St Louis: Pontiac/GM event notes

MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 4th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals were completed today at Gateway International Raceway PRO STOCK Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "All I can say is - what a day! I ...

MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2000) - Final eliminations for the 4th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals were completed today at Gateway International Raceway


Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "All I can say is - what a day! I have the best team out there in my opinion. Some people may have a different opinion but my opinion is that I have all the best guys. They get me down the race track and have made me a better driver. I have a lot of confidence in myself. When we go back to the pits my team doesn't beat me up on what I did wrong, I go look at what I've done and figure it out. There is no pressure to do better and that helps my driving a lot. They are a terrific group of people and obviously on race day they're awesome. We hope to be able to close the gap in the points standings with Jeg (Coughlin) but I have to tell you, Jeg is an awesome driver and they do a terrific job too. We are going to try and dig into the points lead but they are a good team; professionals, and do a terrific job at every race. The way I look at my reaction time in the final round (perfect .400 reaction time) is one thousandths away from being an idiot. Greg (Anderson) had a great day, and even though I was confident I could out run him, he had had some good reaction times all day while I was struggling. I try two things when I go out to race; I don't want to know who is in the other lane unless I have to, and I mind my own business in my lane because if I don't, I won't drive well. If I don't have a red light, I'm out of there. Most of the time when we hit fourth gear you better be a head of us because the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird will out run you at the other end of the race track. This Firebird is doing a great job. Eagle One has given me a lot of support and I owe a lot to them. I am really happy how my team is doing, they deserve as much credit as I do if not more. They just make it easy on me. It's very exciting!!"

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "Obviously we didn't achieve what we came here to accomplish but when you look at the big picture we moved up in the points race and we gained some knowledge on an unusual racetrack. It took us three rounds to figure out the direction we needed to go and we did pretty well. We just got a little too aggressive in the semi finals and at the same time we got in some stuff on the track and got loose. We felt the GM Goodwrench Service Firebird should have run a 6.93 or 6.94 given the conditions we had. But we hit that stuff and got loose. I left close enough to Greg (Anderson) that we shouldn't have had any trouble winning that round assuming that we made a good run. But assumption is the root of all screw ups. Overall we're happy with what we accomplished and I think we're in good shape.

On the fuel change in the staging lanes. "I thought it was a commendable effort on the part of the NHRA given the fact that they only had x amount of time today to deal with television, the audience, spectators and so forth. They don't have the luxury of time to make the changes they made and they did an excellent job. Plus, it's my understanding that they did it without giving any warning whatsoever that they were going to do it. The element of surprise is what needs to happen. I think they've made the competitors well aware that if there is a problem they can resolve it."

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I think what the NHRA did today regarding the fuel situation was a great move. We talked to them last night, and gave them suggestions that might help and they responded right away. I was very impressed with the way Graham (Light) handled the matter and the whole tech committee. I think they were going to do it during the last qualifying session last night but ran into a few problems trying to get it done. I was thinking this morning that it would be a great idea to do it before first round because you have the top 16 cars out there and it could determine the outcome of the race. They went out there before first round, got it done and my hat goes off to them. I'm happy to see how proactive they've become and the way they've responded to our needs."

Where do you go from here? "We're looking forward to Bristol but we're trying to prepare ourselves for Denver. We seem to have a problem with our combination whether it's our heads, our manifolds, or our carburetor and our combination doesn't run well when we get above a certain altitude. Denver is a high-altitude race track. We're headed that way tomorrow and we're going to spend two or three days there testing trying to get a combination that will get us down the track at that altitude. At Denver you're a mile high with your base altitude, plus with the air conditions you just don't run very fast. You have to change everything in the car and since that's our next points race it's imperative that we do well there. After that we go down to sea-level and run Seattle and Sonoma which we usually run fairly well. We're really going to do our homework to get this Splitfire Pontiac Firebird ready for Denver and try and get a leg up on the competition."

Bruce Allen (Reher Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "We had a real marginal car today. It seemed like when we were in the right lane that we had a hard time getting down through there. Without lane choice we knew we were going to be over there, and although we're happy to have the Reher Morrison Firebird in the race, we obviously needed to have lane choice to have a better chance today. We ran some different transmission ratios to try and get a combination that would win the round. We ran real slow to 60 feet and that hurt us for the rest of the run. I think what the NHRA did today was very promising. There are always questions on whether or not we're all playing from a level field. Anytime the sanctioning body can do something to wipe it clean and give everybody the same thing it is good -- more of that can't hurt. Whether anybody is doing anything or not isn't so much the issue as much as that it takes all of the doubt out of it - which is what you should be doing anyway. The NHRA should be commended - they did a good job, it was a good call. We've talked about fueling the cars in the lanes before and I'm glad they decided to do that. It was a good move."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm a little disappointed but we ran okay. The car got out of the groove in the second round or we would've had a shot at it. This team is running a lot better than it has in years and we moved up another spot in the points standings. We're just going to try and keep this Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird consistent and go on to the next race. Greg's (Anderson) still in and did a great job in the last round - he had a four-oh light. If we could at least get one Summit Racing Pontiac to the final round that would be a victory in itself."

Pawuk on the staging lane fuel change. "We've been pushing that for a long time and I'm glad the NHRA really stepped and did what they said they were going to do. As part of PRO, that was something we wanted to implement and so far it's worked out great. They've been doing some of the things we've asked for, it's great for our class and it's going to ensure us a level playing field."

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We had a good weekend. It came down to matter of lane choice in the first round, and Friday night we made a good pass but it could have been a lot better. The car kind of fluttered over in low gear, and even though we ran a 6.99 we felt we could have run a 6.96 or 6.97. In the last pass we ran seven-flat in the right lane which was the second quickest in the lane and fifth fastest of the session. The air just wasn't good enough last night to improve. Anytime you run Warren Johnson in the first round you know it's going to be tough. We did all we could to get the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird ready to race and came up a little short. We'll go to Bristol, Denver and the rest of them and try to get on it. We'll do some work on the motors to get ready for the west coast swing."


Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird) - "Everyone is making a big thing about me and John (Force), and to be honest with you, I love John Force. He is one of the greatest things that has happened to drag racing and he is a good friend. I love to beat him because that's what we do, we are professionals and we are out here to win. I don't get any hidden pleasure in beating John. I respect him, he's the best out there. He has proven that many times. So anytime you beat John it's good because you have beaten the best in the business. Every race I had today was a tough one. During the first race against Scott (Weis) I was very late. I don't know what I was doing. On the second against Del (Worsham) we had a blower come loose and he should've beat us. In the semi-finals against John I was still rolling when Rick hit the light. The last one against Dean (Skuza) wasn't a pretty one either. Today was just our day with the WWF Pontiac Firebird. It's been awhile since I've been here. This is our third final in a row and it's good to win. I think in the beginning of this year I was doing pretty well and I thought that this was pretty easy. But then we hit a low spot and its been since Gainesville since we've won. Let me tell you, I appreciate these wins a lot more now than I did in the beginning. I think I have grown a lot as a drag racer and a team owner. There are still a lot of drag races left and the war is far from over. You have to take advantage of the window of opportunity when it is open because it closes very quickly. I have a great team and a great crew chief. I wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for Dale Armstrong. I owe it all to him, he's the greatest and this team has some girth."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm real happy for the entire Jim Dunn Racing team and our sponsors, Pontiac, Mooneyes, Red Line Oil and everybody that is associated with this racecar. We had a rough start but I think we're finally going to pick it up now. If I do my job and Jim (Dunn) does his then I think we'll be tough for the rest of the year. I'm going to relax, try to lose some weight and try to get back in shape because this heat really beat me up this weekend. Overall I think we did pretty good considering we came into eliminations starting from the 11th position. We didn't have time to warm up the car in the pits and we went up to the starting line not knowing what we were working with. A fuel line came off. When the car got out there fuel sprayed all over the windshield and under the wheels and smoked the tires at the same time. We're going on to Denver and if we don't have any mechanical problems I think we have a hot rod that can win a race."

Bruce Sarver ( Pontiac Firebird) - "This Firebird is running so good right now and that made for an exciting weekend. We had high expectations going into today's race, but we faced a pretty hard oildown right in front of us and I'm afraid no one took a good look at it. My car got out there about 100 feet and got dead lost sideways. Who knows, overall this old Pontiac is going to be a good racecar. It ran super this weekend. In the first round we ran 4.93 which was the lowest e.t. of the session so that's got us pretty keyed up. We're just going to the next race with the same plan - we're not going to change anything because the car's running great. That lap in the last round was just out of our control and a result of the conditions that we were facing. I'm disappointed right now because I feel we had a car that could win the race. We'll get it next time."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We can't buy a break. I drilled him, absolutely drilled him on the tree. Our CSK Firebird was on its best pass of the weekend, and was flying, but something broke in there and caused a chain reaction of all sorts of stuff and none of it was good. At 3.2 seconds into the run it let loose, lifted the blower through the hood, shot an intake valve through the head cover and stopped running. Unbelievable. It was all new stuff, all new and all hopped up to beat him (Jerry Toliver). Juts something we can't control raised up and beat us. I don't know what broke first, but at 1.5 seconds the blower boost started to go up and by 3.2 seconds it all broke loose. No one tells you that the fastest car in the lot is going to slow to a 5.41 elapsed time so you can never take it easy. You have to go out there to beat him with a low 4.90 or even a 4.89. Unbelievable!"

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I can't buy a light. I'm about at my wits end about this. I feel focussed, I feel sharp and it feels like I'm on time but I'm late. Maybe that's worse than if I felt late. He got out on me but I immediately drove right past him. Then the car started to eat itself up down there. The tires spun at the top end and we spread some oil out on the track. I kept my foot in it because you have to get to the finish line, but even with all those things working against us, I never saw him until he came around me at the finish line. I'm about as disgusted as I can be."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , John Force , Ron Krisher , Bruce Allen , Jerry Toliver