12th ANNUAL AUTOLITE NATIONALS SEARS POINT RACEWAY SONOMA, CALIFORNIA FINAL ELIMINATIONS SUNDAY, AUGUST 8, 1999 PRO STOCK Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) A win is a win is a win. I can't believe how bad the track is. They didn't...
12th ANNUAL AUTOLITE NATIONALS SEARS POINT RACEWAY SONOMA, CALIFORNIA FINAL ELIMINATIONS SUNDAY, AUGUST 8, 1999
Mike Thomas (Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird) A win is a win is a win. I can't believe how bad the track is. They didn't clean up after the nitro guys near enough. There was clutch dust all over the place and I just about wrecked when my tires started spinning in fourth gear. The Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird was on a really nice run too. I guess I should just take the win and not complain. It's too bad it had to be Bruce (Allen) in the other lane. Lost in round two
Bruce Allen (Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird) Hat's off to Mike (Thomas). He did what it took to win. We encountered severe, violent tire shake during the start of that run. The tires were literally spinning right up off the track. This has happened to us a few times already this year and so far we haven't made the right adjustments to overcome the problem. We'll just have to keep plugging away and hope we find an answer. Lost in round one
Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) This is not what we expected. The Summit Racing Firebird ran pretty good in the first round and I thought that maybe we had a chance to cure our second round blues. We haven't been past second round this year. We've just been struggling with this car this weekend because it doesn't like this racetrack. It gets out of control in low gear and we can't get it back. We made a change for the second round that we thought would help, but it was on the edge of shaking the tires in the first run, and it really made a good pass all things considered. We thought we could tune from it, but the car got out of control and there was nothing I could do about it. We'll keep working hard and try to move forward. We haven't qualified at Brainerd in a couple of years so I would like to get that monkey off of my back. There and at Indy we've struggled over the last few years. Hopefully we can keep our qualifying pattern going, get in the top half of the field and just try to go more rounds. Lost in round two
Richie Stevens (Valspar Pontiac Firebird) Who's next? I'm ready to go right now. This Valspar Firebird is finally running like it was earlier in the year. It's so exciting, especially since we're winning rounds with our own engine. I know KJ will be tough. He's been the man to beat all weekend and he's got lane choice. But we're awfully pumped up over here in the Valsapr pits. Lost in round three
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) The Interstate Batteries Firebird is running real well and we'll take that as a promising sign as we leave here. That's just one of those runs where luck wasn't on my side, he took a shot at the tree and I ended up being on the losing end. I'm trying to maintain consistency and do my job the same every time, and I'm doing it, but it just seems that I'm getting bit every now and then. Things are going to turn around here before too long. We'll service everything on this Pontiac before Brainerd and go on from there. The guys are going back to the shop tonight. They've been on the road awhile so they want to take a little time off and regroup. We're just frustrated that the Western swing didn't turn out as well as we would have liked. When we started this tour, we wanted to make a lot of runs on the car and learn and get a lot of experience. On the positive side, we were able to do that. Before they built Topeka and St. Louis, Brainerd used to be my home track. There are a lot of friends and family that come up from Iowa. I've won the divisional race there a lot, and was runner-up in Top Fuel, so it's been a good track for me. I just want to do it again and take advantage of the opportunity to make some more runs. Lost in round one
Del Worsham (Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Pontiac Firebird) I said yesterday that we thre two runs away on Friday and we were having to get qualified from scratch on Saturday, which put us behind. Well, we're not making big huge jumps in performance, but our last three runs have been 5.16, 5.15 and now a 5.13. That would be a good trend in my book. We just have to come back out and step it up a little bit more against Tony (Pedregon) and make this Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Firebird go down the track again. That worked for four rounds in Seattle last weekend and this time there's an extra $100,000 riding on it.
Second round: That stunk. Winning is a pretty cool thing and pretty addictive. It doesn't take long to get used to I can tell you that. I mean, we won five laps in a row and got to the second round here. We're all very disappointed. Just a couple of weeks ago getting to the second round was cause enough for a lot of smiles around here. We got down the track, although I didn't expect we'd slow down like we did. We tuned it up from the combination we used in the first round, but the track was a lot hotter and we didn't have enough for him I guess. Whatever the reason, we lost seven-hundredths from round to round. Lost in round two
Dale Creasy Jr. (Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird) This Mad Magazine Pontiac Firebird was running good today. We went up there with the expectation that it would run a little bit better than yesterday and it pretty much performed the way we expected it to. I left the starting line and I never saw him. At about 500 feet I could see him a little bit, and at about 1000 feet I was actually picking him up. The finish line came a little too soon. I'm disappointed that we lost but I'm not upset. We have a car now that will go down every racetrack and even though we don't know what's going to happen at the next, but at this track we figured it out. We have to go home now and start rebuilding our stuff. We've been on the road now for a month-and-a-half now and we're running low on parts. I'll go back and rebuild the blocks and we'll be ready for Brainerd. It's not that the Western swing is that tough on parts, it's juts that it's difficult to repair things when you're on the road. You just don't have the availability of parts and so it because necessary to fix what we have. Lost in round one
Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California) I have to admit it, we're struggling. The NEC Pontiac Firebird is making great power but we're just a little lost in the clutch department. We're not as consistent early as we need to be as indicated by that last run. I had big holeshot on Jerry (Tolliver), I should have beat him, and then it shook and smoked the tires. I'm hoping that we find the problem real soon. We've made massive changes but it doesn't seem to respond. We get to go home for a week before Brainerd and we'll take a look at every part and piece on this car and hopefully we'll find the problem. As soon as we do, this Firebird is going to be a fast racecar. Lost in round one
Cruz Pedregon (goracing.com Pontiac Firebird) We went up to the starting line with a lot of changes to the goracing.com Pontiac Firebird. Ron (Swearingen) wasn't sure what to expect and we felt that we didn't have any other choice but to make the changes. But we gave it a shot and I didn't really see him until about four or five hundred feet. The important thing is that we're learning as we go but this is only a three-race old team and just to be out here competing says a lot about the hard work that every one has put into this racecar. I'm excited and now our foucs turns to the U.S. Nationals at Indy. That's our next race and we're going to learn from what we did here and try to apply it to the car. We made a really big change and the car did something it hasn't done all weekend and that's make it to the end on all eight cylinders. It was a little weak but that is something we've been working on. I wish that had been our first run on Friday because we could have built from that. It's a step in the right direction because the car went from Point A to Point B.
Do you like being a car owner? I love it, I really do. I get here in the morning and even though I have lot more responsibility, it gives me an opportunity to look at the big picture and what it takes to make this team successful. I've taken a of pride in how this operation turned out and the only thing that's frustrating is starting from the middle of the season instead of taking an entire winter to get ready and make everything right. Lost in round one
Al Hofmann (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) I'm happy with the way this Firebird has run for the last three days. This is the first time in I don't know how long that the car has gone to the end three times in-a-row. We've been working on some different things, Jim Dunn's been helping us out, and if I had to lose to somebody out here then I would rather it be to Jim and his team. There good people over there and it was a heck of a drag race for the fans. At a thousand feet we were side-by-side, my car dropped a cylinder and he got around us, but we couldn't ask for anything more--we had a good weekend. It definitely makes it more enjoyable to come to the track when we're running well. It's nice to step on the gas and have something I can control and drive. I think you'll see a big pick up in the performance of this Pontiac at the next few races. We're going to go to Brainerd and just try to get the car to go to the end again. There are some additional changes we want to make, but if we could run some 5-0's up there then I would be happy. Lost in round one
Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) I think our biggest concern right now is that we're still hurting parts on the MBNA/Pontiac. That's not we want to be doing. It's nice to come here in and qualify fifth and get some Budweiser points back. I saw a couple of guys in front of us go out so that will help us out a little bit. We're going to have to bear down here; I don't want to fall outside the top 10 in points, and that's my biggest fear of all right now. I keep telling everybody that realistically, we can finish in the top five, but it's just a matter of getting with the program. We'll probably go into Brainerd with the same tune up that we used this weekend. The air there won't be as good as it was here so we just may have the right tune up as it stands right now. Cerny's (Wes) going to take some graphs home from this weekend, take a look at them and decide what we need to do. We'll go from there.
Do you feel like you're on the edge of running really well, or do you feel that there's still a lot of work to do? That's the whole thing. I think this weekend we actually showed some progress and confidence in our tune up. We qualified well and won in the first round, but we just kind of missed the boat in the second round. We didn't actually blow up, we smoked the tires and then blew up. Doug (Kalitta) was right next to me so there was no lifting. You just stay in it and hope for the best. Lost in round two