Topeka: Pontiac Racing final eliminations notes and quotes

TOPEKA, Kan. (October 1, 2000)- Final eliminations were completed today for the 12th annual Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. The next event on the NHRA Winston championship schedule is the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by...

TOPEKA, Kan. (October 1, 2000)- Final eliminations were completed today for the 12th annual Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. The next event on the NHRA Winston championship schedule is the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil on October 5 - 8 at Memphis Motorsports Park.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "Losing lane choice in the second round basically cost us the race. We were obviously running faster than the Coughlins were all weekend, and whatever we hit out there I have no idea. All of a sudden in third gear it just lit the tires up and away I went. We're just happy to win that round based on what happened out there. Then it cost us. Alderman went seven-flat in the left lane, and 7.08 in the right lane, and we went 7.02 in the right lane, so obviously we had a good race horse this weekend. The luck didn't shine on us, that's all.

"We made a pretty darn good run in the right-hand lane given the fact that no one else was even getting down the lane. We were fortunate to just get by in the second round and we ran relatively decent in the semis. So overall we're creeping up on Krisher. We're keeping our nose to the grindstone."

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "That shouldn't have happened. We were having such a great day. Every round was going pretty good and then to have a wire come loose that is connected to the fuel pump, which made the fuel pump stop working, really makes you mad. It's not something you check every time. But you can bet we will be now. It's very disappointing. We could've won that round and maybe even the race. What a disappointment."

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "I don't know what happened. The left wheel just kept driving the Eagle One Firebird to the right. We were pretty much out of the groove the whole time. I kept trying all the way down the track to get it back in the groove but it kept going over to the right. It started before the 60-foot line too. Then it just continued all the way down the track. So we're going to try and figure it out and be ready for Memphis. It's a bummer to lose like that when you know you have a fast car. That's all apart of it I guess. It's just discouraging." Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "I'm very excited about how we did this weekend. Not just with the ET's but with the consistency. The Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird made five good runs this weekend -- right up to the second round. That's when we lost lane choice. I think we did the best we could in that right lane. We lost lane choice by two-thousandths of a second. Warren (Johnson) was the fastest that round and we were the second fastest. We're running good, there is just a lot of tough cars at the top of the field. We need to get that three of four thousandths more in qualifying and get in the top two or three cars. If we would've run anyone else we would've had lane choice in that round. What's that say. But we're really happy with the car and are looking forward to Memphis."

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "That was a good run. The Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird ran real well. I just didn't have a good enough light to beat him. He made a good run and had a good light. That's a bad combination to go against in the first round. We're disappointed that we didn't win but we can't dwell on it. This is too tough. Sometimes a .460 light is good enough, today it wasn't. A .440 wouldn't have either. When your eighth, they're ninth and there isn't a big difference in the lanes and you run them first round, you've got to be on your game. You've got to outrun them. We did that, we just didn't have a good enough light. At least we made a nice run. I would rather get the car running good, make good runs and take my chances over the long hall. I think we can beat a lot of these people. It won't be the last one, I hope it is but it's just part of it."

Brad Jeter (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) - "We just didn't get it done. Not having lane choice was bad for us and when you're racing Warren (Johnson) you know it's going to be tough. We really wanted to run better but that lane was just tough on us. And really not just us but everyone in that lane. Lane choice as a huge factor this weekend. But we'll go to Memphis and try again there."

Richie Stevens Jr. (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "I was telling a friend of mine the other day that this is my least favorite race of the year and nothing happened this weekend to make me change my mind. The bump killed us, plain and simple. I was well ahead of him and totally had him covered. I didn't even see a glimpse of his car until I hit that spot. Then he just blew by me.'

"All we can do at this point is worry about next weekend. I'm glad we'll be racing again in a few days so that we can put this all behind us and move on. I'll be happy when we pull out of the track tonight."

FUNNY CAR

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "It was on a better pass than that, it was running about as well as Frankie's car. But down there near the finish line it stripped some blower studs and quit. Running 4.97 at only 267mph is stout.. But, when you're car quits on you down there you hold your breath. Still, there wasn't much luck at work there, we got there in 4.97 and that's a good lap. Now we run our teammate in Round 2. It's the first time we've raced in Round 2 this year, the other tree times were in Round 1. The better car will win and will go to the Semi's."

After second round: I'm glad we got by Frankie. That evens up the score on the year. He'd beaten me twice and I'd only gotten him once. It was a good race but we had a header pipe drop on us down there and scrape along the ground, that's what wall the sparks were. That slowed the Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird down quite a bit but we weren't as fast as we were in the first round. We will definitely have to step on it in the semis against Capps."

After semi-final round: Well, it absolutely stinks to lose and it's frustrating to lose to Ron again. I promise you we will take him out one of these days. The weird thing on that lap was that my rear wing collapsed early in the run. It's all torn up and ruined now, but it's a wonder we've got a car at all, or that we could run a 4.99 with the wing collapsed and all shredding and flapping back there. I guess a bolt sheared and let one support strut get loose, and that's all it takes. The struts and wires on the whole wing kind of hold of hold each other up, so when one lets go the others fall in like a house of cards. Like a 300mph house of cards. On the more positive side, I'm proud of this team and how we've done. That's our fifth semi-final of the year, and fourth in the last eight races. We're running pretty well, we have a lot to be proud of."

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "I was ready and I knew Dave Fletcher was going to give me a fast car. He did and now we race Del, which is not how we like to see this stuff work out. It is better than having to race each other in Round 1., and one of us is going at least to the Semi's, but as fast as our two Firebird are running I think we both are quick enough to keep going."

After second round: "It put a cylinder out at the hit of the throttle and never picked it up the whole way. So basically, we ran Del 7 against 8 in terms of cylinders. Bu we knew only one Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac could advance, that's just the luck of the ladder. We race totally heads up when we go against each other, it's always a race. Our blue team will pitch in now and see if we can't help Del win this thing."

Jerry Toliver (WWF "The Rock" Pontiac Firebird) - "We got our 'Rock' Pontiac back performing to our standards with a new chassis underneath it. It seems to have cured the problems we've had of late. We did a lot of work in the bell housing and we now have our hot rod back. It ran .89 the first lap, which really impressed us. It came back the next round and ran well again, but then unfortunately it went away in the semis. It dropped a hole on that run, so two out of three, I guess, isn't bad, but we should have been four out of four today."

Gary Densham (NEC Pontiac Firebird) - "That was a great race. Our NEC Pontiac Firebird ran great. It's really hard to lose one like that. We're real pleased that the car is coming around again. We're excited to go racing again. It's a good feeling for me and the whole team. It's all apart of drag racing. But those heartbreakers can really get you down. But Tony (Pedregon) ran really good and we almost met our career best ET. So all in all it was a good weekend."

Al Hofmann (Mooneyes/Red Line Oil Pontiac Firebird) - "Well, considering the problems we had over the weekend we're just happy we qualified. The Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird made a good run. We just got beat. Frank (Pedregon) has a great car this weekend and we knew he would be hard to beat. We didn't hurt anything and the motor looks good. The team did a great job as usual, we just need to get this Pontiac to go a little faster. Frankie's been running good all weekend but I think we gave him a good run for his money."

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - We don't know what happened yet. Last night something went wrong with the fuel system and turned both pumps off. We changed all of the ignition, and the injector and it didn't work. So we're trying to figure it out right now. We're going to stay here and test tomorrow and hopefully get it figured out."

Tim Wilkerson (Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird) - "We wanted to run a little better then that but we weren't going to run a 4.89. That's part of it. We went up there and tried to give it the best we had. We didn't want to give it away. We really anticipated (Jerry) Toliver making a mistake. We talked about it all night last night, if we should try and rotate the earth or wait and see if he messed up. We decided to see if he mess up and he didn't. But that's okay. You do what you need to do and hope for the best. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way. We'll go on to Memphis. We feel we have a good tune-up for that track so we'll go from there."

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac Dragster) - "Overall, not too bad of a weekend. We were pretty consistent all weekend. We even had a pretty good first round. We would've liked to run better but that's the way it goes. It seems like we are getting this MBNA Pontiac back the way it should be running. I am pretty happy with the way things are heading.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Richie Stevens Jr. , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver