Columbus Century 21 Racing Team Preview

MARTINO AIMS TO RECLAIM COLUMBUS SUCCESS CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks to duplicate their winning performance from 1997 at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, June 9, 1999 - When the average race fan looks at an NHRA Pro...

MARTINO AIMS TO RECLAIM COLUMBUS SUCCESS

CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks to duplicate their winning performance from 1997 at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals

Parsippany, New Jersey, June 9, 1999 - When the average race fan looks at an NHRA Pro Stock race car, he or she sees a vehicle quite similar to what they drive on the street. After all, the size and appearance are relatively the same, and the driver uses a door to get in. Of course, the average daily driver does not have a massive hood scoop, rear wing or single seat surrounded by a roll cage, but the relationship between the thoroughbred racing machine and its more mundane namesake is readily apparent. Another parallel alliance exists in the area of mechanics. Although the parts used to assemble the two are quite different, the difficulties in exacting repairs can be equally frustrating. But where the man on the street can hire a mechanic, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Racing team must rely on their own ability. In each instance, the solutions can be quite elusive.

Every week, the Martino team labors long and hard to compete in motorsports' most competitive division. At times, their Pro Stock Firebird has flown, as evidenced by a career-best 6.888-second elapsed time in Richmond or final-round appearance in Englishtown. On other occasions, however, their racecar's secrets of speed remain hidden, as adjustments to improve its performance have fallen short. Through it all, however, Tom Martino's resolve has never faltered, and as he brings his team to Columbus for this weekend's Pontiac Excitement Nationals, the entire team's determination to succeed is stronger than ever.

"One of our biggest difficulties this season has been getting our CENTURY 21 Firebird to respond to our adjustments," explained Martino. "It's thrown us more curves than the New York Yankees. When we change things according to what the computer and the car's on-track performance seems to indicate, the results aren't always what we expect. And just when we think we've got a handle on it, something else changes. We've done a lot of testing in the few days since Chicago trying to find the key to consistent performance, which is what you need to succeed in Pro Stock. I guess this weekend will show us how we made out."

One factor on Martino's side is the location for this weekend's event, National Trail Raceway. This traditional stop on the NHRA tour is one of the most challenging, with a racing surface that frustrates many in pursuit of traction. But this facility located just outside of Kirkersville has proven well suited to the Farmingdale, New Jersey native's driving talents. In the three previous Ohio appearances of his young Pro Stock career, Martino has recorded a semi-final finish and one of his three national event wins. Returning to such a "friendly" location could be just what the doctor ordered for this hungry team.

"Columbus has been a good track for me, and I'm glad we're racing there this weekend," stated Martino. "It always helps to go back to a track you've won on. We know the car has the potential, and we're confident in our abilities. We just have to put the two together. Most importantly, we'll focus on one task at a time. If all goes well, we'll qualify, win rounds, and see what we can do about getting our CENTURY 21 Firebird in the winner's circle."

MARTINO MOMENTS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at the Dave Gill Pontiac at 4700 Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, June 10 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. For directions, please call (614) 861-6230.... This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at National Trail Raceway, where he looks to duplicate his winning performance from 1997.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, the tenth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: June 10 - 13, 1999

WHERE: National Trail Raceway, Kirkersville, Ohio

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, June 11 with two sessions at 2:45 and 6:45 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, June 12 with two rounds at 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 13.

TV: ABC will air one hour of tape-delayed final-round coverage from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino