really improve this evening. If the sun stays off it a little more and it cools off a few more degrees, and as the fuel cars keep putting rubber down we should see some really good ET's out there this evening. I'm glad to be back at sea level. We've been predicting that if we got back to sea level maybe we'd run a little better and right now it looks as if our predictions have come true. We just hope it holds up. We changed the motor and everything right back to the way we ran it earlier in the year at Houston. Everything seems to have responded real well. We didn't have enough clutch in it and slipped the clutch a lot on that run. But it got down the track and put up a decent number, we had good speed, which is an indication that we have power. Now we just have to get it down that tricky race track and put up a good number on the scoreboard." No. 5 qualifier - 6.929ET/198.93MPH

Richie Stevens (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "The first round in the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird was awesome. We were in the right lane, which was supposed to be the worst lane out of the two, and we had a really good run. It looked good on the computer. We were the first to go down the track and we are sitting in the number two spot right now. We are happy with that. It's a good way to start off the weekend. We've got a good baseline run and we can go from there and tune on that. Tonight we will be in the better lane and hopefully maybe we can jump up to the top of the board. I am sure that the 6.94 won't hold up so we will need to step up a little bit. It will be a little cooler tonight so we're hoping to have a good run. Being back at sea level is a blessing. We had a horrible outing in Denver, not qualifying. I think the altitude is what threw us off a little bit. We made some mistakes as well. We changed headers on the last run and we shouldn't have done that. But, being back at sea level is great for us and we hope to do well here."

Second Session: "This is a great start for our Valspar Refinish team. We've all been feeling a little down since the last race ( DNQ for the first time in 33 events.) Everyone's been working their tails off to get this Valspar Refinish Firebird back on track as quickly as possible. I'm glad to see our hard work pay off. The track's quick. Lot's of cars are running strong, which makes being up near the top of the ladder even better. I actually short-shifted between first and second gear and again between second and third so I think we can go even quicker tomorrow. We took both cars to Woodburn because we wanted to see which one was the fastest and which one we could count on the most. After the DNQ in Denver we needed to be absolutely sure about everything. It turns out the old car still has some life in it. I really think the new car is a better piece but this one keeps wanting to run fast. It's so consistent. We've been to the Winner's Circle in it a couple of times so I know it's lucky. I hope this change will give us some different results this Sunday. We're sure off to a good start. I love it when we're fast right out of the trailer on Friday because we can relax a little and work on our race day set-up Saturday. It builds your confidence up and puts us a little bit ahead when eliminations start on Sunday. We know we have some ground to make up after Denver." No. 4 qualifier - 6.927ET/197.22MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) - "During this afternoon's run, I decided to shut it off early after suffering a combination of tire shake and getting out of the groove. This evening, we were able to get down the track and record a competitive time, but it wasn't what I would call a good run. The car was moving all over the track, a problem which was somewhat complicated by having the afternoon sun directly in my eyes, making it hard to see the track. Besides that, I still had some tire shake. We have some ideas on what we'd like to adjust for Saturday's session. We look over the data from tonight's run, and make some changes. Hopefully, we'll be able to get the Century 21 Firebird to settle down on this tricky Seattle track, and as a result make better use of our horsepower and get ourselves in the top half of the field for Sunday." No. 12 qualifier - 6.954ET/198.20MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "The Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird made a decent run -- we made it down the racetrack which is our goal every run. We were a little sloppy at the 60-foot but the rest of the track we ran pretty well. From an engine standpoint we ran real well. We just need to do a little better on our power, get it to leave a little better and I think we'll be right there. I think we can run a 6.94 or 6.95, improve our position and be ready to go. I like being back at sea level. We can get more of a standard tune-up on the car and work on it. We were at a disadvantage in Denver. It's so hard to try and find a tune-up for that altitude." No. 9 qualifier - 6.946ET/198.47MPH

FUNNY CAR

Jim Dunn (Crew Chief of the Mooneyes/Red Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "We're trying different combinations and we're going to start another chapter. We thought we'd be safe, but we're putting another combination together, we'll tame it down a little for tomorrow and see if we can get it to where we can work with it. Right now we broke so much stuff that we don't know why or which one broke first. If we knew that, it would help but we broke too much stuff. We just need to bring it down now, get back on the other side of the fence where it's safe and then go from there. Tomorrow we hope to run as good as we did today, but about 30 mph faster and not blow it up. Then we'll get after it for Sunday." No. 9 qualifier - 5.054ET/243.94MPH

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "The first run we were pretty aggressive. We were looking pretty good until about 100 feet and then it smoked the tires. So we backed it down just a little bit for the second session, it ran good until about half-track, hit that bump and it was a handful from then on. We are fourth right now, and we got some good data for tomorrow. Tomorrow should be just as good as today. The track conditions shouldn't change too much. If we get the cloud cover again it should be a pretty good day." No. 4 qualifier - 4.981ET/298.93MPH

Andy Nering (Crew Chief of the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We ran the new 2000 Firebird body today and it obviously needs more power than the old body needed. We went out during the first run, had a pretty good 60-foot and 330 time and the track was pretty bumpy. It's not a good idea to peddle it and get back on it because you could explode. So we came back in the second session and left everything the way it was and the air got a little better. Then we had a little mishap on the starting line, where the guy in the other lane hit the fuel shut off and leaned the motor out instead of turning it on. He came over and apologized to us. He had to abort his run, so they can't let another car on the racetrack when there is another car on the racetrack no matter where it is. So they shut us off. We had the option to pull it back and go later or just go ahead and run, and we decided to go ahead and run. It ran the same numbers it did in the first run but it dropped a cylinder. He pedaled it but couldn't get it to go fast. So we are going to change this thing around tomorrow, we've got two more chances and we are going to hope for the best." No. 19 qualifier - 5.506ET/220.80MPH

Cruz Pedregon (Teller Quick Pontiac Firebird) - " I feel great going into tonight's session. We're qualified eight right now and it's my first time back from a little bit of a down time, regrouping and getting things together. My goal now is to run in the fours. I think the track conditions are coming up and with the cloud cover the traction will be better. We're looking forward to it. We're running here and Sonoma, so we should have a good show for Pontiac. This is the new 2000 Firebird and its got great down force. I am looking forward to trying to get into the fours for the first time this season, and that will give us something more to talk about." No. 15 qualifier - 5.320ET/204.82MPH

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That was one of those 'really lucky or really unlucky' deals. Unlucky because we exploded a bunch of brand new stuff. Lucky because it happened there and not down track at 300 mph. I still don't know what happened, other than it went for three-tenths of a second and then knocked the rods out of it. Faulty parts or something, I really don't know yet. The heads are fine, so it was down in the rods and bearings where it all came apart. Our car was set up just a little more aggressive than Frankie's and he had a great lap, so I figure we would have been right there too. We'll just have to do it tonight."

Second Session: "That's more like it. I knew in my heart we could come right back and do that. You know, we blew it up at the starting line on that first lap and when that happens you have to have complete faith in your team that the car they put under you for the next lap will be perfect. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird was perfect. No problems, nice clean easy lap. This race track is plenty good, and we can go faster." No. 5 qualifier - 4.994 ET/285.77MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I was doing the burn-out and the steering wheel came off in my hands! That's why I stopped so quickly, and I was crooked down there, I couldn't steer. Then I dropped it and you know, you're so strapped in you really can't move around in there so I was reaching down trying to find it and finally got my hands on it. Then, you have to put these things on in a real specific way and I was just stabbing at it trying to get it back on. I was just about to say 'The heck with it' and shut the car off when it clicked back on the stern. Then I was all messed up, hurrying back there and trying to get staged and everything. So what does it do? It flew right down there so nice and easy it was like a drive in the park. What a weird deal though man, it was nuts to be sitting out there trying to figure out what to do if I couldn't get the steering wheel back on. I couldn't pull over, because I couldn't steer! I was just sitting out there on the track going nuts in there. So there you have another first in my career." No. 8 qualifier - 5.051ET/289.20MPH

Dale Creasy Jr. (MAD Magazine Pontiac Firebird) - "The Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird left pretty good but then it smoked the tires. But the good thing is the motor seems like it's happy now, so if we can just improve tonight I think we will be ok. My goal this weekend is to get qualified which has been really hard for us this year. I think if we can qualify we will do well on Sunday." No. 21 qualifier - 8.423ET/100.21MPH

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Mike Edwards