Topeka: Pontiac Racing Saturday notes and quotes

TOPEKA, Kan. -- (September 30, 2000)- Qualifying for the 12th annual NHRA Advance Auto Parts Nationals was completed today at Heartland Park Topeka. In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin held onto the No. 1 qualifying position in an Oldsmobile with an ...

TOPEKA, Kan. -- (September 30, 2000)- Qualifying for the 12th annual NHRA Advance Auto Parts Nationals was completed today at Heartland Park Topeka. In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin held onto the No. 1 qualifying position in an Oldsmobile with an elapsed time of 6.922 seconds at 197.39 mph. Ron Krisher is qualified second in the Eagle One Pontiac Firebird, Kurt Johnson is third in a Camaro, Warren Johnson is fourth in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird and Jim Yates is fifth in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird. Mark Pawuk's Summit Racing Firebird is qualified seventh, Bruce Allen is eighth, Richie Stevens is 10th and Brad Jeter is 13th. Tom Martino failed to qualify for the event finishing 17th.

In Funny Car, John Force ran an elapsed time of 4.853 seconds at 299.46 mph in the last qualifying session to hold onto the top spot. Frank Pedregon is second in the CSK Pontiac Firebird, Ron Capps is third in a Camaro, Tony Pedregon is fourth in a Mustang and Tim Wilkerson is fifth in the Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird. Bruce Sarver is qualified seventh, Del Worsham is 10th, Jerry Toliver is 12th, Gary Densham is 13th and Al Hofmann is 15th. Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified 19th and Dale Creasy Jr. was 20th.

In Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi held on to the top spot with an elapsed time of 4.604 seconds at 309.98 mph. Tony Schumacher is qualified second, Doug Kalitta is third, Kenny Bernstein is fourth and MBNA/Pontiac driver Cory McClenathan is fifth.

The 12th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals is the 19th race on the 23-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Television coverage of final elimination's can be seen on Sunday October 1st on TNN starting at 4:30pm Eastern.

PRO STOCK

Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) - "The weekend hasn't been too bad. We're making some changes on it based on what we found last week and it looks like we're heading in the direction that will help us for next year. We realize where we are car wise right now and we're pretty optimistic with what's happened so far this weekend. There is a little discrepancy between the two lanes. The 60-foot is much better in the left lane. I am sure that will be a factor tomorrow." No. 4 qualifier - 6.951ET/197.16MPH

Ron Krisher (Eagle One Pontiac Firebird) - "We had a good run for that right lane as bad as it is. The Eagle One Pontiac Firebird is running really well, especially in fourth gear. I think we will run really well tomorrow. Hopefully we will do really well tomorrow if I can drive good. We just got to stay out of that right lane. We did the best in the lane that run. I know we can run fast in that left lane if we can get a good 60-foot time. The team has been working very hard and I think if we can just get off the starting line, we will put up some nice numbers." No. 2 qualifier - 6.926ET/197.94MPH

Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird) - "This is the best weekend we've had this year. The performance is exciting but the consistency is even more exciting. The fact that we're running better every session is great. Even though we're qualified fifth I think we have more -- we left some on the table this morning. I think the conditions we had today will be what we have tomorrow, which is good for us. The track will be a little bit slicker. Terry (Adams) wanted to put four good qualifying sessions together and that is just what we did. We tuned the chassis and the clutch up just a little bit before each run and the Splitfire Pontiac Firebird has done exactly what we wanted to do. It's encouraging to see the car do what we want it to do. It was a little slicker this last session and truthfully the car does better when it is a little slick. The slicker it is the faster the car seems to run. We're very encouraged going into tomorrow. We hope to go some rounds and keep plugging away on the car." No. 5 qualifier - 6.953ET/196.96MPH

Bruce Allen (Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird) - "Last night we were able to get a hold of the track on the starting line, made a good move in low gear and that helped us a lot. We've finally kind of found part of our problem. We're getting the engine to run better. The car just wasn't running as good as it should in the back half, we've been slowly changing things and I think we've finally stumbled upon it. The back half is getting better as we go along this weekend with the car. There's a big discrepancy here in the lanes. The right lane is no where as good as the left. Lane choice is what we're hoping for tomorrow. But you know it may not be as big of a factor tomorrow after the Fuel cars have run on it a few times. But you still want that option to choose the lane you want." No. 8 qualifier - 6.967ET/196.73MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird) - "We've been real pleased with our performance. We haven't made the greatest runs but we're still running pretty fast. We're excited about getting this Summit Racing Pontiac Firebird moved up into the field a little bit farther tonight. We are hoping for lane choice tomorrow. It looks right now that it's a one-lane racecourse. I think all but one car has qualified out of the left lane. We are working to get our car ready for tomorrow. We're testing a few things and hopefully we will do well on race day." No. 7 qualifier - 6.962ET/196.56MPH

Richie Stevens Jr. (Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird) - "The Valspar Refinish Firebird isn't feeling too bad. There's a bump out there in the right lane that's been giving us problems. We should've run faster that last run but we hit that bump pretty hard. We're switching motors for the next session to see what happens. We think this other motor is giving out on us. We're going to have to stay away from that lane. Lane choice is going to be very important tomorrow. We will have a lot better chance if we have lane choice. We are 10th right now and need to step it up and get in the top-half of the field. So that's the plan right now. Hopefully we can and then be ready to go tomorrow." No. 10 qualifier - 6.973ET/195.53MPH

Tom Martino (Century 21 Pontiac Firebird) -- "This class has gotten so competitive that you need to make a good run every time out. Right now, our performance level has slipped a bit, giving us no room for error. As a result, if we don't nail the set-up during the good session, we're going to run into the problems we had here. Today was a perfect example. Our last run was our best of the weekend, both car-wise and time-wise. Unfortunately, it came at the wrong time. If we had that run in this morning session, we'd be racing tomorrow. But we didn't. It's very hard to race that way, and we know we have to get better. We're going to head over to St. Louis to test for the next few days before Memphis. We are going to make as many runs as we need to, so we can head to the next race confident that our Century 21 Firebird will react in a predictable manner, so we can be both consistent and competitive."

FUNNY CAR

Del Worsham (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "We're getting better with this car. We made some wholesale changes and worked awfully hard for the 2-hundredths, but there's more to be had. We also have our new 2000 Firebird red body almost ready to go, but I'm not sure if we'll run it in the last session or not. It has different characteristics than this black one, they've made some slight aerodynamic changes to it, and it can effect your tune-up if you're not totally dialed in. We'd like to switch to the new red car for this last lap, but we'll just have to see if it's ready and through the tech inspection by then."

After second qualifying session: "I'm not unhappy with this. We can go quicker, and we probably will tomorrow, but we worked on some things and improved basically all weekend. It was good to go out there on that run and put a '4' up. What we didn't want to do was make a mistake there and go into Sunday with question marks. We didn't, we put up a lap that can win on Sunday and that's what we wanted to do." No. 10 qualifier - 4.984ET/303.43MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "5.00 at 251mph is pretty huge. We've run one other early shut-off with numbers like that, and the next run we made was a 4.87. I don't know if we'll run that here, you need totally perfect conditions for that. The wind is helping us here in one respect; it adds about 25 mph worth of downforce on the car. But it also holds us back; it's a good and bad thing. This time we dropped a cylinder down there, it got out of the groove, over-revved a little and that will knock the belt off. I think we'll take a little wing out of it for the next lap, try to free it up a little. We'll let this headwind supply the downforce."

After second qualifying session: "We've got a car that can win this thing tomorrow. Actually, in our pit we've got two cars that can win. The blue car went down the track well each run it made, and it was quick on all four passes. Now we've got four more quick ones to make on Sunday." No. 2 qualifier - 4.903ET/301.20MPH

Jerry Toliver (WWF Pontiac Firebird) -- "It's been disappointing the way 'The Rock' has been performing this weekend so far. We were hoping for more, but gladly tomorrow is a new day. We'll take on Wilkerson first round and move on one round at a time. We're not that far off and I think we'll have something for him."

Bruce Sarver (e-moola.com Pontiac Firebird) - "We didn't do as well as we would've liked. We really wanted to move up in the field. I am a little disappointed but I know we will be ready to go tomorrow. We have lane choice so that is a good thing. We'll be ready." No. 7 qualifier - 4.973ET/289.38MPH

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird) -"Well it's just to bad that we didn't get the job done. We just couldn't get the tune-up down at all the entire weekend. It's a shame because we had some fans from Iowa come down and watch and we really wanted to give the fans a good show. But they will get a good show tomorrow - we just won't be there. We will just look forward to Memphis now and keep truckin' along. We'll be fine." No. 19 qualifier - 5.229ET/277.66MPH Tim Wilkerson (Levi Ray & Shoup Inc. Pontiac Firebird) - "Well we didn't have a great day. We were just overly aggressive. We smoked the tires and that was it. We will keep working on the tune-up and be ready to go tomorrow on race day. We're very happy to be in the show with the Levi, Ray and Shoup Pontiac Firebird." No. 5 qualifier - 4.958ET/292.96MPH

TOP FUEL

Cory McClenathan (MBNA/Pontiac Dragster) - "We had a great day yesterday.  
I was really happy with the MBNA/Pontiac dragster.  The whole team really
worked hard.  Today we had a rough day with smoking the tires but we will
be ok tomorrow.  I am very confident and happy that we qualified in the
fifth spot.  Now if we can just go some rounds tomorrow that would be
great!"  No.  5 qualifier - 4.639ET/309.98mph

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Richie Stevens Jr. , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.