Martin: Round seven preview

Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals Marks Second-Half of eMax Drag Racing Series Thirty Nitro Cars Expected to Pack U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan August 4-6 NORWALK, Ohio (July 26, 2006) -- As the 2006 eMax Drag Racing ...

Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals Marks Second-Half of eMax Drag Racing Series

Thirty Nitro Cars Expected to Pack U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan August 4-6

NORWALK, Ohio (July 26, 2006) -- As the 2006 eMax Drag Racing Series enters into the second half of the season with the Knoll Gas -- Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals August 4-6, Michigan fans attending the event at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, will see one of the biggest Nitro fields of the season. Nearly 30 cars are pre-registered between the Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car classes, including J.R. Todd, Clay Millican, Dale Creasy Jr., Gary Densham and Bob Gilbertson.

If recent history is any indication, the drivers who end up in the Knoll Gas-Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals winner's circle at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park should probably start thinking about making reservations for the IHRA champion's banquet in December.

Over the last two years, seven of the eight professional winners in Martin ended up making speeches at the end of the season. In 2005, Clay Millican (Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel), Mike Castellana (Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Mod), Rob Atchison (Alcohol Funny Car) and Steve Spiess (Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Stock) all won the Northern Nationals. All four ended up with world championships at the end of the year.

In 2004, Millican (Top Fuel), Mike Janis (Pro Mod), Atchison (Alcohol Funny Car) and Frank Gugliotta (Pro Stock) all won in Martin. Of those four, only Gugliotta did not end up winning a championship at year's end.

This season it appears like all IHRA professional championship races will go down to the wire. The Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car point standings are especially tight heading into the Torco Northern Nationals, with two-time winner Dale Creasy, Jr. leading the way. Creasy has a 50-point lead over Jack Wyatt, with three additional drivers (Vinny Arcadi, Gary Densham and Bob Gilbertson) also hanging around within 82 points.

Clay Millican, the five-time defending IHRA Top Fuel World Champion, has turned the quarter-mile strip at US 131 into his own personal playground since the track entered the national event rotation in 2002. In those four years he has defeated four different drivers in the Top Fuel final (Doug Foley, Bobby Lagana, Tim Cullinan and Bruce Litton) and has set both ends of the track record at US 131 Motorsports Park, at 4.609/318.09. He also usually ends up on top of the qualifying sheet when all is said and done after Friday and Saturday.

Millican has just one Top Fuel win this season, in Edmonton, and it is becoming apparent the competition in the IHRA Top Fuel field is gaining ground on the Drummonds, Tenn.-resident. Rick Cooper and Doug Foley are in their second full season as teammates on the Foley/Lewis Racing Team and will be looking for a strong showing at the event in Martin since the race is title sponsored by Torco Racing Fuels, the main sponsor on the Foley/Lewis cars as well. Bobby Lagana, Jr. captured his first career win in Grand Bend before advancing to the final at the Suzuki Motor City Nationals in Milan. Add J.R. Todd to the mix, winner of an NHRA event in Denver a few weeks ago, and the field at U.S. 131 should be extremely tough.

Glen Kerunsky built a big points lead in the Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Modified class by advancing to the final in the first three races of the 2006 season. In the two races since, Edmonton and Milan, his lead began to drift away. Kerunsky enters the Martin with 401 points. Quain Stott, who won in Milan, is right behind him with 327. Danny Rowe, 296 points, also is very much in the championship mix. Local fans will likely keep an eye on Holland, Michigan's Steve Bareman, who finished runner-up at two IHRA national events in 2005.

The Pro Modified class will have even more to race for in Martin as the Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Modified Shootout will be run off as well.

Mark Thomas has two event wins on the '06 schedule. However, his lead over three-time defending Alcohol Funny Car champion Rob Atchison is a mere 28 points. Tom Carter, who has won two events, also is a factor in the points chase. His 342 points has him 83 points behind Thomas.

The Torco Pro Stock class appears to be a four-man race. Tony Gillig holds the lead with 418 points while Frank Gugliotta (410 points), Pete Berner (361 points) and Robert Patrick (353 points) remain in contention. A strong showing in Martin will be essential to remain in the hunt.

The Knoll Gas -- Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals will be held at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, August 4-6. For more information, log onto www.ihra.com, www.us131motorsportspark.com, or contact the track at (269) 672-7800.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Janis , Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , Tony Gillig , Robert Patrick , Bob Gilbertson , Quain Stott , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Jack Wyatt , Doug Foley , Danny Rowe , Glen Kerunsky , J.R. Todd , Steve Spiess , Tim Cullinan , Frank Gugliotta