Topeka Pontiac Racing Notes

11th ANNUAL ADVANCE AUTO PARTS NATIONALS HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA TOPEKA, KANSAS TOPEKA, Kan. (Monday, October 4, 1999) - Final eliminations for the 11th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals were completed today after yesterday's postponement due...


TOPEKA, Kan. (Monday, October 4, 1999) - Final eliminations for the 11th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals were completed today after yesterday's postponement due to cold weather and rain.


Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) "Yesterday I had a problem keeping the car straight on the burnout. We made an adjustment that we thought would cure the problem, but the car turned on me again when I came out of the water box. I wasn't able to put down a layer of rubber across the starting line, and that sealed our fate. Then the clutch locked up solid at 7900 rpm, and that was the end of that."

Steve Schmidt (Dynagear Pontiac Firebird) "The track was awesome if you were prepared for it. We were prepared for it, but we broke a transmission when I tried to shift it into second gear. We were still 1.01 at 60-foot, and if the transmission hadn't broken we probably would have been one-flat again. I really think the Dynagear Pontiac Firebird was capable of running 6.88 or 6.87, and we could have run with Troy (Coughlin), but there's not a whole lot we can do about it now. All in all it was a good weekend. We've made significant improvements with our racecar, David's (Spizter) Sonoma ran well, so we'll go to Memphis and see if we can't continue what we started here. I think engine-wise we're in pretty good shape, so we'll go there and try to win a race."


Tommy Johnson Jr. (Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird) "I made a rookie error in that semi-final race. Now we need to make it pay off here in the finals. I guess this is the race (against John Force) everyone's been waiting for. At least these guys on the team have. This weekend things have gone pretty smooth and it doesn't even feel like we left Reading. We're just going out and running this Interstate Batteries Firebird down the track. That time we smoked the tires, and it was my fault because I let it get out of the groove too far. It made a hard move to the left and I didn't get on it quick enough. It got out there in the marbles and started spinning the tires. We got the round win though, but I guarantee you that it has my attention level a little higher for the finals. Maybe I needed that. The crew's going to tune her up. They definitely have a performance advantage on us right now so we'll tune it up, hope she sticks and I'll drive my heart out. I think if we run 4.86 we can beat him. If I do my job and the guys step it up then we'll be all right."

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) "Man, that was a really big round win for us. We're battling hard for a spot in the middle of the Top 10. Dean Skuza is ahead of us in 5th, and with him not qualifying we had a chance to pick up some points. Cory (Lee) is the driver right behind us in 7th, so when you have one of these races it's like a double round, because you pick up and he loses all in one pass. This was like a triple round, because we picked up another round on Dean and put Cory one more behind us. I'm not really sure what to think of that right lane. That's twice we smoked the tires about ten feet off the line, in the same place. You walk that lane and it looks pretty good, and every now and then a car will run great over there, but most of us are really struggling with getting off the line. There are some bald spots out there we just couldn't seem to avoid, and our set-up just wouldn't handle them. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird was running pretty well in the left lane, but with Force over there in the second round we had to hit it pretty hard. I wasn't going out there to run 5.10, we wanted to run what's a good number for us, like a 4.96 to a 5.00, in there. It didn't work out though."

Jim Dunn - Crew Chief/Car Owner (Red Line Racing Oil Pontiac Firebird) "One of the slides on the valve system didn't work, it went lean, banged the burst plate out of it and quit running. That's why you saw the fuel coming out of it. He (Frank Pedregon) put his foot back in it, but it's hard to go anywhere without any air. It's just one of those cold-weather deals and it just froze up the slide valve. We've never had it happen before. We heat the pumps and all before we start it but it didn't even dawn on us that the slide valve would be stuck. That's racing and we'll win a couple that we're not supposed to. The last two races we've been ahead of the guy and the car has just given up. We broke a crank at Reading on only its fourth run but that's what happens when you race. If you don't want to break parts don't start it.


Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac) "After Indy and having a good tune up, then going to the next two races and losing in first round, the championship's pretty much out of our reach as far as I'm concerned. There's still the hope that we can be a spoiler and beat some of these good teams, but we just need to reach down deep, either start testing stuff for next year or get this car down the racetrack. Memphis can be good to marginal at times, but we actually have a pretty good setup for that track and I think we'll be okay there. Right now we need to focus on getting back in the Budweiser Classic and that's going to be tough to do. We need to go out and qualify either one or two at the next couple of races and then maybe beat Eddie Hill or Doug Herbert to get that No. 8 spot. Our focus is just on that right now, and to be a spoiler and finish in the top three or four of the points standings."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Frank Pedregon , Warren Johnson , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Cory McClenathan , Steve Schmidt , Tommy Johnson Jr.