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MARTINO HOPES PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT IN DALLAS CENTURY 21( Racing Team uses multiple test sessions to prepare for the 14th Annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, October 15, 1999 - For most of the competitors in the NHRA's...

MARTINO HOPES PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT IN DALLAS CENTURY 21( Racing Team uses multiple test sessions to prepare for the 14th Annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals

Parsippany, New Jersey, October 15, 1999 - For most of the competitors in the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series, this weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals will mark a return to competition after a brief ten-day hiatus. However, the Texas contest will mark the end of yet another hectic period for Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird Racing Team. In fact, both car and crew have barely stood still as they continued their persistent search for speed.

"With so few chances left in the season, we wanted to make the most of each one," explained Martino. "Over the next month, we will be racing on three very different tracks, and we're still trying to get a firm handle on this new car. Any information we can gather from making test runs could prove very useful in getting our CENTURY 21( Firebird back into the winner's circle."

If making trial runs produces data, the effort put forth by the Martino crew since the last race should create enough to fill an encyclopedia. After participating in a General Motors-sponsored reaction-time seminar, Martino took time to make several test passes at Memphis Motorsports Park the Monday following the event, and posted the highest top speed amongst the "doorslammers" in attendance.

At the end of the day, the team packed up and headed north to their New Jersey headquarters to spend a few days restocking their transporter for the last road trip of the year. Every contingency had to be thought of and planned for, as the rig will not return until after the season's end. In addition, Martino and crew chief Tom Kling spent long hours in the dyno room, checking and rebuilding their arsenal of race motors, including "Vinny", the primary "bullet" named after Tom Martino's youngest son. Once this work was complete, crew member Rick Triana left with the truck for Houston and yet another test session prior to the Dallas race.

Any information gathered over this period could come into play almost immediately, as this weekend will place a premium on high performance. With its concrete racing surface providing outstanding traction throughout its length, the Texas Motorplex could see records fall at every level. Beyond that, competitors know that to make the cut for Sunday's final eliminations an outstanding run will be required. For example, the Pro Stock contingent will try to make as much horsepower as possible, realizing they should be able to put it to good use. Should the weather cooperate, personal bests could be the order of the day. For his part, Tom Martino would like to secure his place among those in his division to have recorded a 200-mph pass. He has come close in recent weeks, with several runs in the upper 199-mph range, and sees this weekend as his best opportunity since last spring. Despite the lure of that accomplishment, however, Martino's primary concern will remain putting his CENTURY 21( Firebird in a position to claim its first win of the season.

"Running 200 would be nice, but that's not what we're concentrating on," stated Martino. "Our goal is to win rounds on Sunday. We'll start by trying to qualify our CENTURY 21 ( Firebird in the top half of the field, and work on developing a solid race day set-up. It's no secret that this team really wants a win, so we're hoping that the testing we've done over the last few days will pay some big dividends in the Big D."

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MARTINO MOMENTS: As part of the week-long CENTURY 21( "Drive It Home" Sweepstakes Tour, Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at the Grapevine Mills Mall, 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, Texas on Thursday, October 21 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Martino will be on hand to sign autographs and to watch as one lucky entrant will be awarded the two-year lease of a new Pontiac Firebird. For directions, please call (972) 724-4900....This will be Tom's seventh Pro Stock appearance at the Texas Motorplex, where he looks to improve on his two quarter-final finishes.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 14th Annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals, the twentieth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: October 21 - 24, 1999

WHERE: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, Texas

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, October 21 with two sessions at 1:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and conclude with two rounds on Saturday, October 23 at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 24

TV: ESPN2 will air one hour of qualifying highlights from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., and three hours of semi-final and final round coverage from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday, October 24. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino