St. Louis Pontiac Racing Review

PRO STOCK Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) Obviously it just wasn't our weekend as far as the qualifying side of it. When it came time to race, we got it together and were the quickest car of the session, but ...

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) Obviously it just wasn't our weekend as far as the qualifying side of it. When it came time to race, we got it together and were the quickest car of the session, but unfortunately we were just gunned down. He had an extremely good light and unfortunately we lost by two thousandth's of a second. I guess that's why they call it drag racing. It helps us from a team standpoint in that we were able to put all of the nuts and bolts together and get the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird to go down the racetrack even in the bad lane. That run was significantly faster than anybody else in that lane. From a confidence standpoint and going to the next race, we don't enjoy the loss, but at least the team was able to bring everything together and make the racecar competitive. I was watching Larry Morgan run and the back of his car would wash out to the right to make the car appear to be making a left-hand turn. My guys said the same thing about all of the other cars in that lane and that's exactly what happened to us. I put it in second gear and the car got real loose out there. If it would have been a straight run it easily would have gone a 6.98 or a 6.99. Once it got back in the groove it was hauling on through there.

Bruce Allen (Outlaw Pontiac Firebird) After this weekend we have a lot of positives to build on. We made five runs down the racetrack and all of them were decent. We missed it a little bit on that run, and may have been able to run a 7.03, but I'm sure everyone probably missed it somewhat. In relation to the rest of the field we ran better. I think the Outlaw Pontiac Firebird is starting to run better because our performance seems to be picking up a little bit. We were fifth last night in the final qualifying session, but we just need to stay there and get out and start racing. I was a little late in the first round but it would have taken an awful good run to beat Greg (Anderson). He had a good light and ran very well, so we'll take our lumps and go on to the next race. We're going to Denver tomorrow to get ready for the Mile-High Nationals. We're going to test Monday and Tuesday to try and get a leg up on the competition. If you don't go there early you can really get behind the eight ball. The setup is different; transmission, rear-end, engine combination, it's all different there. Being able to get a few runs in and getting the confidence that you can run there is a tremendous boost when you finally show up to race.

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) We came into today's race knowing that the Summit Racing Firebird was going to be fast, so it's disappointing when you don't see the results that you would like. I'm trying as hard as I can try and the guys are doing a great job preparing the racecar. When guys cut 4-0 lights against you there's not much you can do. This is about the fifth or sixth time that it's happened to me this year and I keep thinking that one of these times it's going to go our way. We'll stay positive and keep working at it. I guess when you're running as good as we are, guys are going to take shots at you. We'll get some breaks to fall our way one of these days. We're going to test in Denver and then we're going to Bristol for the Winston Showdown. I think that's a race that we can win. Denver's one of those racetracks that you have to test at before you race there. We went early last year because we hadn't qualified there in about three years and ended up running real fast. We went to the semi-finals and that's the last time that we have done that. Maybe we can start something good there.

George Marnell (Dynomax Pontiac Firebird) I just didn't see the light drop. I think running at night and the haze had something to do with it. We don't race that much at night and I just wasn't high enough to see the tree. From that lane it was difficult to see the light over the hood scoop. You really have to stretch your head over the roll bar to see it. I rolled in and got ready, and after we both lit the second bulb, I never saw it after that. I saw his car leave and thought that he had red lighted. I figured I would make a nice clean run and see if I could get lane choice, but obviously that's not what happened. The Dynomax Firebird is running very strong right now and I think we have an advantage in having a racecar that will get down the track. That's going to come in handy now that we're in the hottest part of the summer.

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) Since we didn't expect to do as well as we did today, we're pretty pleased with the way the day turned out. We were so far behind on the tune up when we got here on Thursday. The reason we didn't run well at the last two races, and for that matter, here until yesterday was because the fuel regulator was throwing off our tune up. I never even thought it might be that, so we kept putting more and more fuel in it, and it would go a little faster, but it was a pooch down the back half. In fourth and fifth gear it was like I was pulling on a hand brake. We finally tried another fuel regulator, but like anything else, we were just sneaking back to where we needed to be. Finally today we jumped three runs worth of tune up in the last round, and that's pretty encouraging considering how strong we did run. We really did not run too badly. I had the wrong transmission ratios on the car, but I knew what I needed, I just didn't have it available to me. It was stalling when I let the clutch out. If we would've had more trans I could've taken more clutch out. Then we would have run faster at 60 foot and to 330, and also, we would have run faster from 330 to the finish line. We have this car so hunkered down because we had so much clutch in it to get off of the starting line that we had to adjust some to get down the racetrack. This Century 21 Pontiac Firebird is a real good hot rod to handle as much clutch as we had in it.

FUNNY CAR

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) After this weekend I feel good enough driving the car that I don't even think about it. Now I'm thinking about what I have to do at the starting line and what I have to do to cut a good light. At Columbus I was more concerned with keeping it in the groove than I was the starting line. This weekend that was all reversed. I'm as comfortable driving this car as I was driving the dragster. It's nice to get that out of the way. Now I can just get in the car and concentrate on racing. It was frustrating to lose that last round because I really thought we could beat Force in the finals. But all in all it was a great weekend. The progress that we made from a team standpoint was huge. This was their first No. 1 qualifying effort of the year and I hadn't realized that until just a little while ago. We got that, went to the semi finals, and for a team just starting to gel together you can't ask for too much more. I think we did really really well. The guys have told me that the training wheels are off the car now so we'll be going after it pretty hard. We'd like to get back the Interstate batteries Pontiac back into the top ten in points and even though that's going to be tough, a couple of wins would also be nice. I expect this Firebird to be running pretty fast at the next couple of races.

Tim Wilkerson (JCIT Pontiac Firebird) To be honest, the racetrack just got us. It got really good, the air got really bad and our car didn't like it. The motor and clutch combination just weren't aggressive enough for the track. That's all right. That happens to us from time to time because we don't have enough laps. But we're going to fix it. Terry's (Manzer) not giving up by any means and neither is anybody else on this team. I felt bad because I thought I should have caught it earlier, and Terry was disappointed because he felt that I should have had a better racecar. I have a great group behind me; John Costanza, Pontiac, and a terrific team that work their tails off to make this Firebird competitive. I don't really have anything to complain about. We made four very nice runs, and the third run in qualifying would have been good except we broke the pushrod. All that got us were the conditions. When they changed we didn't adapt the way we should have, but we're going to get there. We came in here today expecting to run at 4 p.m. That would have given us awful conditions and that's what we were ready for. The track got good, the air got worse and the car just didn't have enough steam. The motor was weaker than it needed to be because of the weather and the track was probably better than it's been all weekend. The cars getting down the track didn't have any problems at all. Terry told me that we might have a problem but to do my best. In my opinion, I didn't catch it in time.

Gary Densham (NEC/AAA Southern California Pontiac Firebird) The weekend was a big success after the struggle we've had at the last couple of races. We felt confident that this Firebird would get down the racetrack and we were successful in making some good runs. Obviously I'm disappointed in myself for the red light, but we're not used to racing at night with this high humidity. When I shut my visor it fogged up completely and I couldn't see the light. I saw a flash and I left. I've been racing these cars for 30 years and I've never had a red light. The funny thing is that I almost guessed perfect. Two thousandth's of a second on the other side and I would have been a hero. All in all I think this program is back on the right track. The team's working well, the cars running well, and by the time we get to Denver we'll be ready.

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) We really can't complain about our performance this weekend. The MBNA/Pontiac seems to have really turned around. We all know it takes time with a new crew chief and new people, but the car ran good all weekend and it ran good today. We put ourselves in a position where we wanted to run 4.57 or 4.58 and we had to go for it. It's just one of those deals. I was surprised that it smoked the tires that early in the run. I happy with this race car but it sure would be nice to put it back in the winner's circle for all of our sponsors. Maybe we can do it in Bristol. For $200,000 I would like nothing more than to beat John Force's Mustang in the final.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , John Force , Larry Morgan , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , George Marnell , Tommy Johnson Jr.